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UKRAINE marked the birthday of nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera today as a national holiday for the first time.
The parliament voted that January 1 would be officially recognised for the leader of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which fought alongside the nazis against the Red Army in the second world war and whose quest for an “ethnically pure” Ukraine saw it participate in the Holocaust, murdering tens of thousands of Jews and Poles.
Though Bandera demanded the “destruction” of Jews, Poles, “Moskali” — as he termed Russians in Ukraine — and Hungarians and the OUN’s programme pledged to “combat the Jews as the prop of the Muscovite-Bolshevik regime,” Kiev now states he was “an outstanding figure and theorist of the Ukrainian national liberation movement.”
Schools and universities have been instructed to hold classes on Bandera while the Ministry of Culture was told to stage exhibitions about him. Commemorative coins and stamps in the fascist’s honour have been commissioned.
The city of Lviv, where Bandera was born, has declared 2019 a year in his honour, prompting US academic Tarik Youssef Cyril Amar, who formerly directed the Centre for Urban History in the city, to return a civic honour bestowed on him there in protest.
“I do not need rewards from a city that praises Stepan Bandera, a fascist,” he declared.
Since 2016 Ukraine has made the anniversary of the death of Symon Petliura, a far-right separatist leader who headed an anti-Bolshevik government in Ukraine during the Russian civil war, a holiday in his honour, despite his regime having sponsored pogroms that killed around 50,000 Jews.
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