So I was reading this article about the ban on Communist parties in Ukrainian elections and something caught my eye. First of all, I think any long-time reader knows how I feel about Ukraine’s so-called “Decommunization laws.” They were drafted and pushed through by people with their own agenda and they are a dark spot on Ukraine’s striving towards some form of functional democracy. That being said, when it comes to corrupt, phony “Communist” parties like the KPU(Communist Party of Ukraine), I couldn’t care less.

This isn’t the part of the article that bothered me, however. It’s actually this:

Ukraine applies the same treatment to the Nazi regime, which occupied and controlled much of Ukrainian territory during World War II before being driven out by Soviet forces.

Also in April, Ukrainian lawmakers adopted a law that defined the legal status and honored the memory of participants in the struggle for Ukraine’s independence in the 20th century, including groups that fought against Nazi Germany and Soviet authorities.

Here the author takes the law at face value, buying into the myth that this is a balanced law aimed at two “totalitarian” regimes. Apart from the fact that no, the two regimes are not morally equal, and the United States and United Kingdom apparently agreed, this ban on Nazi symbols deliberately skirts the fact that Ukraine’s far right generally doesn’t use those symbols, nor do they claim to be followers of German national socialism. More importantly the law doesn’t ban the symbols and ideology of collaborators, whom the far right in Ukraine hold as heroes. So no, it isn’t balanced because you can run around praising collaborators while the Red Army is condemned as part of an “occupation.” Nationalists on the other hand are protected from criticism.

That brings us to the second point- the law does not only “honor” the memory of those participants, it criminalizes anything negative said about them. This ignores the fact, for example, that pretty much every Ukrainian fighter for independence in the 20th century, at some point in their career, compromised the independence of Ukraine in one way or another. But I’ll ignore that because there’s a bigger point here, and that’s the sentence about “groups that fought against Nazi Germany and Soviet authorities.”

This is the old UPA “against Stalin and Hitler” myth. Funny how the Germans, so well-known for their meticulous record-keeping during the war, neglected to record this history of fierce resistance from the Ukrainian Insurgent Army(UPA). What we do know, however, is that Bandera ordered his men in Ukraine to repair relations with the Germans in spite of his arrest, that the UPA was legalized by the Germans in 1943, and then Bandera himself was released and resumed collaboration in 1944. What is more, there is simply no evidence of any significant battles or engagements between the UPA and German occupying forces, for obvious reasons. Even when they weren’t legal, the Germans saw the OUN-B linked UPA as merely “bandits.” In fact, from my research it seems they engaged in very little combat against their main enemies, the Red Army, as well. The UPA under Bandera’s men seems to have been most lethal against unarmed Polish civilians and Ukrainians that didn’t go along with their movement, AKA most Ukrainians.

I’ve said it plenty of times before. These laws aren’t about real history. They’re about creating a myth and forcing down everyone’s throat, something which has become an increasingly noticeable feature of Putin’s Russia.

Get it together, RFERL.

5 thoughts on “GOTCHA!

  1. Strykr9

    I felt angry when I heard about the law but then i remembered how obnoxious Communists are to liberal socialists and progressives like me. Seriously, if you dont go full Mao Zedong with these guys you’re automatically “a puppet of the bourgeoisie”. Still, they are at least better than the far right. Ukraine should have started a clampdown on far right parties first.

      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I mean they have no actual line or belief at all. I remember one of the last times I was back in Kyiv, in 2010, where I read that the Communists were supporting some kind of extension of an agreement with Cyprus. Everyone knew that this was connected with money-laundering and offshore hoarding. Strange move for a “Communist” party, right?

        I actually see a silver-lining in this anti-Communist law because it will put an end to corrupt, phony parties using the name and symbols and further dragging them through the mud. Any Communist party that exists in Ukraine now will have to be the real deal.

  2. Jim Kovpak Post author

    I wrote this while sobering up from low-quality beer and that awful cocktail called “Russia Today”(see Twitter), therefore there’s one instructive point I left out- Team Kremlin fans will use this as an example of how “The West” deliberately covers up right-wing extremism in Ukraine (ironically many of these critics are themselves right-wing extremists).

    In truth, ignorance is the main culprit here, and this is something that Ukrainian nationalists have been able to bank on for literally decades. Few outside of the former Soviet Union and the diaspora know anything about the OUN, UPA, and affiliated organizations. It’s an incredibly obscure topic. So that’s why diaspora and nationalist “historians” have been so effective at peddling myths such as the idea that the UPA was this liberal democratic organization that protected Jews and fought the Nazis and Red Army equally.


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