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Kyiv Post | 28Dec2013 | Andreas Umland

How spread of Banderite slogans and symbols undermines Ukrainian nation-building

[W.Z. This article by Andreas Umland illustrates how even well-meaning(?) academics promoting their own distorted points of view can cause more harm than good. Mr. Umland takes issue with "nationalist" slogans such as "Glory to Ukraine! -- To the heroes glory!" and demonizes Oleh Tyahnybok of the Svoboda Party for utilizing it at the Maidan demonstrations. Other ogres in Mr. Umland's vocabulary are Bandera, OUN, Shukhevych, UPA, anti-Semitic speech, Nazi collaborators, fascist, etc. Critical comments from readers are appended below the article. Several personal comments in square brackets and in the colour fuchsia are inserted in the text.]

Writing about the implications of Ukraine’s divided historical memory is a thankless task. Ukraine’s nationalist intelligentsia’s response to voicing the most elementary facts on, and assessments of, the corroding role of the promotion of World War II themes for Ukrainian state-building is always the same: Kill the messenger!

It is less important what is said and for which purpose. The person who dares to point out even widely known trivialities and makes all too evident conclusions related to the ambivalent meaning of a heroization of wartime nationalists, will be lectured or defamed, or both.

The analyst and not the matter of the issue will be questioned -- if necessary through wild allegations, far-going accusations, and outright libel. The reason and justification for such far-reaching denunciations will be the attacker’s strong patriotism and love of Ukraine.

But is mainstreaming symbols, slogans and ideas related to the so-called Stepan Bandera movement really patriotic when soberly considering the socio-political realities of post-Soviet Ukraine?

The ethno-centrist slant of Ukraine’s third post-Soviet mass rebellion

The current uprising is the third such popular insurgence following the Granite Revolution of 1990 and Orange Revolution of 2004.

While these earlier revolts had also nationalist undertones, the current insurrection is different regarding the prominent role that supposedly “national” themes play in it. Above all, it is characterized by the far more notable presence, than in 1990 and 2004, of slogans, symbols and followers implicitly or explicitly heroizing Bandera’s wartime Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.

This discourse is promoted, first and foremost, by the nationalist party Svoboda led by Oleh Tiahnybok, but has been willingly taken up by other political and civil actors too. In spite of the minor role of right-wing extremists in the protests, some leitmotifs historically associated with, but today not any longer perceived as representing, Ukrainian war-time ultra-nationalism are now characteristic of the entire protest movement. This may be a remarkable success for Ukraine’s post-Soviet neo-Banderite ethno-nationalists; yet it is bad news for the future of Ukrainian political nation-building.

Already a prominent participant of the 1990 Granite Revolution, in 2004, Tiahnybok was excluded from the Verkhovna Rada faction Our Ukraine for an anti-Semitic speech earlier that year. He thus played an only third-rate role during the Orange Revolution.

Today, in contrast, Tiahnybok is one of the most influential leaders of the protest movement eminently co-directing its rhetoric, ideology and actions. To be sure, he and has party usually have the support of only around 4-6 percent in recent popularity polls.

Moreover, in a number of experimental public opinion studies conducted by different sociological agencies, Tiahnybok has been repeatedly identified as the only major opposition leader who could lose, in a hypothetical two-round presidential election, against the discredited incumbent Viktor Yanukovych. Nevertheless, being effective orators and supported by a vocal support group in the crowds, Tiahnybok and some other ethno-nationalist spokespersons are, during the current protests, disproportionally present, on the streets, at the podiums, and in mass media. While they represent the electorally smallest faction and regionally most contained part of the opposition, the Svoboda leaders are as visible as those of the two larger opposition parties, Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR and Arseniy Yatseniuk’s Batkivshchyna.

This may by itself not seen as a problem. Representing a parliamentary faction, Tiahnybok’s party certainly has the right to be involved in the protests, and promote itself among the opposition voters. Moreover, “Svoboda” has, to no small degree and with considerable discipline, contributed to the effective organization, combat spirit and physical protection of the protesters. Also, Tiahnybok and Svoboda’s other spokespersons have markedly toned down the implicitly anti-Western aspects of their ideology, and took already 2012 an explicitly supportive stance on Ukraine’s rapprochement with, and integration into, the European Union. They did so in spite of the glaring contradictions between their ideology and post-war European values, and the outspokenly Eurosceptic positions of most of their former and current far-right cooperation partners in Central and Western Europe (e.g. France’s Front national, Germany’s NPD or Italy’s Forza Nuova).

However, at the same time, “Svoboda” and some minor similarly oriented groups have managed to insert into the entire protest movement a number of their own specifically ethno-nationalist themes, symbols, and slogans. This concerns above all the Ukrainian Insurgent Army’s red/black blood-and-soil flag, more visible today than during the 1990 and 2004 protests, and the OUN’s battle cry “Glory to Ukraine! -- To the heroes glory!” The Euromaidan’s podium presenter, Yevhen Nyshchuk, an otherwise little known theatre actor and 2004 Orange Revolution DJ, has helped to transform this slogan into the protest movement’s main motto -- mantra-like repeated hundreds of times during the last weeks.

Moreover, even such explicitly ethno-nationalist slogans like “Ukraine Above Everything!”, “Death to the Enemies!” or “Glory to the Nation!” have started being circulated, on Independence Square -- a fact explicitly criticized by, among others, popular folk-rock singer Oleh Skripka.

Most likely, the spread of these mottos is also a result of their promotion by Svoboda and other ethno-nationalist groups over-represented on the EuroMaidan, including the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, Ukrainian Platform Sobor or Right-Wing Sector.

In his speeches, Tiahnybok has used formulas like “national revolution” and “national state” to describe his vision of the nature and aims of the uprising. Before the current protests, Banderite slogans and symbols were heavily used only in Western Ukraine, and played a minor role in earlier protests. Today, in contrast, they have become mainstream, in the entire opposition protest movement, whether party-affiliated or not, and can be noted all over Kyiv as well as other Ukrainian cities.

The anti-national character of Ukrainian ethno-nationalism

Superficially, there may be nothing extraordinary happening today in Kyiv: Modern democratic revolutions, more often than not, had nationalist undertones – sometimes quite explicitly so.

A minority of political scientists even argue that nationalism has crucially supported liberalization and democratization in post-communist Europe. However, a distinct peculiarity of the situation in Ukraine is that the supposedly “patriotic” symbols and ideas of the war-time Organization of Ukrainian Nationalist, promoted by “Svoboda,” are not properly national, but instead implicitly separatist. [???]

The issue here is not only and not so much the ambivalent historical record of the OUN which is being praised as liberationist, by one side, and classified as fascist, by the other. It is not this fact as such that is the problem, but rather that the OUN symbols trigger positive responses only in Western and, to lesser degree, Central Ukraine. In contrast, they are seen as inappropriate or even offending by the overwhelming majority of southern and eastern Ukrainians.

W.Z. Why? Because they have been brainwashed by Soviet/Russian propaganda demonizing the Ukrainian liberation movement for the past 70 years?]

This circumstance -- and less so a lack of xenophobia and homophobia in russophone Ukraine -- is also a reason why Svoboda has been and probably will remain a minor Ukrainian political force. In spite of the considerable presence of racist stereotypes to which Svoboda appeals in Southern and Eastern Ukraine, Tiahnybok’s party cannot hope to ever collect a significant electorate there. Although calling itself All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda,” it is a regionally based party that is popular mainly in Galicia, Volyn and Kyiv as well as, to a lesser degree, in other parts of western as well as central Ukraine. Yet, it does not cover the entire country.

The prominent role of disputed historical references is all the more surprising as there are episodes and figures in Ukraine’s all-national history that are uncontroversial among most Ukrainians.

For instance, the pride of the medieval Kyivan Rus, memory of the early modern Cossack republics, adoration of the national poet Taras Shevchenko, or grief about the millions of victims of 1932-33 famine nowadays constitute themes that unite the Ukrainian nation more or less comprehensively.

The moderately nationalist Ukrainian interpretations of these and similar topics may still be regarded as offensive by official Russian or pro-Russian Ukrainian historians. Nevertheless, even southern and eastern Ukrainians with Russian ties tend to support the mainstream Ukrainian view on, for instance, the Holodomor as a peculiarly Ukrainian tragedy. While many russophone Ukrainians feel, in one way or another, bound to Russia, they often nevertheless regard the current ambivalent portrayal of Stalin by the Kremlin-promoted media and Ukrainian Communist Party as inappropriate. There are thus a number of important historical periods and figures the interpretation of which is largely uncontentious and unites most Ukrainians in the west and east.

In contrast, the proper evaluation of the actions and ideology of the so-called Bandera movement is Ukraine’s by far most contentious historical question. Many Galicians and some central Ukrainians -- above all Svoboda’s followers -- tend to see the OUN and its military wing, the UPA, in exclusively epic terms. Ukrainophone nationalists, resembling their colleagues in the Baltics, even heroize known Nazi collaborators among the OUN leadership, like Roman Shukhevych, a one-time Hauptsturmführer of the infamous Schutzmannschaften.

[W.Z. Any so-called "collaboration" of Roman Shukhevych and the OUN leadership was directly related to the establishment of an independent Ukraine and not for the benefit of Germany. See
Relations between OUN-UPA and Germany  cdvrua, 17Dec2012; Ivan Patrylyak [45:26 and 43:09, Ukr/English summary]]

In contrast, millions of eastern and southern Ukrainians regard the same persons as either alien to their historic traditions, or even as despicable traitors in the Soviet Union’s nations’ joint struggle against fascism. These divisions in Ukraine’s historical discourse are common places among those interested in Ukrainian politics -- whether in- or outside Ukraine. The geographically divided memory of World War II has been confirmed in dozens of opinion polls and regional studies.

[W.Z. Why has this geographic dichotomy existed since 1991? Why did not President Leonid Kravchuk declare Roman Shukhevych, the UPA and other participants in the Ukrainian liberation movement as heroes on January 22, 1992 -- the day Ukrainians commemorated Ukraine's short-lived independence since 1918? Such a declaration would have been accepted without a murmer of protest at that time. Why did this declaration have to wait until President Viktor Yushchenko's decree in 2010? Why is Andreas Umland demonizing Oleh Tyahnybok for doing what every President and Ukrainian political leader should have been doing since 1991?]

The Ukrainian patriots’ flight from reality

In spite of their obviousness, the implications of these facts for Ukrainian party politics, public debates and intellectual discourse are insufficiently discussed by Ukraine’s political leaders, activists and analysts.

The division in the memory of World War II is acknowledged and analyzed as such. But what topical conclusions, rhetorical strategies, and political actions would have to follow from them? Instead of asking and answering such questions, Ukraine’s patriots distract or escape from these difficult issues.

When confronted with the contradiction between their support for spreading Banderite nationalism and the incongruent historical memory of millions of eastern and southern Ukrainians, they use escapist tactics that avoid debating the actual challenge. They either engage in pseudo-historic lectures that whitewash the war-time Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, or they use neo-Soviet “whataboutism” asking: What about this or that inconsistency in the historical memory of this or that other country?

The patriots’ history lectures often simply repeat the OUN hagiography of those Ukrainian history writers who have manifest sympathies for, or even organizational ties to, their object of study. They restate the stories told by self-ascribed history experts who seldom or never publish in leading academic journals, and do not attend relevant international scientific congresses. The patriots’ “What about?” questions sometimes concern only partly comparable issues abroad (e.g. in Israel), or seek to offset their own ambivalent preferences against those of others (e.g. Poles). If East Ukrainian communists praise Stalin, why should west Ukrainian nationalist not be able to praise Bandera? -- is one of the most absurd “arguments” one sometimes hears even from educated Ukrainians.

The main defect of these responses is that they divert attention to a pseudo-analytical or para-comparative debate about the nature of the OUN rather than focusing on how to solve a rather salient practical-political problem of today Ukraine.

Instead of trying to find an answer of how to formulate a historical narrative that may be acceptable to most citizens of Ukraine, the apologists usually start a different discussion about who is right or wrong. Often these rebuttals include an explicit or implicit diminishing of the opponent as either a naive victim or a mischievous propagator of Soviet-Russian Kremlin propaganda. Such debates thus only further deepen rather than heal the divide between different parts of Ukraine. The “Ukrainian patriots’” mumblings about history, morality and comparability actively undermine rather than support the ideational foundations that a consolidation of the Ukrainian state needs. As a result of their escapist rhetorical strategies, the supposed patriots do the exact opposite of what they claim to be doing: They are subverting rather than strengthening the Ukrainian state. Worse, with their divisive discourse, they indirectly, but effectively serve Russian neo-imperial irredentism.

For instance, the standard response to the questioning of the usefulness of an elevation of the “To the heroes – glory!” cry to the main mantra of the protest movement would be a simple switch of topics. The most autistic respondents would start a discussion of the historic origins of the older “Glory to Ukraine!” slogan simply ignoring the question about the “heroes” part.

The more responsive defenders’ reply to critique would be some trivial explanation of what this slogan means to the today demonstrators on Independence Square. One would be informed one that the cry has no deeper historic connotation for many protesters, that it expresses their emotions in such historic times, that it unites people from different regions, including russophone ones, coming to Kyiv, and so on.

Yet, the most difficult question will be stubbornly ignored: Not what do the protesters mean when they shout the slogan, but what do many Eastern and Southern Ukrainians feel when they hear “To the heroes -- glory!” For the protesters on the Maidan, including those from the Donbass or Crimea, “heroes” may be a generic term that means little beyond the concrete context of the protests. Yet, for many of their listeners in Ukraine’s east and south, the historical origins of the slogan will be known and relevant.

For them, “heroes” will actually mean UPA combatants once killing Red Army soldiers who were fighting German fascism and whose children today do not regard the UPA as heroic at all. Yet, this challenging contradiction would be simply ignored, and responded to with a pseudo-moralistic sermon about the lack of the questioner’s understanding of Ukraine’s past and present, or the anti-Ukrainian intention behind such a blasphemous question.

[W.Z. The image of "UPA combatants once killing Red Army soldiers" by shooting them in the back is completely false. In fact, the UPA welcomed Red Army deserters and even Red Army soldiers escaping from German captivity into their ranks (even though some later turned traitior). Before the arrival of the Red Army front, the UPA concentrated on the Red partisans directed by Stalin from Moscow and on local civilian agents working for Moscow. After the passage of the front, they turned their attention to the Russian occupiers and their collaborators.]

Will the Ukrainian revolution succeed?

Svoboda and the minor ethno-nationalist parties present on the Maidan have already done a lasting disservice to the Ukrainian nation by impregnating the protest movement with their peculiarly Banderite slogans, ideas and symbols unpopular in southern and eastern Ukraine.

A particularly sad outcome is that the ethno-nationalists have poisoned Ukrainian civil society with formulas that will disturb the formation of a unified Ukrainian civic community. The non-nationalist protesters who have uncritically taken over ethno-nationalist slogans and symbols are making a strategic mistake: When utilizing ambivalent historical references in their fight against a semi-authoritarian regime, they may be helping to undermine the Ukrainian state.

Oddly, they also create considerable uneasiness in the opposition’s relations with the European Union and particularly Poland -- Ukraine’s most faithful friend in Europe. A whole number of more or less prominent Western representatives and institutions, among them the European Parliament, have repeatedly and unequivocally spoken out against heroization of the OUN. Indirectly, the protesters using OUN symbols or slogans would be assisting rather than fighting Putin’s imperialist divide-et-impera policies in the post-Soviet space.

For Jan. 01, 2014, Svoboda has announced that it intends to organize a big celebration of Stepan Bandera’s 105th birthday in Kyiv. This will not only give the Kremlin and his agents in Ukraine an additional excellent opportunity to discredit the EuroMaidan. It threatens -- even without the unavoidable Russian political spin -- to make on many people in and outside Ukraine a misleading impression about the origins, substance and aims of the current protests at Kyiv. As result of a worst-case scenario, one day historians may conclude that Putin and Tiahnybok did jointly succeed in tearing the young Ukrainian state apart. [and Andreas Umland helped?]

Andreas Umland is an associate professor of political science at Kyiv Mohyla Academy.


Bohdan Pechenyak:
The red-and-black flag is not about "blood and soil". Do not mix Nazi symbolism with Ukrainian symbolism. You SHOULD KNOW and you DO KNOW better than that, Andreas. Red-and-black flag is also "love and sorrow". Love for Ukraine and sorrow due to its many trials and tribulations.

Neither is the slogan "Glory to Ukraine!" - "Glory to the heroes!" an exclusively "OUN battle cry". It has become an all-Ukrainian slogan. Is there any problem with "God bless America!"? or any such slogan in other countries. Please, don't be a hypocrite. Glory to Ukraine! ))

Now, the slogans "Glory to the nation! - Death to its enemies!" and "Ukraine above all else!" I disapprove as well, as many others do. Yet even those slogans are not meant in an aggressive manner by most people - if you actually did some research on the ground, you would have realized that. Most people simply mean the criminal government and the Kremlin politics by "the enemies", not the ethnic minorities in Ukraine. And although "Ukraine above all else!" echoes "Deutschland uber alles!" - something, to which a German such as yourself is liable to be particularly and overly sensitive - it is not meant in the same manner, but only to emphasize that it is important to have a government that CARES about Ukraine and puts it above their own interests. As well as it's important for the ordinary people to put the common good of the country above their own egoistic interests. Solidarity, otherwise.

Again, don't be a hypocrite. Or a myopic ideological hack. You can do better than that, I KNOW IT. Please do.

Michael Piyevsky:
Лозунги, символика и слова абсолютно вторичны в нынешней ситуации. Люди обращают внимание на поступки.

Andreas Umland:
A 2009 KIIS survey commissioned by Ivan Katchanovski indicates what Eastern and Southern Ukrainians who know to whom "Heroiam slava!" initially referred may feel. See https://www.academia.edu/454566/Terrorists_or_National_Heroes_Politics_of_the_OUN_and_the_UPA_In_Ukraine A very pro-Western women from Odessa told me on Maidan, in early December, that she cringes every time she hears the slogan.

Bohdan Pechenyak:
Yes, reposting the same thing over and over is the way to go - repetition is the basis for knowledge, they say )))... or brainwashing, depending on how you look at it.

Ridiculous. Teenage behavior is ridiculous, especially when exhibited by the so-called "experts".

Vasyl Pawlowsky:
Anders, often has some very good analysis, though I seem to think that this is a bit of a twisted interpretation of the realities. True Putin's spin doctors will try to us this BS in any way they can. Just like the Soviet's Published their own version of the Nuremburg Trials which did not include the volumes which exhonerated OUN as colaborators as the Soviets liked to put them out to be. I am not saying that all political parities right now don't have skeletons in their closets, but no one is innocent here. If the Poles are upset they should take all look at why such transgressions were taken against them. I recommend you take the time to watch Yuriy Luhovy's film Bereza Kartuzka... It will give you some very good history lessons as to why OUN and UPA did what it did to their Polish occupiers. As per the comment that it was the Red Army.. you are wrong Anders, anyone who was an occupier was considered an enemy. This is a part of history that many in the East, particularly in the area where many where shipped in to replace the millions who had died in a famine, that was a genocide, and is still denied by most scum of the Party of Regions and the Communist Party. The biggest problem as that Ukraine is still in a post genocidal mentality - particulary of those who are genocide deniers. For the most part these are individuals who are the progeny that benefited of being resettled from wherever they were in Russia to Ukraine in order to dilute the Ukrainian population. I once respected your analysis but I am starting to think that you are trying to publish things which will be considered politically correct in case the criminal government stays in power.

Myron Postolan:
Why on earth does the Kyiv Post need to employ such a second rate "Associate professor" to spout an outdated and one sided view of Ukrainian history. The only positive thing drawn from the biased article here is that it shows the true colours of the author. Andreas Umland failed miserably in his attempt to produce "disinformation" about Svoboda (and others) and casts total doubt on his professionalism and adequacy as a writer for your newspaper.

Оксана Віятик:
Цілком погоджуюся з вами . Стаття напсана під заказ щоб дискридитувати визвольну боротьбу . Тільки автор статті не розрахував , що час змінився і зараз по-російски можна почути -- да я банеровец і горджуся цим ,казати що Путін і Тягнибок роблят якусь спільну справу може лише людина яка дуже не любить Україну і аж ніяк не хоче її добра .

Mat Babyak:
Umland, as always, lets his personal biases get in the way of his writing. The fact that he uses the pejorative "Banderite" in the title says enough about how tainted his opinion is. Surprised he didn't start ranting about Mazepists.

Jay Tkachuk:
So, some negativity towards the OUN and UPA, and here comes a mass assault .... Classy. I am a Ukrainian and Maidan reflects my position on what must happen in the country, but I refuse to lionize organisations and their leaders whose goals, no matter how noble, were overshadowed by the pure evil of their actions. Extreme nationalism is a disease, and it doesn't matter whether it's Ukrainian, German, Russian, etc. Massacring minorities and terrorism against civilians is not the way to build a state. Never was, never will. Thus, I also refuse to lionize the Soviets, Russians before them, Mongols and Turks before them, etc.
I am from Odessa, and although I am a Ukrainian I prefer the original spelling because it reflects the Greek origin of the name. The territory of Ukraine has always been, since the dawn of civilization, a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual conglomerate. To defeat those who have the power now, we must stand as a nation united, and let go of extreme preconceived notions of history that have little factual evidence behind them. On all sides.

Jerry Kocijowsky:
Why is being called a nationalist in Ukraine such an evil thing. Being a nationalist is love for your country and being a patriot for your country. Everywhere in the world being a nationalist is good except in Ukraine. I do not get it. Seems to me, this thinking is a residual mindset from the soviet times. This type of thinking in those days was contrary to the universal new soviet society (aka being in the russian empire), nationalism is good. Whenever you sing the national anthem of a country you are a nationalist for that country. Bandera was a nationalist for Ukraine, pure and simple, and even though he is no longer with us, his ideals hold sway. Being a free country is what he wanted. I do not consider this to be an evil thing but a good thing. So if these slogans are heard in the Euromaidan there is nothing wrong with that, the more slogans of this type, the better.

Valentyn Puchka:
Right now, “Glory to Ukraine! – To the heroes glory!” means just one thing - people can`t live under gorilla government any more! If you , Andreas, don`t hear this I`m really sorry....You don`t know what you are writing about ...

Maria Ashot:
Excellent and much-needed analysis. Celebrating the 105th birthday of Stepan Bandera, unless you are a member of his immediate family, is a completely unacceptable proposal. It is also a huge distraction from the very real drama of this year, not 105 or 95 or 75 or even 65 years ago. There are much bigger fish to fry. The plain and simple fact is, after the fall of the Russian Empire that had Saint Petersburg as its capital, when the Bolsheviks usurped power late in 1917, a harrowing Civil War began in which families were all too-often split down the middle as father, brothers, cousins, close friends and in-laws too many times chose opposite sides. In that brutal conflict, the side that won -- via worse brutality -- was not the side with the higher moral ground or better cause. And by suppressing further resistance and opposition with even more elaborate & monumental atrocities, the Communist police state sowed the seeds for further bloodletting in the following generation… As soon as another World War dissolved borders, added chaos, and unleashed loose weapons and ammunition into the vast conflict zone, the continuation of fratricidal conflict began… My mother, miraculously surviving the experience, told us all about the horrors she had witnessed, when neighbours turned against neighbours, cousins betrayed cousins and all kinds of brutality was excused in the name of "a mighty Ukraine" that could justify mass murder of "enemies" (basically anyone who did not fit the precise Bandera-approved ideological, cultural & philosophical prescription for "being Ukrainian"). THIS APPROACH IS DOOMED TO FAILURE. Instead of focusing on the real cause of all the trouble -- Marxism-Leninism-Bolshevism-Stalinism and now Putinism -- it allows itself to become consumed with embittered debates and controversies about painful events far removed from the immediate reality of our time. To succeed in the present situation, the focus must be laser-sharp on the one and only topic that actually matters: improving the living conditions and prospects of young Ukrainians by systematically meeting the standards and requirements of the European Union. Let the historians of the future sort out facts from myths, C-a-n-t (look the word up, Facebook autocorrectors!) and Dogma from Substance and Inspiration, what is delusional from what is valid. In a civilised society, there is always room for a range of views about anything, but to make headway with any programme you have to be able to reason & chart a course that actually achieves more than the endless pounding of increasingly meaningless words with the pestle of overblown rhetoric, as if you were trying to grind water (воду в ступе толочь). Leave the past alone. God will sort it out for you on Judgment Day. You deal with reality. Front & Centre.

Elmer Mack:
what an abysmally stupid article

The Kremlin is going to try to discredit Ukraine?


They are the ones who assassinated Bandera,

They were terrified of Bandera even after he was dead!!!!!!!!!

I strongly suggest, Andreas, that you pay attention to the comments of Bohdan Pechenyak and others here

Ukraine stands up for its country - idiots like you immediately label that as some sort of a crime

"We mustn't offend the Kremlin" - right, Andreas?

The Kremlin is a bunch of brutal, psychotic thugs, Andreas

Always has been

And they rely on disinformation, distortion and deception - just like you have in your article

Zygmunt Janiewicz:
"For them, “heroes” will actually mean UPA combatants once killing Red Army soldiers who were fighting German fascism and whose children today do not regard the UPA as heroic at all"

Well, notwithstanding the fact that I concur with most of Mr. Umland's conclusions, I strongly recommend that he describe the Stalinist Soviet Union as a fascist state as well as Nazi Germany.

The Stalinist Soviet Union, together with Nazi Germany, co-started WW2 by attacking Poland without declaring war on the 17th of September 1939 and murdering tens of if not over one hundred thousand Ukrainians and Poles in Western Ukraine that was part of the Second Republic of Poland's territory.

In summary, the Soviet Union was as much a FASCIST STATE as Nazi Germany. Putin and Yanukovych flirt with fascism as well.

Hurd Harley:
Personally i have read all reports coming out of Euromaidan and have not heard one word about Bandera. The professor may have some good ideas, but I think it would be better and less divisive if he were to go to leaders of Svoboda and explain his ideas and try some persuasion.

Микола Данчук:
Maybe "Честь України" - "Готов Боронити" would be more of a positive call to action. Lest we surrender our souls and remain slaves to a system which seeks to keep a boothheal on the voices of the people.

Yarema Bachynsky:
I support Prof. Umland's right to express his opinion, just as I support the right of the Kyiv Post editorial board to publish such material. I also believe that it is a disgrace to Ukraine that some have called for his removal from Ukraine - though not surprising, as one would expect no less from the Putinite Fifth Column now high on the hog in Ukraine... That having been said,I disagree with Prof. Umland's arguments and conclusion. I also think that Ukrainians have the right to cry out glory to their country and their heroes. Ukraine, unlike some other countries, has never waged aggressive war, together with what is now Putin's Russia, on an entire continent or the entire world. Nor has Umland's nation been the target and victim of genocide, unless you consider the millions of Germans who died after being evicted from Silesia, victims of genocide. I think a bit more humility and balance is in order when weighing and judging the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, OUN, and Ukraine's bloody and complex mid-20th century history. It would also be nice to know what, exactly, Umland means when he uses the term "ethno-nationalists" and why he sets them diametrically opposite "civil society" (for future op eds). As for the red and black flag, I'm not an expert, and people I respect are on both sides of the fence. I will leave this to historians such as Stanislav Kulchytsky, Orest Subtelny, etc. Prof. Umland may also consider talking with Volodymyr Vyatrovych about this issue. Dr. Vyatrovych has considerable experience and knowledge in this area.

Michael Hnatyshyn:
Umland is a lefty progressive. Nationalism is a foreign concept to them. They equate it more with fascism than patriotism.

Bohdan Pechenyak:
Yes, and he is also a German, who are known to have a serious complex with regard to their Nazi past. This exacerbates the issue, it seems to me. It is understandable, of course, for Germans. But applying the same twisted logic to Ukrainians is an egregious error. Seemingly, Andreas is unaware of it. Or is he?

Andreas Umland:
A 2009 KIIS survey commissioned by Ivan Katchanovski indicates what Eastern and Southern Ukrainians who know to whom "Heroiam slava!" initially referred may feel. See https://www.academia.edu/454566/Terrorists_or_National_Heroes_Politics_of_the_OUN_and_the_UPA_In_Ukraine A very pro-Western women from Odessa told me on Maidan, in early December, that she cringes every time she hears the slogan.

Bohdan Pechenyak:
Does it really matter what they feel? Let me ask you this question:
How many signatures do I have to collect from people who disapprove of your distorted portrayals for you to STOP writing?

Ridiculous question? I'd say. Just as your arguments are ridiculous. People who are brainwashed by the Soviet propaganda do not have the same claim on reality as those who are fighting for Ukraine's future, in my humble opinion. Let them educate themselves better.

We are not here to cater to the victims of propaganda. Nor to the sources of such propaganda, into one of which you have progressively yet surely turned. Maybe you should limit your activities with academia, where your opinions can be appropriately challenged? Don't pretend to be a "public intellectual". You don't have any talent for it, clearly.

Bohdan Pechenyak:
And using Ivan Katchanovski - another well-known distortionist of truth, who shows blatant disregard for the realities in Ukraine and complete misunderstanding of history and society, not to mention his biased perceptions and "analyses" - is just another sign of how cliquish you all have become. Citing one another is well and nice, but it does not grant any of you more credibility. Quite the contrary.

Bohdan Pechenyak:
"A very pro-Western woman from Odesa" (Odessa is a Russian spelling, Odesa - is properly Ukrainian, Andreas. You should know that by now. Please catch up with your spellings, it's embarrassing to have to correct you.)

Yes, anecdotal evidence is IT. You got me. Incontrovertible evidence. Case closed, verdict issued. ))))

Shame on you.