January 7, 2015
Translated from Russian by J. Hawk
For the majority of Ukrainians Bandera is a symbol of struggle for freedom. That is the announcement issued on January 5, 2015, by the press service of the Ukrainian Embassy in the Czech Republic, reacting to the Czech President [Zeman’s] criticism of the torchlight parade held in honor of Stepan Bandera in Kiev.
The embassy noted that “in its official relationship with Prague it’s taking into account the official position of the Czech government which supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and does not put into doubt Russia’s involvement in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine”.
Moreover, the Ukrainian embassy added that in spite of the various interpretations of Stepan Bandera’s activities, “for the majority of Ukrainians he is a symbol of the struggle for freedom and independence of our State.”
Whether that last statement is actually true is highly debatable—Bandera is far more popular in the Western part of the country than the Eastern one. It is beyond dispute, however, that Bandera is a hero to the current government of Ukraine. Controversies concerning Bandera notwithstanding, a few things are beyond dispute: he was an ally of Adolf Hitler and a mass murderer in his own right, a proponent of ethnic cleansing and genocide in order to create a “pure”, and totalitarian, Ukrainian state on the model of Nazi Germany. If people like that can be rehabilitated in the name of “freedom” and “independence”, it can be reasonably asked why similar treatment cannot be afforded to other stalwart fighters for freedom and independence of their respective countries, starting with Adolf Hitler himself. In the long term, it is highly unlikely any Ukrainian state that views Bandera as its “founding father” can enjoy good relations with any of its neighbors, including Western ones.