KIEV, December 6. /TASS/. Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) has recognized WWII-era collaborators with the Third Reich, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), and its affiliated Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA, both outlawed in Russia), who carried out atrocities and participated in the Holocaust, as ‘combat veterans’. A total of 236 lawmakers voted for a bill amending the list contained in a law “On the Status of War Veterans and their Social Protection Guarantees,” while 226 votes were needed to pass the bill.

The law previously deemed only UPA members, who fought against the Nazi German Army in 1941-1944 and were later rehabilitated as victims of political repression to be combat veterans. However, those who were involved in subversive activities against the Soviet government in 1944-1956 will also be deemed to be combat veterans.

An explanatory note says that as of late May 2018, about 1,200 members of the OUN and the UPA were still alive. They will now be provided with 20 social benefits such as utility and public transport discounts.

OUN and UPA

The extreme right wing Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists was active mostly in Western Ukraine. In order to establish an independent Ukrainian state, which was its chief goal, the OUN relied on the use of extremist methods, including terrorist attacks. During World War II, the OUN collaborated with Nazi intelligence and waged a war against the Soviet authorities. In 1943, it established the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA).

OUN and UPA mercenaries, called Banderites after Ukrainian Insurgent Army leader Stepan Bandera, were guilty of numerous crimes, namely participating in the Holocaust. According to a number of researchers, they killed at least one million people, including 200,000 Poles during a massacre in the Volyn Region, in addition to slaughtering tens of thousands of Jews, Russians, and multitudes of civilians.

In May 2015, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko signed a law glorifying the OUN and the UPA, whose activities had been previously designated as ‘struggle’ for the country’s independence. Monuments to Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevich – the leaders of the 20th century Ukrainian nationalist movement – have been erected across Ukraine, memorial events and torchlight processions take place in their memory, and streets are named after them. 0bea/pa.

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