Every time “conscious” Ukrainians bring up the existence of an army
that fought German Nazis then turned its guns on Stalin’s NKVD forces
in a futile struggle to gain Ukrainian statehood, their efforts to gain
recognition get drowned out in the hollow rhetorical trope spewed by
people who have a phobia towards anything for which the Ukrainian
Insurgent Army (UPA) stood.
Oct. 14 was the first time UPA supporters were denied a permit to rally
in Kyiv to commemorate the anniversary when that army’s first
detachment formed in 1942 in the marshlands of Volyn Oblast.
Yet a group of people bent on denying their nation’s history, who
refuse to conduct a balanced examination of UPA's historic role, one
that the Soviet propaganda machine and certain politicians and
government officials today continue to blacken, contort and
misconstrue, was given permission to stage an “Anti-Fascist” rally in
the heart of Kyiv on Independence Square.
UPA wasn’t formed in one day, it was a process like anything in
history. Its activities encompassed all of today’s Ukrainian territory
and their numbers reached 100,000. It pitched open battles and
conducted hit-and-run ambushes as far as Zhytomyr and Vinnytsia Oblasts
and had cells in every oblast to disseminate pro-Ukrainian statehood
literature and recruit people to its ranks.
Its leader, Roman Shukhevych, even visited Kyiv to inspect secret UPA
cells on his way back to war ravaged western Ukraine from his second
trip (!) to Odesa where he sought treatment for rheumatism using a fake
teacher’s identity card and forged passport at a time when he was the
most wanted man in the U.S.S.R. The passport, get this, had
Shukhevych’s actual picture in it.
Russians, Jews, Armenians, Tartars, as well as other ethnicities served
It conducted three “raids” through central Europe to reach occupied
Germany after WWII to tell the world of their plight, that the
unvanquished freedom fighters were still at war in Western Ukraine
against NKVD secret police troops for a free Ukraine.
Their message didn’t fall on deaf ears. The CIA and Britain’s MI6
drafted plans to drop weapons and other supplies to UPA soldiers but
their operation was foiled by British traitor Kim Philby.
Members of the of nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) movement rally in
Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 14. Nationalists and supporters of
Ukrainian partisans rallied to receive official recognition as World
War II veterans. The partisans from the Ukrainian Insurgent Army fought
against both Nazis and Red Army soldiers during World War II in a bid
to create an independent Ukraine and they celebrate UIA's 68th
anniversary today(Yaroslav Debelyi).
Almost twenty years has gone by since UPA achieved its much delayed
victory, that of an independent Ukrainian nation.
But instead of forming peace and reconciliation commissions, instead of
bringing together historians from within and outside Ukraine to put the
actions of UPA and Soviet forces in historical perspective with the
goal of coming to terms with its troubled and bloody WWII past, Ukraine
has a mythic Victory Day, celebrated on May 9.
Victory over whom or what…over Nazi Germany? It was a world war. And
war is ugly.
Why not a memorial day to commemorate all the victims of that horrific
war and the sacrifices made by all its combatants: civilian, Soviet and
UPA soldiers, the Red Partisans, alike?
That’s a how a nation is built, by confronting its past soberly, not by
turning a blind eye to it.
War is still being waged.
The education ministry has recently taken out the heroic feats and
UPA’s role from school text books. Ukraine’s SBU intelligence agency
has again locked up and sealed access to Soviet-era archives. There’s
talk in parliament to resurrect the October Revolution holiday. An UPA
researcher was recently detained by the SBU. Ukrainophobe
parliamentarians are pushing to give the Russian language “official”
language status in a bastardized attempt to skew the intention and
principled wording of European Union minority language policy.
Some wars never end.
I sincerely hope that peace and reconciliation can be found, and UPA’s
role be put in a proper historic perspective.
Kyiv Post staff writer Mark Rachkevych can be reached at