Stepan Bandera

Stepan Andriyovych Bandera (Ukrainian: Степа́н Андрі́йович Банде́ра, romanizedStepán Andríyovyč Bandéra, IPA: [steˈpɑn ɐnˈd⁽ʲ⁾r⁽ʲ⁾ijoʋɪt͡ʃ bɐnˈdɛrɐ]; Polish: Stepan Andrijowycz Bandera; 1 January 1909 – 15 October 1959) was an Ukrainian nationalist leader, politician and theorist of the militant wing (OUN-B), served as head of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists,[1][2] organization responsible for massacres and ethnic cleansings, also implicated in collaboration with Nazi Germany.[1][3]

Stepan Bandera
Степан Бандера
Personal details
Stepan Andriyovych Bandera

1 January 1909
Staryi Uhryniv, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Ukraine)
Died15 October 1959(1959-10-15) (aged 50)
Munich, West Germany
Cause of deathExtrajudicially executed by the KGB
Spouse(s)Yaroslava Bandera [uk]
RelationsVasyl Bandera [uk] (brother)
Alma materLviv Polytechnic
AwardsHero of Ukraine (annulled)
Military service
Allegiance OUN (1929–1940)
OUN-B (1940–1959)
Branch/service UPA (1942–1956)
Battles/warsWorld War II

Born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in the economically backward Galicia (officially Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, created after the first partition of Poland) into the family of a priest of Eastern Catholic Church.[4] After the Empire disintegrated in the wake of World War I, Galicia briefly became a West Ukrainian People's Republic; following the Polish–Ukrainian War of 1918–1919, it was again integrated into eastern Poland. In this period, Bandera became radicalized. He enrolled at the Lviv Polytechnic, where he organized Ukrainian nationalist organizations. For orchestrating the 1934 assassination of Poland's Minister of the Interior Bronisław Pieracki, Bandera was sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. In September 1939, as a result of the invasion of Poland, he was freed from Bereza Kartuska prison, and moved to Kraków, in the German-occupied zone, where he maintained close connections with Abwehr and Wehrmacht.[5][6]

For a time, Bandera collaborated with Nazi Germany. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, he prepared the 30 June 1941 Proclamation of Ukrainian statehood in Lviv, pledging to work with Nazi Germany.[7][5] For his refusal to rescind the decree, Bandera was arrested by the Gestapo and on 5 July 1941 held under house arrest.[8] After January 1942 Bandera was transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp but kept in special, comparatively comfortable detention.[9][10][11] In 1944, with Germany rapidly losing ground in the war in the face of the advancing Allied armies, Bandera was released in the hope that he would be instrumental in deterring the advancing Soviet forces. He set up the headquarters of the re-established Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council, which worked underground. After the war, Bandera with his family settled in West Germany where he remained the leader of the OUN-B and worked with several anti-communist organizations such as the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations[12] as well as with the US and British intelligence agencies.[12][4] Fourteen years after the end of the war, Bandera was assassinated in 1959 by KGB agents in Munich, West Germany.[13][14]

On 22 January 2010, the President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the posthumous title of Hero of Ukraine.[15] The European Parliament condemned the award, as did Russia, Poland and Jewish politicians and organizations.[16][17][18][19][20] President Viktor Yanukovych declared the award illegal, since Bandera was never a citizen of Ukraine, a stipulation necessary for getting the award. This announcement was confirmed by a court decision in April 2010.[21] In January 2011, the award was officially annulled.[22][23] A proposal to confer the award on Bandera was rejected by the Ukrainian parliament in August 2019.[24]

Bandera remains a highly controversial figure in Ukraine,[25][26][27] with some Ukrainians hailing him as a role model hero,[28] liberator who fought against the Soviet Union, Poland and Nazi Germany trying to establish an independent Ukraine, while other Ukrainians condemn him as a fascist[29] and a war criminal[29] who was, together with his followers, largely responsible for the massacres of Polish civilians[30] and partially for the Holocaust in Ukraine.[31][32][33][34]

Early life

Young Stepan Bandera in the Plast uniform, 1923

Bandera was born on 1 January 1909 in Staryi Uhryniv, Galicia, Austria-Hungary to Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church priest Andriy Bandera (1882–1941) and Myroslava (1890–1921) who died of tuberculosis when Bandera was still a child. He did not attend a primary school due to the WWI and was taught at home by his parents. Young Bandera also sang in a choir, played guitar, mandolin, enjoyed hiking, jogging, swimming, ice skating, and basketball. After graduation from a Ukrainian high school in 1927, where he was engaged in a number of youth organizations, Bandera planned to attend the Husbandry Academy in Czechoslovakia, but he either did not get a passport or the Academy notified him that it was closed. In 1928, Bandera enrolled in the agronomy program at the Politechnika Lwowska in Lwów but never completed his studies due to his political activities and arrests.[4]

Pre-World War II activity

Early activities

Stepan Bandera in Cossack uniform

Stepan Bandera had met and associated himself with members of a variety of Ukrainian nationalist organizations throughout his schooling—from Plast, to the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Українська Визвольна Організація) and also the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) (Ukrainian: Організація Українських Націоналістів). The most active of these organizations was the OUN, and the leader of the OUN was Andriy Melnyk.[citation needed]

Stepan Bandera quickly rose through the ranks of these organizations, becoming the chief propaganda officer of the OUN in 1931, the second in command of OUN in Galicia in 1932–1933, and the head of the National Executive of the OUN in 1933. In the early 1930s, Bandera was very active in finding and developing groups of Ukrainian nationalists in both Western and Eastern Ukraine.[citation needed]


General Council of the Red Viburnum Detachment at the Academic House in Lwów. Stepan Bandera, standing fourth from the left. October 21, 1928.

Bandera joined OUN in 1929, quickly climbed through the ranks and became head of the OUN national executive in Galicia in June 1933.[4] He expanded the OUN's network in the Kresy, directing it against both Poland and the Soviet Union. To stop expropriations, Bandera turned OUN against the Polish officials who were directly responsible for anti-Ukrainian policies. Activities included mass campaigns against Polish tobacco and alcohol monopolies and against the denationalization of Ukrainian youth. He was arrested in Lviv in 1934, and tried twice: first, concerning involvement in a plot to assassinate the minister of internal affairs, Bronisław Pieracki, and second at a general trial of OUN executives. He was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to

Decree for Wołyń Voivodeship on language establishing Polish as the official language in accordance with the 1921 Treaty of Riga ending the Polish–Soviet War in which the frontiers between Poland and the Soviet Russia had been defined. Written in Ukrainian.

death. The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.[4]

According to various sources, Bandera was freed on September 13, 1939, either by Ukrainian jailers after Polish jail administration left the jail,[35] by Poles[36] or by the Nazis soon after the German invasion of Poland.[37][38][39][4]

Soon thereafter Eastern Poland was occupied by the Soviet Union. Upon release from prison, Bandera moved to Kraków, the capital of Germany's occupational General Government. There, he came in contact with the leader of the OUN, Andriy Atanasovych Melnyk. In 1940, the political differences between the two leaders caused the OUN to split into two factions that argued which one was legitimate.[40] The OUN-M faction led by Melnyk preached a more conservative approach to nation-building, while the OUN-B faction, led by Bandera, supported a revolutionary approach.[41]

Formation of Mobile Groups

Before the independence proclamation of 30 June 1941, Bandera oversaw the formation of so-called "Mobile Groups" (Ukrainian: мобільні групи) which were small (5–15 members) groups of OUN-B members who would travel from General Government to Western Ukraine and, after a German advance to Eastern Ukraine, encourage support for the OUN-B and establish local authorities run by OUN-B activists.[42]

In total, approximately 7,000 people participated in these mobile groups, and they found followers among a wide circle of intellectuals, such as Ivan Bahriany, Vasyl Barka, Hryhorii Vashchenko and many others.[citation needed]

Formation of the UPA

World War II

Banners welcoming the German troops posted by local Ukrainians instructed by OUN-B read: "Heil Hitler! Glory to Hitler! Glory to Bandera! Long live the Ukrainian Independent State! Long live the Vozhd’ (leader) Stepan Bandera" - Żółkiew (today Zhovka) German occupied Poland, July–August 1941.[4]

Prior to 1939 invasion of Poland, German military intelligence recruited OUN members into Bergbauernhilfe unit, also smuggled Ukrainian nationalists into Poland in order to erode Polish defences by conducting a terror campaign directed at Polish farmers and Jews. OUN leaders Andriy Melnyk (code name Consul I) and Bandera (code name Consul II) both served as agents of the Nazi Germany military intelligence Abwehr Second Department. Their goal was to run diversion activities after Germany's attack on the Soviet Union. This information is part of the testimony that Abwehr Colonel Erwin Stolze gave on 25 December 1945 and submitted to the Nuremberg trials, with a request to be admitted as evidence.[43][44][45][46][47]

In the spring of 1941, Bandera held meetings with the heads of Germany's intelligence, regarding the formation of "Nachtigall" and "Roland" Battalions. In spring of that year the OUN received 2.5 million marks for subversive activities inside the Soviet Union.[42][48] Gestapo and Abwehr officials protected Bandera followers, as both organizations intended to use them for their own purposes.[49]

Bandera`s OUN and Nazi officials at joint Celebration dedicated to the establishment of Ukrainian Statehood in Western Ukraine, 7 July 1941. Occupied Eastern Poland.

On June 23, 1941, one day prior to German attack on the Soviet Union, Bandera sent a letter to Hitler reasoning the case for an independent Ukraine.[6] On 30 June 1941, with the arrival of Nazi troops in Ukraine, Bandera and the OUN-B unilaterally declared an independent Ukrainian state ("Act of Renewal of Ukrainian Statehood").[50] The proclamation pledged a cooperation of the new Ukrainian state with Nazi Germany under the leadership of Hitler with a closing note "Glory to the heroic German army and its Führer, Adolf Hitler".[5] The declaration was accompanied by violent pogroms.[50]

Bandera's expectation that the Nazi regime would post factum recognize an independent fascist Ukraine as an Axis ally proved to be wrong.[50] In 1941 relations between Nazi Germany and the OUN-B had soured to the point where a Nazi document dated 25 November 1941 stated that "... the Bandera Movement is preparing a revolt in the Reichskommissariat which has as its ultimate aim the establishment of an independent Ukraine. All functionaries of the Bandera Movement must be arrested at once and, after thorough interrogation, are to be liquidated...".[51] On 5 July, Bandera was placed under arrest and taken to Berlin the next day. On 12 July, the prime minister of the newly formed Ukrainian National Government, Yaroslav Stetsko, was also arrested and taken to Berlin. Although released from custody on 14 July, both were required to stay in Berlin. On 15 September 1941 Bandera and leading OUN members were arrested by the Gestapo.

In January 1942, Bandera was transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp's special prison cell building (Zellenbau) for high-profile political prisoners.[52] In April 1944, Bandera and his deputy Yaroslav Stetsko were approached by a Reich Security Main Office official to discuss plans for diversions and sabotage against the Soviet Army.[53] In September 1944,[54] Bandera was released by the German authorities and allowed to return to Ukraine in the hope that his partisans would harass the Soviet troops, which by that time had handed the Germans major defeats.

Postwar activity

Shortly after the war, Bandera and his family moved several times around West Germany before settling in Munich. He used false identification documents that helped him to conceal his past relationship with the Nazis.[4] Bandera was protected by the Gehlen Organization but he also received help from underground organizations of former Nazis who helped Bandera to cross borders between Allied occupation zones.[4]

According to Stephen Dorril, author of MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service, OUN-B was re-formed in 1946 under the sponsorship of MI6. The organization had been receiving some support from MI6 since the 1930s.[55] One faction of Bandera's organization, associated with Mykola Lebed, became more closely associated with the CIA.[56] Bandera himself was the target of an extensive and aggressive search carried out by the Counterintelligence Corps (CIC).[9] It failed, having described their quarry as "extremely dangerous" and "constantly en route, frequently in disguise".[9] Some American intelligence reported that he even was guarded by former SS men.[57]

Also in 1946, agents of the CIC and NKVD entered into extradition negotiations based on the intra-Allied cooperation wartime agreement made at the Yalta Conference. The CIC wanted Frederick Wilhelm Kaltenbach, who would turn out to be deceased, and in return the Soviet Union proposed Bandera. Bandera and many Ukrainian nationalists had ended up in the American zone after the war. The Soviet Union regarded all Ukrainians as Soviet citizens and demanded their repatriation under the intra-Alied agreement. The US thought Bandera was too valuable to give up due to his knowledge about the Soviet Union, so the US started blocking his extradition under an operation called "Anyface". From the perspective of the US, the Soviet Union and Poland were issuing extradition attempts of these Ukrainians to prevent the US from getting sources of intelligence, so this became one of the factors in the breakdown of the cooperation agreement.[58]

Bandera's organization perpetrated many crimes, including hundreds of thousands of murders,[50] counterfeiting, and kidnapping. After the Bavarian state government initiated a crackdown on it, Bandera reached an agreement with the BND, offering them his service, despite CIA warning the West Germans against cooperating with him.[9] Bandera also visited after the war Ukrainian communities in Canada, Austria, Italy, Spain, Belgium, UK and Holland.[4]

His views

According to Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe "Bandera's worldview was shaped by numerous far-right values and concepts including ultranationalism, fascism, racism, and antisemitism; by fascination with violence; by the belief that only war could establish a Ukrainian state; and by hostility to democracy, communism, and socialism. Like other young Ukrainian nationalists he combined extremism with religion and used religion to sacralize politics and violence."[59]

Per Anders Rudling stated that Bandera and his followers "advocated the selective breeding to create a "pure" Ukrainian race[60] and that "the OUN shared the fascist attributes of antiliberalism, anticonservatism, and anticommunism, an armed party, totalitarianism, anti-Semitism, Führerprinzip, and an adoption of fascist greetings. Its leaders eagerly emphasized to Hitler and Ribbentrop that they shared the Nazi Weltanschauung and a commitment to a fascist New Europe."[61] Timothy Snyder has described him as a fascist.[3]

Views towards Poles

Monument to Poles killed by UPA, Liszna, Poland

In a May 1941 meeting in Kraków, the leadership of Bandera's OUN faction adopted the program "Struggle and action for OUN during the war" (Ukrainian: "Боротьба й діяльність ОУН під час війни") which outlined the plans for activities at the onset of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the western territories of the Ukrainian SSR.[62] Section G of that document, the "Directives for organizing the life of the state during the first days" (Ukrainian: "Вказівки на перші дні організації державного життя"), outline activity of the Bandera followers during summer 1941.[63]

In late 1942, when Bandera was in a German concentration camp, his organization, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, was involved in a massacre of Poles in Volhynia and, in early 1944, ethnic cleansing also spread to Eastern Galicia. It is estimated that more than 35,000 and up to 60,000 Poles, mostly women and children along with unarmed men, were killed during the spring and summer campaign of 1943 in Volhynia, and up to 133,000 if other regions, such as Eastern Galicia, are included.[64][65][66]

Despite the central role played by Bandera's followers in the massacre of Poles in western Ukraine, Bandera himself was interned in a German concentration camp when the concrete decision to massacre the Poles was made and when the Poles were killed.[clarification needed] According to Yaroslav Hrytsak, Bandera was not completely aware of events in Ukraine during his internment from the summer of 1941 and had serious differences of opinion with Mykola Lebed, the OUN-B leader who remained in Ukraine and who was one of the chief architects of the massacres of Poles.[67][68][unreliable source?]

Views towards Jews

Ukrainian nationalism did not historically include antisemitism as a core aspect of its program and saw Russians as well as Poles as the chief enemy with Jews playing a secondary role.[69] Nevertheless, Ukrainian nationalism was not immune to the influence of the antisemitic climate in Eastern and Central Europe,[69] that had already become highly racialized in the late 19th century.

One of the political differences between Bandera and Andriy Melnyk was their attitude about the fact that Richard Jary, Mykola Stsibors’kyi and other members of the OUN were married to Jewish women. For Bandera that was an utter scandal: in a letter he wrote to Melnyk on 10th August 1940, he said he would accept his leadership, provided that he expelled OUN members who were married to Jewish women.[40] Hostility to both the Soviet central government and the Jewish minority was highlighted at the OUN-B's Conference in Kraków in May 1941, at which the leadership of Bandera's OUN faction adopted the program "Struggle and action of OUN during the war" which outlined the plans for activities at the onset of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the western territories of the Ukrainian SSR.[62] The program declared:

The Jews in the USSR constitute the most faithful support of the ruling Bolshevik regime, and the vanguard of Muscovite imperialism in Ukraine. The Muscovite-Bolshevik government exploits the anti-Jewish sentiments of the Ukrainian masses to divert their attention from the true cause of their misfortune and to channel them in a time of frustration into pogroms on Jews. The OUN combats the Jews as the prop of the Muscovite-Bolshevik regime and simultaneously it renders the masses conscious of the fact that the principal foe is Moscow.[70]

Section G of the program – "Directives for organizing the life of the state during the first days" outlined activity of the Bandera followers during mid-1941.[63] In a subsection on "Minority Policy", the leaders of OUN-B ordered:

Moskali [i.e. ethnic Russians], Poles, and Jews that are hostile to us are to be destroyed in struggle, particularly those opposing the regime, by means of: deporting them to their own lands, eradicating their intelligentsia, which is not to be admitted to any governmental positions, and overall preventing any creation of this intelligentsia (e.g. access to education etc)... Jews are to be isolated, removed from governmental positions in order to prevent sabotage... Those who are deemed necessary may only work under strict supervision and removed from their positions for slightest misconduct... Jewish assimilation is not possible.[71][72]

Later in June, Yaroslav Stetsko sent to Bandera a report in which he stated "We are creating a militia which will help to remove the Jews and protect the population."[73][74] Leaflets spread in the name of Bandera in the same year called for the "destruction" of "Moscow", Poles, Hungarians and Jewry.[75][76][77] In 1941–1942 while Bandera was cooperating with the Germans, OUN members did take part in anti-Jewish actions. German police in 1941 reported that "fanatic" Bandera followers, organised in small groups were "extraordinarily active" against Jews and communists.[78]

UPA forced an unknown number of Jewish doctors, dentists, and nurses to treat UPA insurgents. The majority were later murdered shortly before the Soviet arrival.[4][79][80] In the official organ of the OUN-B's leadership, instructions to OUN groups urged those groups to "liquidate the manifestations of harmful foreign influence, particularly the German racist concepts and practices."[81] Several Jews took part in Bandera's underground movement,[81] including one of Bandera's close associates Richard Yary who was also married to a Jewish woman. Another notable Jewish UPA member was Leyba-Itzik "Valeriy" Dombrovsky. (While two Karaites from Galicia, Anna-Amelia Leonowicz (1925–1949) and her mother, Helena (Ruhama) Leonowicz (1890–1967), are reported to have become members of OUN, oral accounts suggest that both women collaborated not of their own free will, but following threats from nationalists.[82]) By 1942, Nazi officials had concluded that Ukrainian nationalists were largely indifferent to Jews and were willing to both help them or kill them if either better served the nationalist cause. A report, dated 30 March 1942, sent to the Gestapo in Berlin, claimed that "the Bandera movement provided forged passports not only for its own members but also for Jews."[83] The false papers were most likely supplied to Jewish doctors or skilled workers who could be useful for the movement.[84]

German-Polish historian Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe considers Bandera an antisemite.[59]


Bandera's grave in Munich, April 2014

Starting 1954, the Soviet KGB, multiple times attempted to kidnap or assassinate Bandera.[4] On 15 October 1959, Bandera collapsed outside of Kreittmayrstrasse 7 in Munich and died shortly thereafter. A medical examination established that the cause of his death was poison by cyanide gas.[85][86] On 20 October 1959, Bandera was buried in the Waldfriedhof Cemetery in Munich. His wife and three children moved to Toronto, Canada.[4] Immediately after his assassination, Bandera’s admirers among Ukrainian diaspora portrayed his death as one of the most important tragedies in Ukrainian history, transformed him into a martyr killed by an enemy of the Ukrainians.[4]

Two years after his death, on 17 November 1961, the German judicial bodies announced that Bandera's murderer had been a KGB agent named Bohdan Stashynsky who used a cyanide dust spraying gun to murder Bandera and acted on the orders of Soviet KGB head Alexander Shelepin and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.[9][87] After a detailed investigation against Stashynsky, who by then had defected from KGB and confessed the killing, a trial took place from 8 to 15 October 1962. Stashynsky was convicted, and on 19 October he was sentenced to eight years in prison.


Stepan Bandera's family in Volya Zaderevatska, 1933

Bandera's brothers, Oleksandr and Vasyl, were arrested by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp where they were allegedly killed by Polish inmates in 1942.[88]

His father Andriy was arrested by the Soviets in late May 1941 for harboring an OUN member and transferred to Kyiv. On 8 July he was sentenced to death and executed on the 10th. His sisters Oksana and Marta–Maria were arrested by the NKVD in 1941 and sent to a gulag in Siberia. Both were released in 1960 without the right to return to Ukraine. Marta–Maria died in Siberia in 1982, and Oksana returned to Ukraine in 1989 where she died in 2004. Another sister, Volodymyra, was sentenced to a term in Soviet labor camps from 1946 to 1956. She returned to Ukraine in 1956.[89]


Ukrainian postal stamp commemorating the centennial of Bandera's birth
Ukrainian nationalists march through Kyiv, holding a banner with Bandera's portrait, as well as the flags of the Right Sector and Svoboda.

According to The Guardian, "Post-war Soviet history propagated the image of Bandera and the UPA as exclusively fascist collaborators and xenophobes."[90] On the other hand, with the rise of nationalism in Ukraine, his memory there has been elevated.

In an interview with the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in 2005, former KGB Chief Vladimir Kryuchkov claimed that "the murder of Stepan Bandera was one of the last cases when the KGB disposed of undesired people by means of violence."[91]

In late 2006, the Lviv city administration announced the future transference of the tombs of Stepan Bandera, Andriy Melnyk, Yevhen Konovalets and other key leaders of OUN/UPA to a new area of Lychakiv Cemetery specifically dedicated to victims of the repressions of the Ukrainian national liberation struggle.[92]

In October 2007, the city of Lviv erected a statue dedicated to Bandera.[93] The appearance of the statue has engendered a far-reaching debate about the role of Stepan Bandera and UPA in Ukrainian history. The two previously erected statues were blown up by unknown perpetrators; the current is guarded by a militia detachment 24/7. On 18 October 2007, the Lviv City Council adopted a resolution establishing the Award of Stepan Bandera.[94][95]

On 1 January 2009, his 100th birthday was celebrated in several Ukrainian centres[96][97][98][99][100] and a postage stamp with his portrait was issued the same day.[101] On 1 January 2014, Bandera's 105th birthday was celebrated by a torchlight procession of 15,000 people in the centre of Kyiv and thousands more rallied near his statue in Lviv.[102][103][104] The march was supported by the far-right Svoboda party and some members of the center-right Batkivshchyna.[105]

In 2018, the Ukrainian Parliament designated the 1 January, the Bandera's birthday, as a national holiday.[106] The decision was criticized by the Jewish organization Simon Wiesenthal Center.[107]

Attitudes in Ukraine towards Bandera

Lviv soccer fans at a game against Donetsk. The Ukrainian banner reads "Bandera – our hero"

Bandera continues to be a divisive figure in Ukraine. Although Bandera is venerated in certain parts of western Ukraine, and 33% of Lviv's residents consider themselves to be followers of Bandera,[108] he, along with Joseph Stalin and Mikhail Gorbachev, is considered in surveys of Ukraine as a whole among the three historical figures who produce the most negative attitudes.[109]

A national survey conducted in Ukraine in 2009 inquired about attitudes by region towards Bandera's faction of the OUN. It produced the following results:[110]

Attitudes by region towards Bandera's faction of the OUN
Region Very positive Mostly positive Neutral Mostly negative Very negative Unsure
Galicia (Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk) 37 26 20 5 6 6
Volhynia 5 20 57 7 5 6
Transcarpathia 4 32 50 0 7 7
Central Ukraine (Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Poltava, Sumy, Vinnytsia, Kirovohrad) 3 10 24 17 21 25
Eastern Ukraine (Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia) 1 1 19 13 26 20
Southern Ukraine (Odessa, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Crimea) 1 1 13 31 48 25
Ukraine as a whole 6 8 23 15 30 18

A poll conducted in early May 2021 by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation together with the Razumkov Centre's sociological service showed that 32% of citizens consider Stepan Bandera's activity as a historical figure to be positive for Ukraine, as many consider his activity negative; another 21% consider Bandera's activities as positive as they are negative. According to the poll, a positive attitude prevails in the western region of Ukraine (70%); in the central region of the state, 27% of respondents consider his activity positive, 27% consider his activity negative and 27% consider his activity both positive and negative;[111] negative attitude prevails in the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine (54% and 48% of respondents consider his activity negative for Ukraine, respectively).[111]

Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Bandera's favorability shot up rapidly, with 74% of Ukrainians now viewing him favorably, according to a poll in April 2022. Bandera continues to cause friction with countries such as Poland and Israel.[28] During the war, Russia heavily promoted the theme of "denazification", and used rhetoric that was similar to Soviet era policy of equating the development of Ukrainian national identity with Nazism due to Bandera's collaboration, which has a particular resonance in Russia.[112]

2014 Russian intervention in Ukraine

Headquarters of the Euromaidan, Kyiv, January 2014. At the front entrance there is a portrait of Bandera.

During the 2014 Crimean crisis and unrest in Ukraine, pro-Russian Ukrainians, Russians (in Russia), and some Western authors alluded to the bad influence of Bandera on Euromaidan protesters and pro-Ukrainian Unity supporters in justifying their actions.[113] According to The Guardian, " The term “Banderite” to described his followers gained a recent new and malign life when Russian media used it to demonise Maidan protesters in Kiev, telling people in Crimea and east Ukraine that gangs of Banderites were coming to carry out ethnic cleansing of Russians."[90] Russian media used this to justify Russia's actions.[29] Putin welcomed the annexation of Crimea by declaring that he "was saving them from the new Ukrainian leaders who are the ideological heirs of Bandera, Hitler's accomplice during World War II."[29] Pro-Russian activists claimed: "Those people in Kyiv are Bandera-following Nazi collaborators."[29] Ukrainians living in Russia complained of being labelled a "Banderite", even when they were from parts of Ukraine where Bandera has no popular support.[29] Groups who idolize Bandera took part in the Euromaidan protests but were a minority element.[29][114]

Hero of Ukraine award

On 22 January 2010, on the Day of Unity of Ukraine, the then-President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko awarded to Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine (posthumously) for "defending national ideas and battling for an independent Ukrainian state."[115] A grandson of Bandera, also named Stepan, accepted the award that day from the Ukrainian President during the state ceremony to commemorate the Day of Unity of Ukraine at the National Opera House of Ukraine.[115][116][117][118]

Reactions to Bandera's award vary. This award has been condemned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center[119] and the Student Union of French Jews.[120] On 25 February 2010, the European Parliament criticized the decision by then president of Ukraine, Yushchenko to award Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine and expressed hope it would be reconsidered.[121] On 14 May 2010, in a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said about the award: "that the event is so odious that it could no doubt cause a negative reaction in the first place in Ukraine. Already it is known a position on this issue of a number of Ukrainian politicians, who believe that solutions of this kind do not contribute to the consolidation of Ukrainian public opinion".[122] On the other hand, the decree was applauded by Ukrainian nationalists in western Ukraine and by a small portion of Ukrainian Americans.[123][124]

On 5 March 2010, President Viktor Yanukovych stated that he would make a decision to repeal the decrees to honor the title of Heroes of Ukraine to Bandera and fellow nationalist Roman Shukhevych before the next Victory Day,[125] although the Hero of Ukraine decrees do not stipulate the possibility that a decree on awarding this title can be annulled.[126] On 2 April 2010, an administrative Donetsk region court ruled the presidential decree awarding the title to be illegal. According to the court's decision, Bandera was not a citizen of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (vis-à-vis Ukraine).[127][128][129][130] On 5 April 2010, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine refused to start constitutional proceedings on the constitutionality of the President Yushchenko decree the award was based on. A ruling by the court was submitted by the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on 20 January 2010.[131] In January 2011, the presidential press service informed that the award was officially annulled.[22][132] This was done after a cassation appeal filed against the ruling by Donetsk District Administrative Court was rejected by the Higher Administrative Court of Ukraine on 12 January 2011.[133][134] Former President Yushchenko called the annulment "a gross error."[135]

In December 2018, the Ukrainian parliament moved to again confer the award on Bandera but the proposal was rejected in August 2019.[24]


Stepan Bandera monument in Ternopil

There are Stepan Bandera museums in Dubliany, Volia-Zaderevatska, Staryi Uhryniv, and Yahilnytsia. There is a Stepan Bandera Museum of Liberation Struggle in London, part of the OUN Archive,[136] and The Bandera's Family Museum (Музей родини Бандерів) in Stryi.[137][138] There are also Stepan Bandera streets in Lviv (formerly vulytsia Myru, "Peace street"), Lutsk (formerly Suvorovska street), Rivne (formerly Moskovska street), Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chervonohrad (formerly Nad Buhom street),[139] Berezhany (formerly Cherniakhovskoho street), Drohobych (formerly Sliusarska street), Stryi, Kalush, Kovel, Volodymyr-Volynskyi, Horodenka, Dubrovytsia, Kolomyia, Dolyna, Iziaslav, Skole, Shepetivka, Brovary, and Boryspil, and a Stepan Bandera Avenue in Ternopil (part of the former Lenin Avenue).[140] On 16 January 2017, the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance stated that of the 51,493 streets, squares and "other facilities" that had been renamed (since 2015) due to decommunization 34 streets were named after Stepan Bandera.[141] Due to "association with the communist totalitarian regime", the Kyiv City Council on 7 July 2016 voted 87 to 10 in favor of supporting renaming Moscow Avenue to Stepan Bandera Avenue.[142][143]

After the fall of the Soviet Union, monuments dedicated to Stepan Bandera have been constructed in a number of western Ukrainian cities and villages, including a statue in Lviv. Bandera was also named an honorary citizen of a number of western Ukrainian cities.[4]

In late 2018, the Lviv Oblast Council decided to declare the year of 2019 to be the year of Stepan Bandera, sparking protests by Israel.[144] Two feature films have been made about Bandera, among them are Assassination: An October Murder in Munich (1995) and The Undefeated (2000), both directed by Oles Yanchuk, along with a number of documentary films. In 2021, the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory under the authority of the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, included Bandera, among other Ukrainian nationalist figures, in Virtual Necropolis, a project intended to commemorate historical figures important for Ukraine.[145]

See also


  1. ^ a b Marples, David R. (2006). "Stepan Bandera: The Resurrection of a Ukrainian National Hero. Europe-Asia Studies. 58 (4): 555–566. doi:10.1080/09668130600652118. "A Second Extraordinary Congress of the OUN in April 1941 formally elected Bandera the leader of this more militant wing. As the head of terrorist activities in the recent past, he was considered the natural choice."
  2. ^ Breitman, Richard (2010). Hitler's Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence, and the Cold War. DIANE Publishing. p. 82. ISBN 9781437944297. "Bandera was, according to his handlers, 'a professional underground worker with a terrorist background and ruthless notions about the rules of the game. ... A bandit type if you like, with a burning patriotism, which provides an ethical background and a justification for his banditry. No better and no worse than others of his kind ... .'"
  3. ^ a b Snyder, Timothy. "A Fascist Hero in Democratic Kiev | Timothy Snyder". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 30 April 2022. The incoming Ukrainian president will have to turn some attention to history, because the outgoing one has just made a hero of a long-dead Ukrainian fascist. By conferring the highest state honor of “Hero of Ukraine” upon Stepan Bandera....Bandera aimed to make of Ukraine a one-party fascist dictatorship without national minorities. During World War II, his followers killed many Poles and Jews. - Timothy Snyder
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Rossolinski, Grzegorz. The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist : Fascism, Genocide, and Cult. pp. 41, 73, 79, 88, 151, 199, 200, 277, 278, 281, 292, 295, 301. The OUN-B and UPA did not intend to kill all the Jews who were hiding in the forest immediately, but offered some of them “protection.” The OUN-B registered these Jews, kept them in “camps,” and forced them to work for the OUN-B and UPA. The “camps” were frequently farms or houses of murdered Poles. Most of such Jews were killed by the nationalists before the Red Army arrived in western Ukraine...An unknown number of Jewish doctors, dentists, and nurses agreed or were forced to treat UPA insurgents. During their period with the UPA, they were usually frightened of the partisans and OUN-B activists and tried to escape. Like the Jews “employed” by the OUN-UPA in collective farms or camps, the majority were killed shortly before the Red Army came to western Ukraine. - Page 242 ... Ukrainian sources speak of a considerable number of Jewish physicians, dentists, and hospital attendants who served in the ranks of the UPA. The question is: Why did only a small number of them remain alive? The Bandera groups also utilized other Jewish skilled workers. According to Lew Shankowsky, practically every UPA group had a Jewish physician or pharmacist, as well as Jewish tailors, shoemakers, barbers, and the like. Again the question arises: What happened to these hundreds of thousands of Jewish professionals and skilled workers? Betty Eisenstein states that in the spring of 1943 the Bandera groups began to imitate the German tactics of “selection.” Only the skilled workers were left alive, and they were concentrated in special camps, where they worked at their trades or on the farms...Eisenstein reports that at the approach of the Soviet army the Bandera groups liquidated the Jews of the camps. - page 243...Bandera was protected and supported by the Gehlen Organization and also received help from members of such organizations as the former Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend), the SS, and other individuals and organizations in situations similar to that of Bandera. The CIC noted that an underground organization of former Nazis helped Bandera to cross the border between the American and French occupation zones several times. - page 281...To welcome the Germans and signalize support for the new Ukrainian state, the OUN-B instructed local Ukrainians to erect triumphal arches. - Page 199
  5. ^ a b c Littman, Sol (2003). Pure Soldiers Or Sinister Legion: The Ukrainian 14th Waffen-SS Division. Black Rose Books. pp. 50, 198. ISBN 978-1-55164-219-2. The proclamation issued by Stetsko on behalf of the Bandera faction of the OUN promised that the new Ukrainian state would faithfully “cooperate with National Socialist Great Germany, which under the leadership of Adolf Hitler is establishing a New World Order in Europe and the world.The proclamation’s closing flourish called for: “Glory to the heroic German army and its Führer, Adolf Hitler...In the confusion that accompanied the German invasion of Poland, Lebed and Bandera were released from prison in 1939 and allowed to continue their political work.
  6. ^ a b Piotrowski, Tadeusz (9 January 2007). Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947. McFarland. pp. 221, 363. ISBN 978-0-7864-2913-4. On June 30, 1941, the Bandera faction unilaterally declared Ukrainian independence! This event was preceded by a letter to Hitler from Bandera, who argued the case for an independent Ukrainian state but said nothing about the OUN-B’s intended course of action. The letter was dated June 23, 1941, just one day after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. There was no reply from Hitler. (page 221)... After their release from Bereza Kartuska (September 5-10, 1939), Bandera and the others contacted the Abwehr and, after a rest, returned to their operational base (called Kochstelle by Volodymyr Kubiiovych) in Krakow. There, they maintained close contact with Wehrmacht officials. (page 363)
  7. ^ "Державний архів Львівської області". Archived from the original on 5 January 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  8. ^ Киричук Юрій. Історія УПА Archived 14 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine. — Тернопіль: Редакційно-видавничий відділ управління по пресі, 1991. (in Ukrainian)
  9. ^ a b c d e Breintman and J.W. Goda. "Hitler's Shadow" (PDF). National Archives. p. 74, 79, 80, 83, 84, 85. (Page 74) Bandera and Stetsko were held initially in Berlin under house arrest. After January 1942 they were sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp but in comparatively comfortable confinement. (Page 85) ..a KGB assassin named Bogdan Stashinskiy murdered Bandera with a special gun that sprayed cyanide dust into the victim’s face.
  10. ^ Rossolinski, Grzegorz (2014). Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist : Fascism, Genocide, and Cult. Columbia University Press. p. 538. ISBN 9783838206844.
  11. ^ БАНДЕРА СТЕПАН АНДРІЙОВИЧ. (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  12. ^ a b Viktorovych., Chastiĭ, Ruslan (2007). Stepan Bandera : mify, legendy, deĭstvitelʹnostʹ. Kharʹkov: Folio. p. 382. ISBN 978-9660336568. OCLC 83597856.
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  15. ^ "УКАЗ ПРЕЗИДЕНТА УКРАИНЫ № 46/2010: О присвоении С.Бандере звания Герой Украины" [DECREE OF THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE No. 46/2010: About the assignment of S. Kander the title of Hero of Ukraine]. President of Ukraine (in Russian). Archived from the original on 25 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  16. ^ "Texts adopted – Thursday, 25 February 2010 – Situation in Ukraine – P7_TA(2010)0035". Retrieved 18 August 2018. Deeply deplores the decision by the outgoing President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, posthumously to award Stepan Bandera, a leader of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) which collaborated with Nazi Germany, the title of ‘National Hero of Ukraine, hopes, in this regard, that the new Ukrainian leadership will reconsider such decisions and will maintain its commitment to European values.
  17. ^ Rosenfeld, Alvin H. (19 June 2013). Resurgent Antisemitism: Global Perspectives. Indiana University Press. p. 226. ISBN 978-0-253-00890-9. In January 2010, former president of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko of- ficially “rehabilitated” Stepan Bandera, head of one of the two factions of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the political sponsor of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. This act drew condemnation from Russia, Poland, and Jewish groups.
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  43. ^ Littman, Sol (2003). Pure Soldiers Or Sinister Legion: The Ukrainian 14th Waffen-SS Division. Black Rose Books. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-55164-219-2. the Abwehr’s Second Department, which specialized in sabotage and subversion under the direction of General Erwin Lahousen and Colonel Erwin Stolze. Skillfully playing one man against the other, Canaris bestowed Konovalets’ former Abwehr code-name, Consul I, on Melnyk while Bandera became known as Consul II. In advance of the 1939 cam- paign against Poland, Canaris ordered Ukrainian exiles smuggled into Poland to weaken Polish defenses by launching a terror campaign against the Jews and the Polish farmers. According to General Lahousen’s testimony at the Nuremberg Trials, the mission was to provoke an uprising in which all Polish homes would be set afire and Jews killed.
  44. ^ Piotrowski, Tadeusz (1 January 2000). Genocide and Rescue in Wołyń: Recollections of the Ukrainian Nationalist Ethnic Cleansing Campaign Against the Poles During World War II. McFarland. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-7864-0773-6. Ukrainian Nationalist Socialists who were in the German Intelligence Service and other members of the nationalist fascist groups.... Instructions were given by me personally to the leaders of the Ukrainian Nationalists, Melnyk [Code Name “Consul I”] and Bandera [Code Name “Consul II”]
  45. ^ "Nuremberg – The Trial of German Major War Criminals (Volume VI)". Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
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  49. ^ p.15 ОУН в 1941 році: документи: В 2-х ч Ін-т історії України НАН України К. 2006 ISBN 966-02-2535-0 – У владних структурах рейху знайшлися сили яки з прагматичних міркувань стали на захист бандерівців. Керівники гестапо сподівалися використовувати їх у власних цілях а керівники абверу а радянському тилу.
  50. ^ a b c d Per Anders Rudling, The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths, The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies, No. 2107, November 2011, ISSN 0889-275X, p. 17.
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  63. ^ a b І.К. Патриляк. Військова діяльність ОУН(Б) у 1940—1942 роках. – Університет імені Шевченко \Ін-т історії України НАН України Київ, 2004 (No ISBN p.56 .
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  71. ^ Меншинева політика. 16. Національні меншини поділяються на: а) приязні нам, себто членів досі поневолених народів; б) ворожі нам, москалі, поляки, жиди. а) Мають однакові права з українцями, уможливлюємо їм поворот в їхню батьківщину. б) Винищування в боротьбі, зокрема тих, що боронитимуть режиму: переселювання в їх землі, винищувати головно інтелігенцію, якої не вільно допускати до ніяких урядів, і взагалі унеможливлюємо продуку- вання інтелігенції, себто доступ до шкіл і т.д. Наприклад, так званих польських селян треба асимілювати, усвідомлюючи з місця їм, тим більше в цей гарячий, повний фанатизму час, що вони українці, тільки латинського обряду, насильно асимільовані. Проводирів нищити. Жидів ізолювати, поусувати з урядів, щоб уникнути саботажу, тим більше москалів і поляків. Коли б була непоборна потреба оставити, приміром, в господарськім апараті жида, поставити йому нашого міліціянта над головою і ліквідувати за найменші провини. Керівники поодиноких галузей життя можуть бути лише українці, а не чужині – вороги. Асиміляція жидів виключається. p.103–104 ОУН в 1941 році: документи: В 2-х ч Ін-т історії України НАН України К. 2006 ISBN 966-02-2535-0
  72. ^ same text p.485–486 І.К. Патриляк. Військова діяльність ОУН(Б) у 1940—1942 роках. — Університет імені Шевченко \Ін-т історії України НАН України Київ, 2004
  73. ^ Dr. Franziska Bruder "Radicalization of the Ukrainian Nationalist Policy in the context of the Holocaust" The International Institute for Holocaust Research No. 12 -June 2008 p.37 ISSN 1565-8643
  74. ^ "робимо міліцію що поможе жидів усувати Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, p.63
  75. ^ І.К. Патриляк. Військова діяльність ОУН(Б) у 1940—1942 роках. – Університет імені Шевченко \Ін-т історії України НАН України Київ, 2004 (No ISBN p 324 "Народе знай Москва Польша, мадяри жидова- це твої вороги. Нищ їх"
  76. ^ same text p.259 July p 576 December – ОУН в 1941 році: документи: В 2-х ч Ін-т історії України НАН України К. 2006 ISBN 966-02-2535-0
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  80. ^ Friedman Essays (1980). pg. 204. Among several Jews saved by UPA Friedman mentions a Jewish physician and his wife whom he knows in Israel who were saved by UPA, another Jewish physician and his brother who lived in Tel Aviv after the war
  81. ^ a b Friedman Essays (1980). pg. 188, 204
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  97. ^ Events by themes: Mass meeting, devoted to 100 birth anniversary of Stepan Bandera, in Stariy Ugriniv village, UNIAN photo service (1 January 2009)
  98. ^ Events by themes: Monument to Stepan Banderq and memorial complex the heroes of UPA were opened in Ivano-Frankivsk (Ivano-Frankivsk), UNIAN photo service (1 January 2009)
  99. ^ Events by themes: Kharkiv nationalists were disallowed to arrange a torchlight procession in honor of Bandera's birthday (Kharkiv), UNIAN photo service (1 January 2009)
  100. ^ Events by themes: Action "Stepan Bandera is a national hero" (Kyiv), UNIAN photo service (1 January 2009)
  101. ^ 2009 Philatelic Issues – Stefan Bandera (1909–1959) The Ukrainian Electronic Stamp Album
  102. ^ "15,000 nationalists march in Kiev". Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
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  104. ^ Lviv hosts rally to mark 105th anniversary of Ukrainian nationalist leader Bandera, Interfax-Ukraine (1 January 2014)
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  116. ^ President Viktor Yushchenko awarded title Hero of Ukraine to OUN Head Stepan Bandera Archived 6 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Radio Ukraine (22 January 2010)
  117. ^ Events by themes: 91th [sic] anniversary of Collegiality of Ukraine, UNIAN (22 January 2010)
  118. ^ Ukraine. Rehabilitation and new heroes, EuropaRussia, (29 January 2010)
  119. ^ WIESENTHAL CENTER BLASTS UKRAINIAN HONOR FOR NAZI COLLABORATOR Archived 29 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Simon Wiesenthal Center (28 January 2010)
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  121. ^ European parliament hopes new Ukraine's leadership will reconsider decision to award Bandera title of hero, Kyiv Post (25 February 2010)
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  123. ^ Analysis: Ukraine leader struggles to handle Bandera legacy, Kyiv Post (13 April 2010)
  124. ^ Ukrainians in New York take to streets to protest Russian fleet, Kyiv Post (6 May 2010)
  125. ^ Yanukovych to strip nationalists of hero status, Kyiv Post (5 March 2010)
  126. ^ Party of Regions proposes legal move to strip Bandera of Hero of Ukraine title, Kyiv Post (17 February 2010)
  127. ^ Donetsk court deprives Shukhevych of Ukrainian hero title, Kyiv Post (21 April 2010)
  128. ^ High Administrative Court dismisses appeals against illegal award of Hero of Ukraine title to Soviet soldiers, Kyiv Post (13 August 2010)
  129. ^ Ukraine court strips Bandera of Hero of Ukraine title, Top RBC (2 April 2010)
  130. ^ Ukraine court strips Bandera of Hero of Ukraine title because he wasn't citizen of Ukraine, (3 April 2010)
  131. ^ Constitutional Court refuses to consider case on Bandera's title of Hero of Ukraine, Kyiv Post (12 April 2010)
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  133. ^ Court: Ruling on Bandera legal, Kyiv Post (12 January 2011)
  134. ^ Update:Stepan Bandera is no longer a Hero of Ukraine, Kyiv Post (12 January 2011)
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  141. ^ (in Ukrainian) Dekomunizuvaly monuments to Lenin in 1320, Bandera set 4, Ukrayinska Pravda (16 January 2017)
    (in Ukrainian) WITH 50 THOUSAND RENAMED OBJECTS PLACE NAMES, ONLY 34 ARE NAMED AFTER BANDERA Archived 19 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance (16 January 2017)
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Further reading

External links