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Criticizing OUN/UPA Now Illegal in Ukraine

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14th Waffen SS "Galician Division" troops inspected by Himmler: The division was recruited from the ranks of OUN/B UPA

COMMENT: A new law passed by the Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) bestows entitlements on surviving members of the OUN and its military wing, the UPA.

Furthermore, the law makes it illegal to criticize those Third Reich allies in their activities on behalf of Nazi Germany–it is those activities that constituted Ukraine’s drive for “independence.”

“Rada Rec­og­nizes OUN and UPA Mem­bers as Fight­ers for Inde­pen­dence of Ukraine”; Zik.ua; 4/9/2015.

“The state acknowl­edges that the fight­ers for Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence played an impor­tant role in rein­stat­ing the country’s state­hood declared on Aug. 24, 1991,” the law runs.

In com­pli­ance with the law, the gov­ern­ment will pro­vide social guar­an­tees and bestow hon­ors on OUN-UPA fighters.

“Pub­lic denun­ci­a­tion of the role of OUN-UPA in restor­ing the inde­pen­dence of Ukraine is ille­gal,” the law says.

Programs covering the Ukraine crisis are: FTR #’s 777778779780781782, 783784794800803804, 808811817818824826829832833837.

Discussion

4 comments for “Criticizing OUN/UPA Now Illegal in Ukraine”

  1. Oh look: Kiev is about to pass a law “on the condemnation of the communist and nationalist-socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes in Ukraine and ban on the propaganda of their symbols” and yet a “section of article 436 of the criminal cade, which forbids “denying or justifying” the crimes of fascism, the Waffen-SS or those who “cooperated with the fascist occupants,” has been removed, leaving only a ban on using “symbols of the Nazi totalitarian regime“. Imagine that:

    The Nation
    Will Ukraine’s New Anti-Communist Law Usher in a Free Speech Dark Age?

    The law, still to be signed by the president, is more about silencing the left than anything else.

    Alec Luhn
    April 13, 2015

    Including “communist” in the name of a political party, selling a Soviet-flag souvenir or even singing the Soviet hymn would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison, according to a new law passed by Ukraine’s parliament.

    The law “on the condemnation of the communist and nationalist-socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes in Ukraine and ban on the propaganda of their symbols” is ostensibly supposed to prevent the recurrence of Soviet-style repressions, but critics say it would limit free speech and marginalize the already embattled left. Although president Petro Poroshenko has yet to sign the law against communist propaganda, the bill received 254 votes and was sponsored by members of his own party, among others.

    “Even if the state won’t be interested in persecuting Ukraine’s marginal, weak leftist organizations, the far right will likely use this law … to harass politicians and also scholars on the basis that they are not critical enough of the Soviet Union or are over-critical of Ukrainian nationalists,” Volodymyr Ishchenko, deputy director of the Center for Social and Labor Research and a member of the editorial board of the progressive journal Commons, told The Nation.

    Meanwhile, another law passed last Thursday recognizes as independence fighters a controversial nationalist group accused of ethnic cleansing and collaboration with the Nazis.

    The new laws would likely tap into widespread anger with Russia, which has backed a separatist campaign in eastern Ukraine. But they would also further provoke tensions within Ukrainian society, which has been fractured by a pro-Russian separatist campaign that enjoys popular support in eastern Ukraine. A peace plan sponsored by France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia foresees constitutional reforms giving the rebel-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine greater autonomy.

    The anti-totalitarian law is less wide-reaching than a bill introduced last year that proposed banning “communist ideology,” and it’s hard to disagree with its condemnation of the repressions conducted under the Soviet regime. But it also would give the authorities the power to shut down any organization that makes even oblique reference to the communist tradition.

    Public use of the symbols of the USSR or other eastern bloc countries, including the Soviet hymn and the hammer and sickle, would be punishable by up to five years in prison for an individual, or up to ten years for an organization. (The ban would apparently even include “The Internationale,” which the Soviet Union used as its national anthem until 1944.) If a political party, mass media outlet or other group of citizens engages in “propaganda” of the communist or Nazi regimes or uses their symbols, it could be denied registration or ordered to cease its activities.

    The law would also apparently legalize Ukraine’s “Leninfall,” the tearing down of Lenin monuments in cities around the country. Among the banned items are monuments, pictures or quotations featuring anyone who had the rank of district committee secretary or higher in the communist party, as well as monuments or pictures of actions committed by the communist party. In eastern cities like Kharkiv, where nationalists tore down the central Lenin statue in September, pro-Russian locals have previously defended such monuments.

    It would also entail the renaming of a huge number of cities and streets, since it bans the use of names taken from communist leaders and “connected with the activities of the communist party.” This huge and fraught bureaucratic challenge would be one more task on top of the many reforms demanded of Kiev under its loan program from the International Monetary Fund. More importantly, it would only contribute to the split in Ukrainian society, which has seen thousands in the largely Russian speaking east take up arms against perceived persecution by a more nationalist government.

    “The legislation bans citations of Lenin, which means that we’ll need to destroy half of our academic works, it bans all communist symbols, which means a war veteran will forbidden from wearing the Red Star medal he shed his blood for,” said Pyotr Simonenko, the leader of Ukraine’s communist party, which will have to change its name. “All this is a path to an even bigger schism in Ukrainian society and a continuation of war.”

    Even though the Ukrainian group Left Opposition has criticized the communist party for its defense of Vladimir Putin’s “conservative and imperialistic policies,” it also condemned the law, noting that it had been found to be overly harsh by the Ukrainian parliament’s own research department. In an analysis, the group argued that since the law forbids not only propaganda but also “information justifying the criminal character of the communist regime,” almost anyone can be accused.

    “This document will strike a blow to academic discussions, create an instrument for repression, and hinder the struggle against oligarchy and the creation of a real left alternative,” it wrote.

    Bill sponsor Yury Lutsenko, a former internal affairs minister who was imprisoned under former president Viktor Yanukovych, argued that the legislation “doesn’t ban ideology, because that’s not acceptable in any democratic country.”

    “This legislation bans a totalitarian regime under whatever colors it uses, fascist, communist, any others,” he told journalists.

    But the law is not so much anti-totalitarian as it is anti-Russian, and its content dwells more on communism than Nazism. Its sponsors pointedly pushed it through before the celebration on May 9 of the defeat of Nazi Germany. The St. George ribbon commemorating the Soviet victory has become a de-facto symbol for the pro-Russian campaign in eastern Ukraine, which the Kremlin and the rebels have described as a similar struggle against fascism.

    Other eastern bloc countries that left Russia’s orbit after the breakup of the Soviet Union, in particular Poland and the Baltics, passed similar anti-communist laws. But Ishchenko, who is working on an analysis of these laws, said the Ukrainian legislation is “far more repressive than laws in other European countries.” In particular, he said it limits academic research by stipulating that you can cite symbols or propaganda of a communist regime only if you’re not legitimizing it.

    The legislation could also encourage far-right groups in their conflicts with leftist activists. During the Euromaidan protests in Kiev in the winter of 2013-14, nationalist groups intimidated and even attacked left-wing activists.

    Perversely, the anti-totalitarian law reportedly softens regulations on pro-Nazi speech in one case: A section of article 436 of the criminal cade, which forbids “denying or justifying” the crimes of fascism, the Waffen-SS or those who “cooperated with the fascist occupants,” has been removed, leaving only a ban on using “symbols of the Nazi totalitarian regime.”

    While it’s not clear why this article was changed, it could be seen to benefit some nationalist organizations. Notably, the pro-Kiev Azov volunteer battalion fighting in eastern Ukraine, many of whose members have expressed neo-Nazi views, uses the wolfsangel symbol that was also employed by a Waffen-SS tank division. And one of the troubling legacies of today’s Ukrainian nationalists is that members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, their ideological predecessor, have been accused of collaborating with the Nazis.

    Another law passed last Thursday declared fighters of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and others to be “members of the struggle for Ukraine’s independence.” While the law would mainly entitle nationalist fighters to more government benefits, it also helps more firmly establish their reputation as heroes of the state, despite the fact that nationalists also reportedly orchestrated ethnic cleansing that killed thousands of Poles and Jews during the war years.

    David Marples, a history professor specializing in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine at the University of Alberta, called the law a “crude distortion of the past” that lumps controversial nationalist organizations like the UPA together with less ruthless ones, lending credence to Kremlin claims that the Kiev government is run by nationalists.

    “Presumably now historians can be arrested for denying the heroism of [nationalist] Stepan Bandera or the father of the introducer of the bill, [UPA leader] Roman Shukheyvch,” Marples wrote in a blog post. “Russian trolls operating on social networks, very prominently featured in Western media over the past week, have now acquired new and authentic ammunition for their verbal arsenals.”

    Karasyov said “some time needs to pass” before Ukraine will be ready for a “balanced view” of its 20th century nationalist movement. “Now the authorities are rushing laws through, they often don’t take into account the opinions of southeast and opposition block,” he said, referring to the country’s more pro-Russian areas.

    If the nationalists now in parliament have their way, the anti-totalitarian legislation may be only the start. Deputy Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the nationalist Svoboda Party, called on the government to go further and pass a “ban on communist ideology,” cancel pensions for former Soviet officials and completely ban the Communist party’s activities.

    “Presumably now historians can be arrested for denying the heroism of [nationalist] Stepan Bandera or the father of the introducer of the bill, [UPA leader] Roman Shukheyvch”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 13, 2015, 1:17 pm
  2. Here’s an article about how Ukraine’s new “anti-communism” laws are basically being used by the Kiev government as the political equivalent of a shiny objects designed to condemn and distorting the horrors of the past in order to distract the rabble from the horrors of the present:

    Politico
    Ukrainian PM leads charge to erase Soviet history

    Championing anti-communist legislation has allowed Arseniy Yatsenyuk to evade accusations of corruption.

    By Maxim Eristavi

    27/4/15, 4:06 PM CET

    Updated 27/4/15, 5:50 PM CET

    KIEV — Two weeks after a high-profile double-assassination in Kiev on April 16, conspiracy theories about the cause of the killings are still swirling around the city.

    “[The] parade of political murders obviously is not coincidental,” Victoria Sumar, a top official in Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s party, the People’s Front, wrote in a public Facebook post: “It is a special operation which will be used for political and informational battle, for destabilization.”

    Even well-known young reformists like Svitlana Zalischuk, a new MP in President Petro Poroshenko’s bloc, are sure of Kremlin involvement. “In my opinion, this destabilization has foreign roots and is very useful for our enemy,” she told me, adding that after the recent ceasefire, fomenting political chaos inside Ukraine is Russia’s logical next step.

    Ukrainian media has capitalized on the uncertainty and paranoia surrounding the murders. “Kremlin Provocation” flashed across TV screens just hours after the murders.

    The search for Ukraine’s “internal enemies” and “provocateurs” runs wild not only through social networks and media, but inside legislative chambers, too. “Soviet” has become a dirty word in Ukrainian politics, a new synonym for “traitor” or “spy.”

    On April 9, the Ukrainian parliament passed a set of three bills, which would ban Communist and Nazi symbols as well as anything that can credibly be deemed “propaganda of true nature.” Similar laws were drafted in 2002, 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2013, but they all failed to materialize under governments with close ties to Moscow. Designed as a means of legislative closure with the past, the most recent attempts were inspired by similar measures passed in other post-Soviet countries during the so-called “de-communization” period of the 1990s. But unlike in Poland, Georgia, or the Baltics, the Ukrainian copycat laws are much more radical. Thrown together haphazardly, it passed quickly, without any public debate.

    At first, the draft law was envisioned as a powerful manifesto in times of devastating war. Both at home and abroad, the conflict in Ukraine is perceived as a battle between two runaway forces: those fighting for a democratic and prosperous future with Europe versus the Soviet past, symbolized by rising geopolitical nostalgia for neighboring Russia.

    A bipartisan group of thirteen members of parliament co-authored the legislation, including promising young politicians like one of the bill’s co-authors, Hanna Hopko. “If we had managed to pass [these laws] when we got our independence in 1991, I think that Russian aggression wouldn’t be possible,” Hopko said. “I’d be happy if my 4-year old daughter could stop seeing Lenin monuments on our streets… We need new heroes of Ukrainian history.”

    The shadow of the Soviet Union is ubiquitous in Ukraine. Today’s twenty-somethings grew up on streets named after Soviet heroes and lived in homes bearing hammer and sickle moldings. In many families, men hand down Red Army medals from generation to generation.

    If the new legislation passes, simply displaying Soviet symbols could land you in prison for up to five years. All streets, districts, villages, and cities with Soviet names would have to be renamed, a so-called “topographical revolution” costing an estimated $1.5 billion (€1.38 billion). Communities with Soviet names, already struggling in Ukraine’s emaciated economy, would have to foot the bill for the rebranding; neither state nor local budgets have the necessary funding. Some also fear the laws would lead to a spike in vandalism — unsanctioned demolitions of Soviet monuments and symbols are already a part of daily routine in Ukraine.

    The strictest provisions of the bill expose its haphazard nature. The vague language contains provisions banning the “denial of true nature of the communist regime” that could get one’s media license suspended or political party banned, and the laws’ authors deliberately excluded the Red Army’s legacy from the legislation — the issue is simply too politically toxic. The General Scientific-Expert Board, the parliament’s law review body found that the laws violate the Ukrainian constitution on at least four counts.

    Human rights activists are also concerned. “We are still waiting for the final text of the laws to be published, but analyzing the draft I can see a restriction on freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly in there,” Tanya Mazur explains, the head of Amnesty International Ukraine. “We are really disappointed with such populist steps by the Ukrainian parliament,” she adds, concerned that the laws might target disproportionally the radical left, because of vague language.

    Hopko called such concerns the products of “manipulation” and “exaggeration.”

    But the main reason why the anti-communist laws are so poorly composed is because their primary purpose is not to eliminate propaganda, but to provide a powerful boost for its sponsors in upcoming local elections scheduled for October 2015, explained Dmitry Lytvyn, a political analyst based in Kiev
    . “Ukrainian laws like this one always seem to be falling from the sky out of nowhere,” Lytvyn said. “It is a perfect distraction from real problems with the sinking economy and corruption. Now, for the next six months of the campaign for local elections we don’t have to debate the government’s record, but will fight about new names for our streets and cities.”

    Facing corruption allegations and a tanking approval rating six months before elections, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s party, the People’s Front, is leading the charge to erase the remnants of Ukraine’s Soviet legacy. The initial anti-communist law was drafted by the party’s top brass, who proposed to ban far-left ideology altogether, outlawing exhibitions of communism, Leninism, and Marxism. When that version was deemed too radical, a new draft was issued employing softer rhetoric to garner a wider spectrum of bipartisan support. It was in this secondary phase that the proposal to ban “Nazi propaganda” was also included, as well as an initiative to open Soviet archives, one of the more effective parts of the legislation.

    In recent months, Yatsenyuk’s party has lurched to the right as corruption allegations have threatened its legitimacy. A number of far-right figures have been elevated to government posts under its watch: Dmytro Yarosh, the controversial leader of the far-right “Right Sector” was appointed an adviser to the army’s chief of staff, and a suspected far-right leader was recently made Kiev police chief. The news has led to speculation that the People’s Front is using political appointments to pacify potential allies and stymie its plunging approval ratings.

    Sensing blood in the water, a handful of MPs from Batkivshchyna, the party of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, along with the far-right Svoboda party and one legislator from President Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc demanded the creation of a committee to investigate corruption allegations against Yatsenyuk and his team back in March. Talk of corruption rumors came up in diplomatic talks between Ukraine and the EU, according to several diplomatic sources.

    Championing the anti-communist laws emerged as a convenient way for Yatsenyuk to divert the news cycle, diverting the nation’s attention away from his party’s corruption scandal.

    In case you missed it:

    The initial anti-communist law was drafted by the party’s top brass, who proposed to ban far-left ideology altogether, outlawing exhibitions of communism, Leninism, and Marxism. When that version was deemed too radical, a new draft was issued employing softer rhetoric to garner a wider spectrum of bipartisan support. It was in this secondary phase that the proposal to ban “Nazi propaganda” was also included, as well as an initiative to open Soviet archives, one of the more effective parts of the legislation.

    Yep, the anti-Nazi (except for the Wolfsangel) provisions to Ukraine’s new anti-ideology laws were only added as afterthought to “garner a wider spectrum of bipartisan support”. It’s about priorities. Horrible priorities.

    Look over there everyone! A shiny object!

    Now what was everyone all upset about again?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 28, 2015, 2:56 pm
  3. The recent decision of the Verkhovna Rada to recognize the Ukrainian Insurgent Army fighters, well known to everyone here, in Poland, as mass killers of thousands of our compatriots in Wolyn and Galicia,
    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1234328
    as the country’s freedom fighters
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/20/ukraine-decommunisation-law-soviet
    has provoked great indignation, especially among those who suffered from UPA-OUN Nazis’ atrocities. And our EU leaders must realize at last that such honoring of the Nazi collaborators makes our further cooperation with Ukraine practically impossible now.

    Posted by Jersy | May 5, 2015, 5:17 am
  4. “As Ukraine advances on the difficult road to full democracy, we strongly urge the nation’s government to refrain from any measure that preempts or censors discussion or politicizes the study of history,” the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum said in a statement:

    Haaretz
    Ukraine to honor groups that killed Jews in World War II
    New law outlaws the display of Nazi and Communist symbols but another law requires that nationalist groups involved in the killings of Jews and Poles be honored.

    By Haaretz | May 21, 2015 | 6:17 AM

    New Ukrainian laws that came into effect over the past two months will outlaw the display of objects and names from the country’s communist past, while honoring groups that collaborated with the Nazis in the extermination of Ukrainian Jewry, Bloomberg reports.

    A law signed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last week bans all Soviet and Nazi symbols, including town and street names.

    It is expected to lead to the renaming such regional centers as Dnipropetrovsk (named after Grigory Petrovsky, who ran Ukraine in the 1920s and 1930s) and Kirovograd (bearing the name of Sergei Kirov, a Bolshevik leader allegedly killed by Stalin,) as well as dozens of other towns and hundreds of streets.

    Another bill, signed into law in April, prescribes that Ukrainians honor a number of World War II nationalist organizations, some of which – such as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) – fought alongside the Nazis.

    The law was protested by 40 historians from major Western universities in an open letter to Poroshenko and Ukrainian legislators.

    “Not only would it be a crime to question the legitimacy of an organization (UPA) that slaughtered tens of thousands of Poles in one of the most heinous acts of ethnic cleansing in the history of Ukraine,” the historians wrote, ” but also it would exempt from criticism the OUN, one of the most extreme political groups in Western Ukraine between the wars, and one which collaborated with Nazi Germany at the outset of the Soviet invasion in 1941.

    “It also took part in anti-Jewish pogroms in Ukraine and, in the case of the Melnyk faction, remained allied with the occupation regime throughout the war.”

    “As Ukraine advances on the difficult road to full democracy, we strongly urge the nation’s government to refrain from any measure that preempts or censors discussion or politicizes the study of history,” the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum said in a statement.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 21, 2015, 7:05 am

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