Ukraine's nationalists mark 75th anniversary of insurgent army

Kiev (AFP) –


Thousands of far-right activists gathered in the heart of Ukraine?s capital on Saturday to mark the 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), for them a model of nationalism and resistance.

They walked through the centre of Kiev, waving red and black flags, a symbol of the nationalist movement, and blue and yellow Ukrainian flags.

Some held portraits of Stepan Bandera, a leader of Ukraine's nationalists in 1930-40s, and shouted: "Bandera is our hero!" and "Glory to Ukraine!".

Bandera was the ideological leader of the UPA fighters who fought alongside invading German forces during World War II.

The famine of the 1930s that was created by Soviet collective farming had turned many Ukrainians against Moscow and in favour of any foreign presence that could help fend off Kremlin rule.

"Today we preach the struggle of UPA and take it as an example," Oleg Tyagnybok, the leader of the nationalist far-right party Svoboda, said at the beginning of the rally.

"They fought against the Moscow invaders, against the Polish, German, Madyar occupiers," he added.

"And we see that the current situation in Ukraine is pretty much the same."

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter feud since Moscow seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014.

Moscow was then accused of fueling a separatist conflict in two other eastern regions that has cost the lives of more than 10,000 people in over three years.

The far-right movement also recalled the fallen soldiers of the Ukrainian army who have lost their lives, as many of the activists have fought the pro-Russian insurgents in the east.

As night came on, activists lit flares and smoke bombs. Ukraine media put the turnout at between 10 and 15 thousand people.