Hundreds of Ukrainians march in honor of the controversial nationalist leader

To mark the birthday of the controversial nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, hundreds of Ukrainians held a torchlight march in the capital, Kiev.

January 1st March came amid a buildup of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine that some believe may mark the start of an invasion.

“Today, when there is war with the occupiers at the front and the fight against the ‘fifth column’ in the rear continues, we remember and honor the memory of Stepan Bandera,” Andriy Tarasenko, leader of the nationalist party Right Sector, said.

Bandera is revered as a hero by many Ukrainians for leading the political wing of the anti-Soviet independence movement, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Its military wing – the Ukrainian Insurgent Army – waged partisan warfare during and after World War II.

But Bandera, who was killed by a Soviet assassin in Munich in 1959, is viewed by others as a traitor for waging an insurgent war against the Soviet armed forces and collaborating with Nazi Germany. His troops fought against the Nazis at times during the war and are accused of having carried out murderous campaigns against Poles and Jews.

Similar marches took place in several other cities, including Lviv, where around 500 people gathered in front of Bandera’s monument to honor him.

With coverage from AP

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