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Tue Feb 25, 2014, 11:59 AM

 

Svoboda and the American right

15,000 Svoboda members held a torchlight ceremony in the city of Lviv in honor of Stepan Bandera, a World War II-era Nazi collaborator who led the pro-fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B). Lviv has become the epicenter of neo-fascist activity in Ukraine, with elected Svoboda officials waging a campaign to rename its airport after Bandera and successfully changing the name of Peace Street to the name of the Nachtigall Battalion, an OUN-B wing that participated directly in the Holocaust. “’Peace’ is a holdover from Soviet stereotypes,” a Svoboda deputy explained.

Revered by Ukrainian nationalists as a legendary freedom fighter, Bandera’s real record was ignominious at best. After participating in a campaign to assassinate Ukrainians who supported accommodation with the Polish during the 1930’s, Bandera’s forces set themselves to ethnically cleanse western Ukraine of Poles in 1943 and 1944. In the process, they killed over 90,000 Poles and many Jews, whom Bandera’s top deputy and acting “Prime Minister,” Yaroslav Stetsko, were determined to exterminate. Bandera held fast to fascist ideology in the years after the war, advocating a totalitarian, ethnically pure Europe while his affiliated Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) carried out a doomed armed struggle against the Soviet Union. The bloodbath he inspired ended when KGB agents assassinated him in Munich in 1959.

Many surviving OUN-B members fled to Western Europe and the United States – occasionally with CIA help – where they quietly forged political alliances with right-wing elements...In Washington, the OUN-B reconstituted under the banner of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), an umbrella organization comprised of “complete OUN-B fronts,” according to Bellant. By the mid-1980’s, the Reagan administration was honeycombed with UCCA members, with the group’s chairman Lev Dobriansky, serving as ambassador to the Bahamas, and his daughter, Paula, sitting on the National Security Council. Reagan personally welcomed Stetsko, the Banderist leader who oversaw the massacre of 7000 Jews in Lviv, into the White House in 1983.

“Your struggle is our struggle,” Reagan told the former Nazi collaborator. “Your dream is our dream.”

When the Justice Department launched a crusade to capture and prosecute Nazi war criminals in 1985, UCCA snapped into action, lobbying Congress to halt the initiative. “The UCCA has also played a leading role in opposing federal investigations of suspected Nazi war criminals since those queries got underway in the late 1970’s,” Bellant wrote....

Back in Ukraine in 2010, then-President Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the title of “National Hero of Ukraine,” marking the culmination of his efforts to manufacture an anti-Russian national narrative that sanitized the OUN-B’s fascism. (Yuschenko’s wife, Katherine Chumachenko, was a former Reagan administration official and ex-staffer at the right-wing Heritage Foundation). When the European Parliament condemned Yushchenko’s proclamation as an affront to “European values,” the UCCA-affiliated Ukrainian World Congress reacted with outrage, accusing the EU of “another attempt to rewrite Ukrainian history during WWII.” On its website, the UCCA dismissed historical accounts of Bandera’s collaboration with the Nazis as “Soviet propaganda.”

Following the demise of Yanukovich this month, the UCCA helped organize rallies in cities across the US in support of the EuroMaidan protests. When several hundred demonstrators marched through downtown Chicago, some waved Ukrainian flags while others proudly flew the red and black banners of the UPA and OUN-B. “USA supports Ukraine!” they chanted.

http://www.salon.com/2014/02/25/is_the_us_backing_neo_nazis_in_ukraine_partner/

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