Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Jamie Kirchik has some troubling thoughts on Stepan Bandera [UPDATE: PURE CONFUSION]

A few minutes ago I posted a brief synopsis of an interview Jamie Kirchik did in which he discusses then-pending speech legislation in Ukraine. On first review, I got stuck on his troubling characterization of "the heroic role that these various Ukrainian nationalist groups played" - particularly since the groups in question are far more accurately described as monstrous neo-nazo ethnonationalists. Evidently, this was shocking enough to me that I heard what followed as a defense of laws banning criticism of Stepan Bandera - when in fact, Kirchick was reversing trajectory here and criticizing such laws.

I owe Kirchik a minor apology: instead of being thoroughly horrific, his ideas about the Ukrainian right are only half-horrific and weirdly inconsistent. Here, for example, is an article where he once again defends Right Sector, while simultaneously offering some (disturbingly) modest criticism of their hero, Stepan Bandera. Comparisons of the ethnonationalists to Nazis only "ring a little truer" when we consider this "idolization" of Bandera - it turns out that his legacy is "problematic", though Kirchik is careful to point out that he was eventually "turned against" the Nazis and was "interned at Sachsenhausen concentration camp".

This, as far as I can tell, is what happens when you have trouble reconciling Russophobia with some dim recognition that many of the country's Ukrainian opponents openly worship a Nazi collaborator. I'm not going to think much more about how this logic works, so anyway, here's the video edited it for clarity and brevity:

And here are a few passages from Jacobin's excellent Who Was Stepan Bandera:
Bandera...conceived of revolution as a great purification process in which “Muscovites, Poles, and Jews” would be “destroyed...We treat the coming German army as the army of allies...We inform them that the Ukrainian authority is already established, it is under the control of the OUN under the leadership of Stepan Bandera...” 
The document continued that “it is permissible to liquidate undesirable Poles...NKVD people, informers, provocateurs...all important Ukrainians who...threaten the decisive mind-set of the Ukrainian nation...”
OUN members...form[ed] a militia of their own that would eventually call itself the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukraïns’ka Povstans’ka Armiia, or UPA)...their first major act was an ethnic cleansing campaign aimed at driving Poles out of eastern Galicia and Volhynia. “When it comes to the Polish question, this is not a military but a minority question,” a Polish underground source quoted a UPA leader as saying. “We will solve it as Hitler solved the Jewish question.” 
Citing the Polish historian Grezegorz Motyka, Rossoliński-Liebe says that the UPA killed close to 100,000 Poles between 1943 and 1945...Simultaneously, UPA attacks on Jews continued at such a ferocious level that Jews actually sought the protection of the Germans...According to a 1973 KGB report, more than 30,000 people fell victim to the OUN before the Soviets managed to wipe out resistance in 1950...
"Problematic" indeed.