One other thing that should be cleared re: anti-communist laws is that small thing about the ‘glorifying UPA’ law. Of note is that it doesn’t actually only glorify UPA, but rather more generalized ‘fighters for Ukraine’s independence’, but nobody cares about that, much less I. On the other hand, if SS-Galizien were to be included in the draft law, I’d stop having doubts about the mental facilities of certain Rada deputies and just call them fucking morons.
History hasn’t been kind to the UPA, but they kind of have no one but themselves to blame. I wouldn’t think smear campaigns to be above the Soviet government, but the Soviet government didn’t force the UPA to throw their chips in with the Nazis and, thus, doom Ukraine once again. UPA and their reasons is a complicated subject, a subject I’m not sure I want to venture into, seeing as I’m no historian; and, anyway, there is something else, namely Ukraine’s apparent ‘rejection’ of its Soviet heritage, particularly re: World War II.
V-Day wasn’t so long ago and my memory’s still pretty good, so I can pretty much recall the Ukrainian government’s official line. The official line is basically thus: since Putin’s been saying how Russia could’ve won WWII on its own and since most Russians flat-out deny anyone but Russians fought in WWII, much less Ukrainians, it must be stated and overstated that Ukrainians DID fight in WWII, more specifically as part of:
– USSR’s Red Army;
– Allied forces (this includes the Second Polish Republic);
– you guessed it, UPA.
The list would be more fair if it also included Ukrainians who fought for the Axis, but alas, that seems out of place. The following are just several examples illustrating Ukraine’s official line about WWII. Images are courtesy Ukrainian Crisis Media Center (these people are fantastic and your go-to source for Ukraine-related info) and Ukrainian’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Twitter:
I’d say the Soviet part greatly outnumbers the UPA one. It’s not everyone they dug up, but at least Nicholas Minue was indeed a Ukrainian American. Not so much for Michael Strank, of the Raising the Flag over Iwo Jima fame: I distinctly remember some info or other saying he was a Ukrainian, while in reality Strank was of Slovakian Lemko ethnicity. Lemkos are technically a Ukrainian subethnicity, closely related to Carpathian Rusyns (Ruthenians), but the problem is most Slovakian Lemkos consider themselves Slovakians, not Ukrainians. They also found out the Soviet representative at the Japanese surrender, General Kuzma Derevyanko, who’s pretty clearly Ukrainian, let’s give him that. I’m not sure Russian media, in their GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR fervour, mention him at all. This is actually demeaning how they ignore USSR’s contribution to Japan’s defeat, really. My grandmother was living outside Vladivostok at that time and she distinctly remembers Soviet soldiers on the march to Manchuria, but no, no mention. World War II, outside of its Eastern theater, pretty much doesn’t exist for Putin and his loyal Russian public, and so doesn’t General Derevyanko.
Again, these are only those infos I could readily find; in others, their authors found Ukrainians serving in the French Army (and the Free French), of all places. I can’t confirm it now, but for me, it smells of bullshit and homeland of elephants. More to the point, I can’t remember much about the UPA men. UCMC found some guy, as is written on the first picture, some guy whom no one heard about before. Neither Bandera nor Shukhevych are mentioned. Again, pretty weak for actively glorifying Nazi collaborators; at best, UPA gets a token mention here. It’s probably not too different in reality: few WWII veterans are alive now. Most of those who are are now well over 90. These are Soviet veterans; there are probably even fewer UPA veterans now. I’d also say most of them live in Canada now, but I probably would be bullshitting you if I did.
Conclusion follows. While Ukrainian government certainly took a more proactive approach at celebrating V-Day (as opposed to when we happily copied whatever the Russians were saying or doing), if this is an attempt at glorifying UPA, or glorifying UPA at the expense of Ukraine’s Soviet legacy, it’s a pretty weak one. Again, criticism here would be ‘not hard enough’, if Ukraine’s innumerable Internet patriots were capable of coherent thought.
Look on the bright side, though: the way things are going, in a few years Ukrainians will forget October 14 is UPA day. Or, rather, was UPA day. They’ll be too busy buying Fatherland Defender Day presents to think otherwise.
Ukraine’s torch parade day is on another day anyway.
P.S. I’m still waiting to see if Ukrainian government is going to commemorate the Potemkin uprising this June.