11 March 2010

Battle over Bandera (Continued)

Alexander Motyl has published an even-handed assessment of the Bandera controversy in today's Moscow Times. An excerpt:

Bandera became especially popular as the noble ideals of the 2004 Orange Revolution were progressively tarnished by the heroes of that revolution, Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The more unpopular Yushchenko became, the more he promoted Bandera and the nationalists in the hope that some of their idealistic glow would rub off on him. Unfortunately, Yushchenko’s ill-considered conferral of Hero of Ukraine status on Bandera threw a wrench into a more or less even-tempered discussion of the nationalists and their legacy. Yushchenko’s critics — among them Putin and other top Russian officials who have indirectly rehabilitated Stalin — added fuel to the fire with their irresponsible accusations of fascism. At this point, a sensible discussion is almost impossible in the highly politicized atmosphere surrounding Bandera.

The objective, even-handed accounts of Ukrainian historians, who see Bandera in all his complexity, will eventually seep into the public realm, but only after Ukrainian identity is consolidated and Ukrainian fears of a neo-imperial Russia subside. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych could promote this shift by unifying the country around a common identity and history, vigorously protecting Ukrainian interests vis-a-vis Moscow and eschewing Yushchenko’s proclivity for provocation. Europe could help by opening its doors to Ukraine, and Russia can assist by rejecting Stalinism. And we should not forget about Western historians in this equation, who can do their part by refraining from simple-minded analyses.

The full article can be read here.

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