The OUN and Its Significance for the All-Ukrainian Party Svoboda

The Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) plays a crucial part in historical and political discourse for the construction of a Ukrainian national identity and contributes to the myth of the ‘two Ukraines’: a Pro-European Western Ukraine that glorifies the OUN as heroes of independence on one hand, and pro-Russian Eastern Ukraine defaming them as ‘Nazi-collaborators’ and ‘russophobic’ agents on the other. With an ongoing economic, political, territorial and social threat surfacing from Russia, these narratives evolved into a political instrument for Ukrainian parties and Russian foreign politics. The former narrative, in particular, has been the core of conservative and nationalist parties in Ukraine’s political landscape since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Especially the far-right nationalist party Svoboda, that gained great popularity during the Euromaidan 2014, bases their political fundament on the narrative of the OUN and will be the centre of this paper.This Master dissertation addresses a politically controversial and essential discourse in Ukrainian society. It analyses which aspects of the historical Ukrainian party Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) are instrumentalised by Ukrainian far-right parties which contribute to propagate Russia’s narrative of a 'fascist' Ukraine. It focuses on delineating the political and organisational foundation of the OUN and seeks to find similarities in the actions and ideological stance of the far-right nationalist parties: Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (KUN), Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defence (UNA-UNSO) and Svoboda, before and after its renewal in 2004 (former Social-National Party of Ukraine, SNPU). In my Master's thesis, I focus on official resolutions of the OUN from 1929, 1941, and 1943 to analyse their ideological positions throughout the twentieth century. I also argue that several commonalities can be found between the OUN and Ukrainian far-right parties in their ideology, structure, and exterior characteristics. Lastly, I conclude that Svoboda underwent an ostensible change of direction towards a more liberal image and consequently disguises its contentious actions under the cloak of democratic ideals.

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