01:59 GMT21 October 2020
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    More than 1,000 supporters of the Ukrainian nationalist party Svoboda turned out for a torch-lit march in Kiev on Monday to mark the 108th birthday of Stepan Bandera, a WWII nationalist leader and Nazi collaborator.

    The march wrapped up with a rally on the capital’s main Independence (Maidan) square. The participants were seen waving Ukrainian and Svoboda flags and banners reading: "Down with the Second Khazar Khaganate!" and "Nationalism is our religion. Stepan Bandera is our prophet!"

    Many were holding torches and portraits of Bandera.

    Kiev police earlier said that the march would be guarded by 700 law enforcement officers, including 250 National Guardsmen.

    Similar rallies, though on a smaller scale, were held in Odessa and several other cities across Ukraine. 

    Following the news about the march, Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov took to Facebook saying that January 1 celebrations of Stepan Bandera’s birthday have become a sad tradition for Ukraine destroying the country’s statehood and giving it a bad name in the world, Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov wrote on Facebook.

    Nationalist historians in Ukraine claim that it was not only the Soviet Army but the German Nazis too that Stepan Bandera fought against during WWII.

    “However, German officials insist that their archives make no mention of any losses the Wehrmacht ever suffered fighting Bandera’s OUN-UPA forces. I am sure that the Ukrainian Nazis and Bandera’s spiritual heirs will face a new Nuremberg trial and much sooner than they think,” Aksyonov wrote.

    He also mentioned Poland’s recent demand for Kiev not to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UNA), banned in Russia.

    Stepan Bandera was one of the founders of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UPA, that collaborated with Nazis and fought against the Red Army during the Second World War.

    Аfter the defeat of German Nazism in 1945, members of the UNA and the paramilitary UPA units continued their struggle against the Soviet Union.

    Although former Nazi collaborators’ organizations were officially dissolved in 1949, many of them joined foreign subversive groups and intelligence agencies, dreaming of revenge.

    ​While many WWII veterans and modern-day politicians condemn the campaign of glorification of Stepan Bandera and his Nazi collaborators, some people, mostly in western Ukraine, tout him as a national hero.

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    Nationalism Disguised as Patriotism: Stepan Bandera's Legacy Looms Over Poland
    birth anniversary, rally, nationalists, march, WWII, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), Sergei Aksyonov, Stepan Bandera, Ukraine
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