Sat Feb 22nd, 2014 at 06:09:47 AM EST
Ukraine's west was culturally more independent and even the landscape shows an eastern and western divide. The west had suffered immensely under Soviet occupation and Stalin terror, the partisans were never subdued and fought the Soviets into the 1950s. The Maidan revolution is distinctly different from the peaceful Orange Revolt of 2004. The divisiveness has turned violent as the nationalists from the Odessa region arrived in Kiev and the fascists used their strength to defeat Yanukovich. It's rumored the president left fled Kiev yesterday and his plane could be tracked on Internet. The Speaker of Parliament, the first in line to replace the President is also on the plane. A few days ago, messages on social media stated large sums of cash were transported out of the country. It looks like the Revolution has succeeded to overthrow Yanukovich as the opposition forces have now occupied all of the government center in Kiev, including Parliament. One oligarch family is about to be replaced by another. The situation is very troublesome as the elites are equally divided as the nation falls into economic chaos as the acute debt of $15bn will likely not be alleviated by Putin's Russia. A failed state and bankruptcy is imminent. A bit more about Ukraine's history, Stalins terror and gulags and the devision after Nazi Germany attacked Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
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A picture of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich is seen as trash on the ground in Kiev (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)
Soviet Policy under Stalin and the Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-33
Ukraine was formally incorporated into the USSR as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (UkSSR) in 1922. The Communists were aware that resistance to their regime was deep and widespread. To pacify the Ukrainian people and to gain control, Moscow initially permitted a great deal of local autonomy to exist in the UkSSR. The newly established Ukrainian Autocephalous (self-ruling) Orthodox Church and the new All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, non-Communist national institutions of great importance, were both permitted to continue their work until the end of the 1920's.
All of this changed once Joseph Stalin came to power.
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Stalin wanted to consolidate the new Communist empire and to strengthen its industrial base. Ukrainian national aspirations were a barrier to those ends because even Ukrainian Communists opposed exploitation by Moscow. In Stalin's eyes, Ukraine, the largest of the non-Russian republics, would have to be subdued. Thus, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was placed under the jurisdiction of the Communist-controlled Russian Orthodox Church. Ukrainian bishops, priests and thousands of Christian lay leaders were sent to Siberian labor camps, the so-called "Gulag." Hundreds of thousands, possibly over a million, of Ukraine's intellectual leaders - writers, university professors, scientists, and journalists - were liquidated in purges ordered by Stalin. Not even loyal Ukrainian Communists were exempt from Stalin's terror. By 1939, practically the entire (98%) of Ukraine's Communist leadership had been liquidated.
Hardest hit by Stalin's policies were Ukraine's independent landowners, the so-called "kulaks" (kurkuly in Ukrainian). Never precisely defined, a kulak was a member of the alleged "upper stratum" of landowners but in reality anyone who owned a little land, even as little as 25 acres, came to be labeled as a kulak. Stalin ordered that all private farms would have to be collectivized. During the process, according to Soviet sources, which are no doubt on the conservative side, some 200,000 Ukrainian families were "de-kulakized" or dispossessed of all land. By the summer of 1932, 69.5% of all Ukrainian farm families and 80% of all farm land had been forcibly collectivized.
Ukrainian Holodomor or Extermination by Starvation
Efforts to reconcile Jewish and Ukrainian People
Ukraine was the only country that continued to fight WW II until 1956. General Roman Shukhevych, Commander of UPA, kept the guerrilla war going against USSR, five years after World War II, until he was killed in action in 1950. Something as unique as that, did not make it into the history of WW II? During WWII, Ukrainians had little to loose. They had lost their lands, their farm animals, tools and implements as well as families to the Stalin regime. Later the Germans came in and took their youth, the last of their food and burned out their shelter. So dying for Ukrainian freedom was the only honorable thing to do. Dying for Ukraine is an ongoing theme passed down through poetry. Young men took to the woods and kept killing Soviet soldiers. "Then many partisans, fully armed, crossed through Czechoslovakia to Austria and Germany and surrendered to Western occupational authorities" (Compiled by George Skoryk, from information contained in Encyclopedia Britannica, 2004).
"Fighting it out to the end, Shukhevych killed himself and several nearby Soviets with his last grenade...The UPA's last official military engagement occurred in October 1956, when some UPA survivors fought bravely on the Hungarian border to assist the Hungarian anti-Communist revolt."
Stepan Bandera, Ukrainian revolutionary politician and leader of UON
Assessments of his work have ranged from totally apologetic to sharply negative. On 22 January 2010, the outgoing President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko awarded to Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine (posthumously). The award was condemned by European Parliament, Russian, Polish and Jewish organizations, and was declared illegal by a pro-Russian Ukrainian government and court in April 2010. In January 2011, the award was officially annulled. As a result, Stepan Bandera remains a controversial figure today both in Ukraine and internationally.
UPA and the ethnic cleansing of Poles in Volhynia and Galicia