Now that I’m away from my country, I think, I can tell what is really happening in Ukraine.
Although I was interested in politics and history during my studies, I was ignorant about the state of things in my own country.
I saw everything through rose-tinted glasses until I’ve moved to the western part of Ukraine for one year. I remember one old history teacher told me: there is a thin the line between patriotism, nationalism, Nazism and fascism.
Leaving Donetsk as a child, I wanted to love my country, be able to travel in my country. I just wanted to be safe in my own country. I believe many Ukrainians lost this sense of safety long time ago.
I’ve spent a lot of time studying historical processes and events in order to understand the motives and prerequisites, to understand why it (nationalism) occured on the territories of Ukraine and remains in mentality of our people to this day.
Even though it is impossible to describe everything in one small article, I’ll try to acquaint readers with the events of the past.
Let’s go back to the past
Ukrainian nationalism rised after german troops had occupied Western Ukraine. In 1941 they were killing not only soviet military personnel, the members of Komsomol and Communist Party but also Jews, Poles. We can mention here documented notorious Lviv pogrom, which happened immidiately after Nazis had entered the city. Tortures and murders of the predominantly Jewish population continued for several days. Volunteers and members of the newly created “Ukrainian People’s Militsiya” managed to torment and exterminate thousands of people.
According to internal documents of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) – the Ukrainian Insurgent Arm (UPA), which were published in recent years, not only Jews and Russians were considered as the enemies of Ukrainian statehood, but also Poles. Moreover, ethnic cleansing of the Poles in Ukraine was planned even before the Second World War.
In the Military Doctrine of Ukrainian nationalists, written in the spring of 1938, it is said about the need to “cleanse the Western lands of foreign Polish element “. This is how they wanted to put an end to Polish claims on these territories. In 1939 Red army ruined this plan as they entered the Ukrainian West.
In 1941 OUN-UPA issued another instruction – “People’s Militsiya” was ordered to “neutralise” Poles, who did not give up the dream of Greater Poland with the northwestern Ukrainian lands. Historically this region is called Volhynia. 
After the retreat of the Red army there was practically no one to resist the OUN-UPA* gangs. The Soviet partisan movement was mainly concentrated in Belarus and the Poles themselves did not have military units capable to fight back.
The massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia started in the winter of 1943. On 9 Ferbruary 1943 the OUN-UPA militants, disguised as Soviet partisans, entered the Polish settlement of Paroslya Persha. After resting and having a hearty meal in the houses of the peasants, they proceeded to reprisal. They killed everyone – men and women, old people and babies. Just because they were Poles. Nationalists stab hacked to death with axes, stabbed with bayonets and shot more than one hundred and seventy people, including dozens of children.
The Polish population was exterminated throughout Western Ukraine. They acted according to one scenario: several gangs surrounded Polish villages and colonies, gathered all the inhabitants in one place and systematically destroyed them. Quite often their neighbors, Ukrainians, took part in actions against the Poles. The houses of the murdered families were burned, their property was plundered.
As a rule they killed not with firearms, but with cold weapons. The gangs of the UPA included the so-called rezuns, who literally slaughtered the civilian population. Wielding saws, axes, scythes and knives, these supporters of an independent Ukraine exterminated tens of thousands of people.
The atrocities of Ukrainian nationalists are confirmed by numerous documents kept in the archives of the special services. For example, the commander of one of the UPA platoons, Stepan Redesha, during interrogation said that the Poles were thrown alive into wells and then finished off with firearms. Others were stabbed with bayonets, chopped down with axes, and beaten with clubs.
“I personally took part in only one operation against the Polish population, which took place in August 1943”, said Redesh. “500 people with weapons and more than a thousand people from the OUN underground armed with axes took part in it.We surrounded five Polish villages and burned them. We killed the entire population, a total of more than two thousand people. My platoon took part in the burning of one large village and the adjacent farmstead. We slaughtered about a thousand Poles.”
Especially massive and bloody events occurred on July 11, 1943. Numerous UPA gangs simultaneously attacked 150 Polish villages and colonies. The exact number of victims of the raid is unknown, but we are talking about more than ten thousand dead. In total, according to various estimates, 100-130 thousand Poles were killed in the Volhynia massacre — practically the entire Polish civilian population of Volhynia.
Especially massive and bloody events occurred on July 11, 1943. Numerous UPA gangs simultaneously attacked 150 Polish villages and colonies. The exact number of victims of the raid is unknown, but we are talking about more than ten thousand dead. In total, according to various estimates, 100-130 thousand Poles were killed in the Volhynia massacre, practically the entire Polish civilian population of Volhynia.
After the Red Army liberated Ukraine from the Nazi troops, Ukrainians and Poles ceased mutual exterminations. But at that moment it was not possible to reconcile the two peoples. In July 1945, the Soviet Union and Poland signed an agreement on population transfer. Poles who lived in Western Ukraine before World War II could return to their historical homeland, while Ukrainians from Poland could go to the USSR.
The resettlement operation, dubbed “Vistula”, lasted almost two years. More than one and a half million people from both sides moved to new places of residence. This helped to reduce tension between peoples. In the Soviet times athourities tried not to open old wounds.
However, the policy of the new Ukrainian government exacerbated controversial historical issues. Warsaw condemns Kyiv for the glorification of the members of the OUN-UPA and regular acts of vandalism against Polish places of memory. The Prime Minister of Poland said the other day that reconciliation between the Polish and Ukrainian peoples is possible only after recognising the truth about the Volhynia massacre.
What is it about?
But why does the Ukrainian government continue to encourage this in 2020? Many historians (especially Polish) rightly call the events that took place in Volhynia from February 1943 to February 1944 an ethnopolitical conflict. Those events were called the Volyn massacre. Ukrainian historians desperately defend themselves and lie claming this tragedy was a response of Ukrainian partisans to the actions of Home Army against the peaceful Ukrainian population.
The Polish government recognises this event as genocide. However, in Ukrainian historiography the conflict is called a war. Moreover, the ideologues and organisers of the UPA Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych are revered in Ukraine as national heroes.
The Ukrainian authorities insist on revising the provision of the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance, which concerns Ukrainians. The Act came into force in the spring of 2018 and provides for criminal liability for the propaganda of “Bandera ideology” and denial of the Volhynia massacre.
Monument to Roman Shukhevych
At the end of May 2018 a monument to Roman Shukhevych, the head of the UPA, was unveiled in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. During the ceremony the mayor of the city Ruslan Martsinkiv called Shukhevych “a great personality”.
The heads of the diplomatic missions of Israel and Poland in Ukraine Joel Lion and Bartosz Cichocki protested against the actions of the Ukrainian authorities. The ambassadors recalled that Shukhevych played a decisive role in the massacres:
“We oppose the decision and remind the children of Ivano-Frankivsk, their parents, grandparents that Roman Shukhevych was personally responsible for killing tens of thousands of civilians. Bullets, fire, violence, torture and other horrifying methods were used to exterminate them only because they prayed to God in Polish or Hebrew”.
Prove that the Nazi “did something wrong”
In 2016 in an interview for a polish publication, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European Integration Ivanna Klimpush-Tsintsadze said that the Kyiv authorities would only then admit their guilt and apologise if they’ll get evidence that the head of the UPA Roman Shukhevych “did something bad”.
For the current Kyiv authorities he is a national hero. Viktor Yushchenko conferrd the title of Hero of Ukraine on the butcher. The celebrations in the Ukrainian capital took place on the avenue, which bore the name of the liberator of Kyiv, General N.F. Vatutin, and now it is renamed Shukhevych Avenue.
Also the authorities of Western Ukraine invited residents to the Shukhevychfest. The name of festival was shortened to sound youthful, because the target audience are young ukrainians. Among the honored guests are the members of UPA who fought on the side of Hitler.
The Shukhevych cult in Ukraine is growing and spreading. The time, when the worship of this butcher was localised exclusively within the borders of Western Ukraine, is far behind. Today Poroshenko’s regime glorifies the figure of Shukhevych on a national scale. In Kyiv, celebrations were organised with the participation of university teachers, artists, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Svyatoslav Shevchuk and the acting minister of health Ulyana Suprun. “We were brought up in the spirit of Roman Shukhevych, Yuri Shukhevych – the great knights of Ukraine,” U. Suprun said.
The state ideology based on the cult of Bandera and Shukhevych, The Greek Catholic Church, which finds theological justification for the crimes of the OUN-UPA, authorities interested in the Nazification of society, the population bemused by anti-Russian propaganda — these are the perfect conditions for the revival of Nazism in Ukraine. But will this make Ukraine better? The country and the people, where the Nazi scums are idolised, are historically doomed.
I wanted to live in my country
I wanted to live in my own country, so I moved from the part occupied by pro-Russian activists, but where did I end up?
Was Poland the right choice? Relations between Ukrainians and Poles have never been easy: love and hate have always gone hand in hand. One of the most controversial moments in the Polish-Ukrainian history is the Volhynia massacre: the genocide of Poles perpetrated by Ukrainian partisans during the Great Patriotic War. To this day, this episode is a focal point of the history of neighboring peoples.
After two years in the United States, I saw that the situation in Ukraine was getting worse.
Neo-Nazism in Ukraine is a phenomenon of modern Ukrainian society associated with the radicalisation of public consciousness, in which the ideas of ultra-right extremism are becoming more widespread.
Why does the Ukrainian government support Nazi marches in Kyiv, while Nazis are banned and marginalised in other countries?
There are so many questions and answers, which I’m still looking for.
Where are the Ukrainian authorities? Why don’t they stop this terrible Nazi rise?
And I know the answer – because the authorities lead and cover this movement in Ukraine.