I was sitting on a curb outside of a Shoppers Drug Mart in a strip mall in Etobicoke, Canada with a friend. He was talking about his experiences during the Maidan Revolution – he was there in February and describing what he did to me. All that kept on going through my mind were the images I saw on the live feeds and this one particular picture (above) was also there. It’s those flags. That’s what made that image so remarkable. The founders of Kyiv, the flag of the UPA and the Ukrainian flags.
It’s insane the amount of progress that that UPA flag has made in the last couple of months. Before November 2013 it was seen mainly as that old Soviet stereotypical concept of Ukrainian cooperation with the Germans during the Second World War. But now – it’s the flag of a revolution. One year ago there really wasn’t that much acknowledgment of the UPA and if there was it wasn’t associated with anything good. Even in my own UPA history work, it was difficult to explain what they were and what they did without people automatically assuming that I was just a nationalist. Well, now – now things have changed.
People no longer assume they know about the UPA – like they no longer assume to know about what is happening in Ukraine (thank God they no longer assume Ukraine is Russia – but I’m sure those people are still out there, paid, unpaid or just ignorant to the facts). Now, they’re having festivals to the UPA, openly declaring themselves Banderites and using the image of Bandera to represent their dissatisfaction with authority.
This is unfortunately fodder to the Russian propaganda machine – the banderite fascists are taking over Ukraine! But what is actually happening is a revival of Ukrainian history. Not the Stalin inspired communist understanding of history but our history – our uniquely Ukrainian history. It’s like the pressure of underground memory has finally blown up and released a tidal wave of understanding about the imagery of the UPA (and some even now understanding the history of the UPA and the Ukrainian Nationalist Underground Movement). It’s inspiring to see that flag as a symbol of a truly Ukrainian Revolution that was fueled by nothing more than wanting a better life. In essence, that was what the UPA was: a want of Ukrainians to create their own state on their own land and have their future in their own hands. I hope this Revolution finally realizes their goals.