Several thousand people gathered in the center of Kiev on Sunday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the creation of the WWII-era Ukrainian Insurgent Army that fought against the Soviet Red Army and Nazis, local police reported.
The organizers of the rally at the monument to the famous Ukrainian poet and writer Taras Shevchenko said more than 10,000 people were attending the gathering.
The rally participants, mainly activists of the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party, are holding party flags. Many demonstrators have portraits of nationalist leaders Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych.
After the gathering, the demonstrators intend to march along the city’s center.
The annual march for the recognition of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) on October 14 has become a tradition and is recognized as the day of its foundation.
Before, during and after WWII, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and its militant wing, the UPA, fought for Ukrainian independence first from Poland and then from Nazi Germany after it became apparent that Germany had no plans of giving the Ukrainians sovereignty. However, later the organization rejoined German efforts to fight against a common enemy, the Soviet Union.
Ukrainian society is deeply divided over the wartime role of the country's nationalists, namely the UPA. One part, mostly residents of the eastern regions bordering Russia, believe UPA fighters were traitors who killed Soviet soldiers, while another, mainly residents of western Ukraine, regard them as patriots who fought for an independent Ukraine.