Posts Tagged ‘Stepan Bandera’

BANDERA’S SPIRIT

January 1, 2017

torch-paradeToday is Stepan Bandera’s birthday. A Ukrainian nationalist, he is both much-loved and much-hated. Loved by those who want to see the resurrection of Ukraine as a nation, and hated by those who deny the right of Ukraine to exist.

Bandera was born 108 years ago Western Ukraine and assassinated by a KGB agent 58 years ago in West Germany. At different times the Ukrainians struggling for their independence (and, consequently, for the rights to know their history, to develop their culture, to speak their language, to have their own church) were named after their national leaders: “vyhovtsi” (after Ivan Vyhovskyi, in the 17th century), “mazepyntsi” (after Ivan Mazepa in the 18th century), “makhnovtsi” and “petliurivtsi” (after Nestor Makhno and Symon Petliura, in the 1920s). Since the 1940s the name has been “banderivtsi.” Interestingly, though the name, as it was coined in KGB offices, was meant to be pejorative, it is now used by ardent adherents of the Ukrainian cause with much pride, which reminds me of how the term “Christian” was used: originally the name was negative in ancient Rome, but later, with the spread of Christianity, the meaning turned to be positive, or, as linguists say, “elevated.”

However, in the popular Russian usage the word “banderovets” (it may be roughly translated into English as “Banderavite”) has extended its meaning and is generally referred to everyone who advocates their Ukrainian identity. A Ukrainian who is nothing but an immigrant worker in Moscow, goes as “khokhol” among Muscovites, but the one who emphasizes his Ukrainian background, and is principled, say, in using the Ukrainian language in the Russian surroundings will sooner be called “banderovets.”

It has become a recent tradition that annually, on January 1, young nationalists arrange torchlit processions in Kyiv and other major cities of Ukraine to honor Stepan Bandera. The Russian media do their utmost to demonize such manifestations. The same is done by some of the Western media which view the events in Ukraine through Russian eyes. “The man in the street” and the pro-Russian sympathizers are scared. I’m not. In their majority, the Ukrainians are fairly tolerant, and there’s absolutely no danger that they may fall into political or any other kind of zealotry. Sooner, the opposite may take place: Ukraine gained its independence rather late, and it may be swallowed and digested by such monsters as globalization, liberal thinking, political correctness, etc. The torchlit demonstrations are an antidote against this threat. Without the “Bandera spirit,” Ukraine would have long ago dissolved in the swamp of incurable Russian ills –servility, lawlessness, isolationism, xenophobia, chauvinism, laziness and aggressiveness.

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JANUARY 1, UKRAINIAN PATRIOTISM, NATIONALISM AND STEPAN BANDERA.

January 1, 2015

2015-01-01A most significant political result of 2014 for Ukraine was the grown national maturity of the people. Thanks to Mr. Putin, more and more people here started to identify with this country and with its (hopefully) European future as opposed to what had been prepared for them by the ex-President Yanukovych and his Kremlin patron. I am even glad for the people of Donbas and Crimea to have separated from Ukraine: let them stay where they are and carry on loving Father Putin as long as they do not attempt to encroach on my land. And, as millions of Ukrainians, I am thankful to those people and governments all over the world who, by their decent and sober stand, managed to bring Putin to his senses – at least for the time being.

In Soviet times it was not officially forbidden to “love” Ukraine. The Party allowed you to sing about how wide the Dnieper was (but at the same time it was advised to remember that the river flew through the territory of two other “fraternal” republics – Russia and Byelorussia). You could say proudly that Kyiv (the Russian spelling “Kiev”) was the heart of Ukraine, but only by adding that the city was the “brother of the great Moscow.” You might speak about the rich black soils of the country — only you had to always add that the fields were cultivated by the “collective farmers.”

Regarding their national sentiments, the Soviets were split into patriots and nationalists. If a person was a patriot, it automatically meant that he was a patriot of the Soviet Union: the phrase “a patriot of Ukraine” was oxymoronic – very much like “hot snow” or the “black sun.” If, in some way, the person demonstrated his being a Ukrainian, he was on the Party’s radar screen. When I was being interviewed for my first job in the 1970s, the Party secretary asked me about my family. I told him that a son had been born into our family and added that the son’s name was Bogdan.  A couple of weeks after I was employed, the same Party secretary suggested that I should prepare a report at our university’s political seminar about how the Communist Party had solved the national problem in the multinational USSR. I guessed why the secretary told me to come up with that theme: the name Bogdan was a genuine Ukrainian name and was associated with Bogdan (Bohdan) Kmelnytskyi, the 17th-century national hero of Ukraine.

If you insisted on your “Ukrainianism”, you could be categorized as a “bourgeois nationalist.” In this view I would like to make a line of division between a great-power nationalism, which I call “chauvinism”, and the nationalism of an oppressed nation, which is for me equivalent to “patriotism” or, in simpler terms, to the love of one’s own country, to a wish to see one’s country independent and just, free and prosperous, godly and civilized. That love and wish were the driving force for the activities of Yevhen Konovalets, Andriy Melnyk and Stepan Bandera before and during WWII. The Soviet Union left no unturned stone to discredit their names and the ideas of Ukrainian nationalism. For one, Stepan Bandera was accused of collaborating with Hitler during the Holocaust. It was just the other way round: Bandera got imprisoned by the German fascists, while lots of Jews were fighting alongside with the Banderovites against the German fascists – just as seventy years later they were fighting against the Putin-backed Yanukovych. This time they even got a proud name: Judo-Banderovites. Incidentally, I always advise my compatriots to learn from the Jewish people how to love one’s native country and how to build it. And also to how to be nationalists — with the first book of Jewish nationalism being the Old Testament itself.

During the latest parliamentary elections in Ukraine the whole of the Obolon disctrict in Kyiv where I live was flooded with leaflets and billboards promoting the candidacy of a local money-bag. However, the victory was gained by a person who was a Maidan activist and a participant in the ongoing war with Russia. I am happy to post his leaflet – I also voted for him.

And one finishing touch: today is Stepan Bandera’s birthday. Actually, that was the reason why I thought of writing this blog.


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