Every year, on January 1st, hundreds of Ukrainian nationalists march carrying torches in the capital Kyiv to mark the birthday of the late Stepan Bandera, glorified by some as a leader of Ukraine’s liberation movement and dismissed by others as a Nazi collaborator.
Bandera is a deeply divisive figure in Ukraine, glorified by many in western Ukraine as a freedom fighter but dismissed by millions in eastern and southeastern Ukraine as a traitor in the Soviet Union’s struggle against the occupying German army.
Bandera was a leader of Ukraine’s nationalist movement in the 1930s and 1940s, which included an insurgent army that fought alongside Nazi soldiers during part of the Second World War.
Bandera’s supporters claim they sided with the Nazis against the Soviet army, believing that Adolf Hitler would grant Ukraine independence.
The last march, on January 1, 2022 came amid persistently high concern over Russia’s massing of troops near the Ukrainian border, which many believe could be a prelude to an invasion. A large sector of eastern Ukraine has been under the control of Russia-backed separatist rebels since 2014.
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