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Ukrainians march to celebrate anniversary of nationalist hero's birthday

Thursday, January 01, 2015 - 00:45

Thousands of Ukrainians march in central Kiev to mark the anniversary of the birthday of controversial nationalist hero Stepan Bandera. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). Thousands of Ukrainians marched through the streets of central Kiev holding torchlights on Thursday (January 1) night to celebrate the 106th anniversary of Ukrainian nationalist hero Stepan Bandera's birth. Chanting "Glory to Bandera!" and "Glory to Ukraine!", about 5,000 people marched waving the red and black flags of Ukraine's nationalist movement and the blue and yellow flags of the far-right Svoboda ("Freedom") party. They were carrying Stepan Bandera's portraits and playing the drums. Smaller marches also took place in other Ukrainian towns, such as Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa. Around 300 police officers were deployed along the march route in Ukraine's capital. Many people had their faces covered. Bandera, who led the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists in the first part of the 20th century is revered by Ukrainian nationalists for fighting Russian and Polish occupation in Ukraine but denounced by others as a Nazi collaborator during World War II. The Right Sector movement also joined the traditional march this year, with its members wearing military uniforms. According to the movement's official web page, it considers Bandera as "the leader of the Ukrainian nation", uniting people. The Right Sector gained fame last year at the beginning of the protest that toppled president Victor Yanukovich and now is active in fighting pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, which Ukrainian officials call ATO (Anti-terrorist operation). The annual march took place as Ukraine has faced months of conflict in the east of the country, where pro-Russian separatists proclaimed people's republics in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Since April the conflict has killed more then 4,000 people, including many civilians. A fragile ceasefire has been holding in the east from September despite both sides accuse each other of regularly breaking it.

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Ukrainians march to celebrate anniversary of nationalist hero's birthday

Thursday, January 01, 2015 - 00:45