The Nazi influence on modern-day Ukrainian politics is clear, tangible, and willfully ignored by its Western supporters
A symbol of Azov volunteer battalion is tattooed on a battalion officer’s neck as he talks to his soldiers in Kiev, Ukraine. The battalion’s symbol is reminiscent of the Nazi Wolfsangel. © AP / Efrem Lukatsky
A cursory look at the documents regarding the foundation of the Ukrainian state would make it appear quite European and democratic, which is exactly the reason why many might have dismissed Vladimir Putin’s talk about neo-Nazis in Ukraine as rhetoric and propaganda. The truth, however, is much more complicated and cannot be summarized by saying “Ukrainian president is Jewish, and thus all allegations are untrue”.
Tell me who your heroes are, and I will tell you who you are
One historical figure who has emerged as a hero in post-Maidan Ukraine is Stepan Bandera, a leader and ideologist of the militant wing of the far-right Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Today, there are streets named after him, people sing songs in his honor and carry his portrait.
Born in Galicia (at the time part of Austria-Hungary) on January 1, 1909, Stepan Bandera was tried on terrorism charges in Poland on multiple occasions. In 1934, he was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He served his sentence until 1939, when he was released following the German invasion of Poland.