For what is probably the first time ever, Poland and Russia are on agreement about something. And what did it take for this unprecedented event to take place? Nothing less than an attempt by Ukraine to recognize the legitimacy of certain neo-Nazi groups in WWII-era Ukraine. From the International Business Times:
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko was greeted by a group of pro-Russian Ukrainians chanting “Murderer!” and “No to fascism!” in Odessa Friday, a day after his bloc in parliament passed a bill recognizing controversial World War II-era partisan groups as so-called freedom fighters, according to the TASS Russia News Agency. The groups are revered by some in Ukraine because they defended ethnic Ukrainians in the chaos of World War II, but many pro-Russian Ukrainians consider them terrorists who willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany to fight the Soviet Union.
The bill would recognize groups such as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and Stepan Bandera’s so-called Banderite as legitimate combatants in World War II and as freedom fighters who fought for Ukrainian independence. Some of those partisan groups are believed to have participated in the ethnic cleansing of Poles in Ukraine, as well as the carrying out of bombings and kidnappings against the country’s postwar Soviet government. If the bill were to become law, it would grant veterans of these groups social benefits and make them eligible for state awards. It would also make it illegal to deny the legitimacy of their actions, according to UAPosition, a Ukraine-centered media site.
Ukraine’s current nationalist elements such as the Right Sector strongly identify with Bandera and his fellow partisans, who they say laid the foundation for Ukrainian nationalism. While most far-right Ukrainain groups are fragmented and remain largely on the fringe of Ukrainian politics, the Right Sector was visible in the Euromaidan movement, and it participated in a handful of volunteer paramilitary brigades that played decisive roles in Ukraine’s fight against pro-Russian separatists in southeastern Ukraine during the past year. Critics of the Euromaidan movement alleged the nationalist presence was indicative of the fascist, anti-Russian principles of the movement and the pro-European government that came into power as a result of it.
What the article doesn’t say—disingenuously, in my opinion—is that Russian politicians aren’t the only ones up in arms about this: some Polish members of parliament are, too. This article from Rossiskaya Gazeta (that literally means “Russian Newspaper”). Politicians from the opposition group “Union of democratic leftist forces” have called for the Polish foreign ministry to officially say something about this law.
And thus, for perhaps the first time ever, Russian politicians, Polish politicians, and I, your humble correspondent, are all in agreement.
Honestly, I think it’s kind of scary that this stuff is debatable here in the West. I’ve read some articles that actually defend the groups that the Ukrainian parties are trying to rehabilitate. Bandera’s forces and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, were, in my opinion, a bunch of nasty collaborators that don’t deserve any of this recognition.
Here’s another interesting idea: ever since this “revolution” took place in Ukraine, people have been telling me, both online and offline, that the far-right elements don’t actually hold sway over many people and aren’t a major player on the political field. I don’t mind considering this idea—I’m open-minded. But when I see stuff like this, I can’t help but think that it looks a lot more like my original thoughts were accurate. Just saying.