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OUN-UIA veterans demand official recognition of their status as fighters for independence of Ukraine

 

In October 2005, the governmental commission, headed by vice prime-minister Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, officially approved the findings of a group of historians concerning the activities of the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists)  UIA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) during WWII. The commission also approved the bill On Introduction of Changes into the Law of Ukraine On the Status of War Veterans and Guarantees of Their Social Protection (benefits), to be further approved by parliament. The next day saw the events in Kyivs central street, Khreshchatyk, which were witnessed by many people in Kyiv, and later by millions of TV viewers in news shows. Among eyewitnesses of the clashes in Khreshchatyk were Mariya VLAD and WU photographer Oleksiy ONISHCHUK.

 

The number of OUN-UPA veterans who survived persecution and concentration camps of the soviet era is dwindling with every passing year. This year they wanted to mark the 63rd anniversary of the OUN-UPA foundation by marching through the main street in Kyiv and holding a rally at Maydan Nezalezhnosty, (Independence Square), the scene of the Orange Revolution events late last year. The OUN-UPA fighters for independence of Ukraine regard the Virgin as their guardian and they chose October 15 as the day of the celebration because, on the one hand, it followed the day when the Feast of Pokrova (Intercession of the Holy Virgin) was celebrated, and on the other, October 15 was the 96th anniversary of Stepan Banderas birthday (S. Bandera is a legendary figure in the Ukrainian struggle for independence, one of the OUN-UPA leaders).

At 11 oclock in the morning, the festive march of OUN-UPA veterans, of their supporters, of the PORA (High Time) Party and the Narodna (Peoples) Party activists, started their peaceful march from Besarabska Square towards Maydan Nezalezhnosty, moving along the main street. At the same time, a loud crowd of Progressive Socialist Party (an extreme-left party) and Communist Party activists, All-Ukraine Soyuz sovetskikh ofitserov (Union of Soviet Officers), pro-Russian Orthodox Church activists, and others of that ilk (many of whom are ardent supporters of together-with-Russia movement), filled Maydan Nezalezhnosti with an intention of interfering with the OUN-UPA march. The square was awash with the red colour  red banners with black hammer-and-sickles  symbols of the soviet empire, red buntings, and Russian tricolours were everywhere. Among the pro-soviet and pro-Russian slogans and inscriptions on the bunting were: Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine; All-Ukraine Movement for the [Resurrection of] the Soviet Union; Novorossiya (NewRussia)  our united Fatherland, and others of a similar kind. This noisy gathering vociferously accused the OUN-UPA veterans of being fascists and fascists lackeys. Similar accusations were written on posters and on badges which were worn even by the children. Natalya Vitrenko, leader of the Party of Progressive Socialists, was, as is her wont, particularly libellous and slanderous. The crowd hurled their insulting remarks and slurs at the OUN-UPA veterans, at President Yushchenko of Ukraine and even at President Bush of the USA, both of whom were accused of being soft on fascists or even instigating the fascist revival in Ukraine. Poems and songs of seditious and inflammatory nature were recited and sung; calls Kill the enemies, kill them without pity! Everybody will rise against you, fascist riffraff  even Jews and Gypsies will be against you! were heard (this even suggests that neither the Jews not the Gypsies were considered to be the legitimate part of the Ukrainian nation). Russian newspapers Pravda, Trudovaya Rossiya (Working Russia), Raboche-Krestyanskaya Pravda (Workers-and-Peasants Truth), books by Lenin and by Stalin were on sale. The whole thing looked like a shocking and somewhat frightening throwback to the darkest period of the soviet times.

When the unaggressive OUN-UPA march was some distance away from Maydan, its further progress was blocked by the militant crowd among whom there were quite a few leftist thugs in red bandanas and vituperative inscriptions on their clothes. It did not take long for verbal abuse to escalate into clashes  even the elderly OUN-UPA veterans were not spared. Blood was drawn, though the police tried to disengage the attackers and the attacked.

The OUN-UPA were prevented from proceeding further to Maydan where they intended to hold a religious service for the dead. The veterans and their supporters decided to do it at the place where they came to a stop, but the militant leftists, prevented by the police from bodily attacking and manhandling the veterans, began throwing packets of yoghurt, mayonnaise, liquid paint and eggs at the OUN-UPA marchers. The choir Homin, led by Leopold Yashchenko, who had to provide the choral support of the prayer for the dead, were bombarded so hard that they could not go ahead with their singing. The hostile leftists spoiling for a fight numbered over eight thousand, and the OUN-UPA marchers whose number did not exceed three thousand, were no match for the leftist thugs.

The city authorities are evidently to blame for failing to prevent the confrontation. One cannot help wondering why the leftist gatherings marking the occasions of the soviet feasts never come under such attacks, and are well protected from disruptive actions.

In this country, for the freedom and independence of which we fought, we have become like aliens. The former members of punitive detachments, former members of the KGB are respected, they receive all kinds of privileges and social benefits, and members of the Ukrainian national liberation movement have been left with nothing, said Teodor Dyachun, a participant of the OUN-UPA march and head of the OUN-UPA society in Bila Tserkva. And there was bitter truth in his words.

It should be mentioned here, that according to the soviet documents, unearthed in archives, over 500,000 OUN-UPA members were either killed or executed by the year 1952. There are only about twelve thousand OUN-UPA veterans still living.

Ukraine should achieve a political reconciliation in society; something should be done about social protection and social benefits for the OUN-UPA veterans (they have none). There is also an issue of morality and political will of the current leaders and government of Ukraine  leaders whom the OUN-UPA veterans supported during the Orange Revolution.

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