war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Will we ramble in the desert for 29 years more?

Inna Sukhorukova, Kharkov
After the WW2, when the world and Europe obtained the comparative balance, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco decided that it was the time for national reconciliation in the country. As it is known, Franco came to power in Spain after the military coup d’etat and bloody civil war. In this war one part of the population supported the so-called „francists“ of „fascists“ (they were called so by the communist propaganda) and another part endorsed the left movement, the so-called „republicans“. After the defeat of the latter the country was split and suffered from the social opposition. The national reconciliation, as we see from the history, was achieved. It happened not only because General Franco ordered to construct the cross – the monument to all perished during the civil war, both to francists and to their enemies-republicans. The basis of the reconciliation, which enabled Franco to occupy the highest post in the country for a long time, was the fact that Franco, unlike others European dictators, was not a puppet of either Hitler or Stalin or the USA.

During the whole term of his authoritarian government this man uphold the state interests only, nipping in the bud all attempts to use Spain in some foreign interests (and such attempts were made regularly, especially by Hitler). Spaniards, whose national consciousness is very high, regarded Franco as their national leader.

I gave this example to illustrate the indefatigable discussion, which is now lasting in the Ukrainian society and, in particular, in the Supreme Rada. The discussion concerns the warriors of the UPA (the Ukrainian Partisan Army): whether to render them the status of the participants of military operations or to continue, like in Stalin’s and Brezhnev’s times, to consider them as traitors and terrorists, who were fighting against their own people.

If Ukraine acknowledged herself as really independent state, if the consciousness of her citizens and power was on the proper level, this question merely would not exist. Spain also was one of the poorest countries in Europe, and now it is wealthy owing to the high national consciousness of the population. Yet, the welfare and the level of the development of our country are not the main factors. The matter is, unfortunately, that we have no common Ukrainian history, no common past, so we cannot have the common future too. Maybe, this is the reason why the Ukrainian government permits everybody, who wishes, to meddle into our domestic affairs?

Russia and Poland have already expressed their negative attitude to giving the UPA warriors the status of the participants of military operations.

In our opinion, Russia must keep silence shyly, since she, as a legal successor of the USSR (by her own conscious wish), has not only economic, but also political duties.

What concerns Poland, this country rehabilitated the guerrillas, who fought for the People’s Army. These guerrilla troops fought, like the partisans of the OUN-UPA, both against Germans and against the Soviet army, as well as against their own communists, who captured the power in Poland with the assistance of Soviet tanks. Yet, there was a certain misunderstanding between the People’s Army and Ukrainians, who lived in Poland. This misunderstanding was diligently fanned by Stalin’s reconnaissance units. There are historical documents testifying to the activities of the NKVD troops, who, disguising themselves as the warriors of the OUN-UPA, attacked Polish and Ukrainian peaceful villages. Thus, the opposition of Polish and Ukrainian guerrillas and the mass actions against the peaceful population of Poland resulted in the open enmity with the obvious features of civil war.

After this the notorious operation „Vistula“ took place, when thousands of hundreds Ukrainians were deported from the Polish territory, and the rest were moved from the places of their compact residence to the back lands of Poland.

So, if the warriors of the People’s Army were rehabilitated in Poland, if they are regarded as national heroes, why our bureaucrats do not want Ukraine to do the same for the fighters for her independence? Because Ukraine is a weak and dependent country? Or because her government and her Supreme Rada cannot protect the interests of Ukraine and Ukrainian citizens on the international level? Certainly, it is true. Yet, there are some aspects of the internal policy. East Ukraine does not want to acknowledge the UPA warriors calling them „Bandera fighters“ (by the way, some dwellers of East Ukraine use this epithet not only concerning the dwellers of West Ukraine, but concerning any people, who speak Ukrainian). Reading the letters written by citizens to the newspapers (for instance, the Kharkov newspaper „Vremia“), the letters inspired by the newspaper articles on the OUN-UPA, one understands the only thing: there is an enormous gap between the generation of the people, who lived in the Soviet times, and the young generation. Old people and the people of middle age continue to interpret the history in the way they were taught in the secondary school: the fighters of the OUN-UPA were members of gangster gangs, who murdered people on the both sides. Nobody of them tries to look at the history with other eyes and to realize that Stalin and Hitler were the twins, who involved the world in the dreadful slaughter, after which the winner, Stalin, reshaped Europe according to his own will almost disregarding the wishes of the allies.

This is difficult to imagine what the Soviet power brought to West Ukraine: thousand of hundreds peaceful citizens exiled to Siberia with their families and small children, executions, provocations, torture… Galitchyna gave the surprising example, when the partisan movement lasted after the war, which finished in 1945, up to 1957 (and even several years later the single infrequent splashes of the guerrilla activity were observed). This is a unique example, when guerrillas were fighting against the power for such a long time having no external suppliers or arms and food. This could happen only if the local population supported them. Yet, the majority of East Ukrainians do not know this, do not understand, and, alas, do not want to know and understand. However, the great part of the young people, who grew in the times of perestroykaand independence, has quite another opinion. Unfortunately, our nation is not young…

So, here we see the same situation as in the foreign policy: the government and people’s deputies have not enough political will to conduct the explanatory campaign, to tell the bitter truth to the people of East and West Ukraine, to erect the common monument (a cross, since all of us are Christians) to all perished and to confer the status of the participants of military operations to all people, who fought for the independence and freedom of Ukraine.

I do not appeal to rehabilitate those, who served in the special troops of OUN-UPA – each case of the participation in the punitive actions must be considered individually, since military crimes are usually committed by special troops. And if some of these servicemen stained their hands with the blood of peaceful citizens, nobody would insist on giving them privileges and higher pensions. Although here the question raises: why the former servicemen of the NKVD do obtain such pensions? The reason is that we have not got rid of the Soviet mentality until now. It means that the former Soviet nomenclature is still governing our country, and they feel the genetic proximity with the former NKVD officers and reckon the UPA warriors as criminals.

Will we ramble in the desert for 29 years more? 11 years have already passed…
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