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18 Jan, 2024 22:21

Ukrainian Nazi-collaborator's slogan now illegal in Russia

The use of greetings such as “Glory to Ukraine,” used by WWII-era Ukrainian nationalists, can now result in fines and jail time
Ukrainian Nazi-collaborator's slogan now illegal in Russia

The Russian Ministry of Justice on Thursday included the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) on the list of Nazi organizations. Using its symbols or slogans is now a punishable offense.

A notice published on the ministry’s website names the OUN, the Ukrainian People’s Revolutionary Army (UNRA), the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People's Self-Defense (UNA-UNSO), as additions to the register of proscribed groups such as the SS.

According to a memo from the ministry, the ban includes the slogan “Glory to Ukraine” and its popular response “Glory to the heroes,” both widely used in modern Ukraine – and among Kiev’s supporters in the West. The listing also criminalizes the use of the emblems of OUN-M (golden trident with a sword on a blue shield) and OUN-B (a white cross with a golden trident on a black triangle, inside a red circle).

Established in 1929 in Austria, the OUN operated mainly in what was then eastern Poland. In 1940 it splintered into OUN-M led by Andrey Melnyk and OUN-B, led by Stepan Bandera. The OUN-B tried to declare an independent Ukrainian state allied with the Third Reich, established the UPA, and carried out massacres of ethnic Poles that Warsaw has officially recognized as genocide.

After the war, Bandera fled to the West and was eventually assassinated by the KGB in Munich in 1959. Torchlit parades in honor of his birthday became a regular occurrence after the 2014 US-backed coup in Kiev.

Moscow has accused the government in Kiev of aiding and abetting groups that have embraced Nazi ideology and WWII revisionism, setting “denazification” as one of the objectives of its military operation in Ukraine. Kiev and its Western backers have rejected the accusations as “Russian propaganda,” and the widespread use of German symbols as mere coincidence.

Thursday’s ban was authorized by Article 6 of the federal law ‘On the Perpetuation of the Victory of the Soviet People in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945,’ which was adopted in 1995. It allows the government to ban “propaganda or public display of paraphernalia or symbols of fascist organizations,” as well as organizations “collaborating with groups, organizations, movements or individuals who deny the facts and conclusions established by the verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal” or national tribunals during WWII.

Individuals caught violating the law can be fined up to 2,000 rubles ($22) or sentenced to 15 days in jail. Public officials face fines of up to 4,000 rubles, while legal entities can be fined up to 50,000.