October 28th – the Day of Ukraine’s Liberation from Fascist Occupiers

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



On October 28th Ukraine celebrates the Day of the liberation from German-fascist occupiers. This is perhaps the only holiday associated with the Great Patriotic War and introduced in modern, post-Soviet Ukraine.

However, in recent years it hasn’t been widely celebrated – the perception of the liberation of Ukraine has somewhat changed. Thus, supporters of the current ideological course believe that, having liberated itself from the Nazis, Ukraine fell under “Soviet occupation”.

If we put the disputes of historians to one side, for ordinary Ukrainians this holiday for many years was not as popular as May 9th. Many people considered the liberation of Ukraine as a technical stage of the war, and the real victory for them happened in Berlin. But in recent years, with the intensification of attacks against the Soviet period of history, many have rethought their attitude to this day.

“Strana” has collected reviews for the October 28 holiday.

Who invented this holiday

In the official calendars, the day of the liberation of Ukraine appeared under President Viktor Yushchenko in 2009.

It was quite an atypical step on his part, since the 3rd President of the country clearly did not favor the period of the Great Patriotic War.

A possible explanation could be the fact that Yushchenko tried to historically justify the separateness of Ukraine, even in those historical periods when it was not separate. Allegedly, now we have our own day of Victory over fascists.

But this holiday didn’t become a national one – May 9th gave it strong competition. That’s why the day of the liberation of Ukraine remained a purely formal event.

The situation started to slowly change in recent years. Yushchenko’s holiday, which was invented to separate Ukrainian history from Russian history, suddenly acquired a flavour of “internal rebellion” against the current government.

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How Ukraine was liberated

The liberation of Ukraine from Nazis during the Great Patriotic War took place in the period from January 1943 to October 1944.

One of the most well-known Generals who took part in all major operations was Nikolay Vatutin, who liberated Kiev and was killed in a shootout with UPA in 1944.

However, in reality the war still hasn’t ended for him. Nationalists have recently been engaged in “hostilities” against the monument to Vatutin in Mariinsky Park in Kiev: either they pour paint on it or try to dismantle it.

What is said online about the Day of the liberation of Ukraine

On social networks the reactions to the holiday, as has been the norm recently, didn’t have any unanimity in opinions.

However, Petro Poroshenko made a completely unexpected statement. He congratulated on the holiday, but at the same time he didn’t once mention the “Russian aggressor”, as he usually does in such cases. At the same time, his Facebook post doesn’t look like a congratulations at all – the guarantor rather mourns than celebrates.

“74 years have passed since the expulsion of Nazi occupiers from Ukraine. This date will forever remain in the memory of all the people – after all, there is no family in Ukraine that didn’t lose relatives during the Nazi invasion and occupation.

We managed to stop the aggressor at the cost of incredible efforts, at the cost of millions of lives – every piece of our land was abundantly soaked in the blood of our defenders.

Eternal respect and memory for those who gave their lives for the future of future generations – the free future of Ukraine and the entire European continent,” wrote the guarantor on Facebook (it is interesting that this message isn’t on his official website).

However, this day didn’t pass without curses addressed to the Russia Federation. The professor of the Ternopol University of Economics Nikolay Lazarovich, who fought in the ATO, shared on Facebook the morning report from Donbass and commented on it:

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“Eternal glory and bright memory to the fallen Ukrainian Hero.

The paradox of the current situation is that today – October 28th, 2018 – is the day of expulsion of German Nazis from Ukraine. Some were expelled, others arrived. So, we have to make efforts in order to establish as soon as possible another memorable date – the day of liberation of Ukraine from Russian Nazis”.

The lawyer Elena Lukash also hinted at the present day, however not in the address of Russia, but in the direction of the Ukrainian authorities.

“October 28 is the Day of liberation of Ukraine from fascist invaders.

We remember the great Sacrifice and great Feat, the great Patriotic war and its Heroes. We remember, regardless of how the descendants of fascists try to destroy this memory.

There will be no oblivion for the feat of Heroes. Our hearts are full of gratitude. For valor, for courage, for sacrificed lives. For the sake of the future, for the sake of us. A low bow. Eternal memory.

Our cause is just, we will win!”.

Journalist Elena Markosyan also believes that now there is “another war”, in which this holiday acquires new relevance:

“Friends! Today is the Day of liberation of Ukraine from German-fascist occupants! Congratulations on the holiday! Our fathers and grandfathers defeated fascism and we will win! Now is another time and another war. But our new victory will be greater thanks to this!”

Former political prisoner and journalist Dmitry Vasilets said that in reality the authorities are mourning:

“Today is the day of Ukraine’s liberation from the Nazis in 1944, and representatives of the regime (Vyatrovichs, Kirilenkos, Tyagniboks, Gerashchenkos, Poroshenkos, etc.) in fact are mourning, and it is especially today that THEIR slogan ‘Never again’ and the wearing of ‘red poppies’ are indeed relevant for them.

And we need to prepare ourselves for the elections, because those who dismantled the monuments to the soldiers of the Great Patriotic War must, as a result, eventually restore everything in threefold size, and obligatorily before they flee from Ukraine.”

The blogger Miroslava Berdnik said that today [on October 28th – ed] the TV [in Ukraine – ed] describes how OUN and UPA drove the Germans out of Ukraine:

“Today in schools, from TV screens, from the pages of newspapers, from the Internet, every hour and every minute the grandchildren and children of the collaborators who rushed to the helm of power [the coup of 2014 – ed] instil into us and our children that it was precisely those who were waiting in the wings near the Nazis [OUN-UPA – ed] who are indeed the true winners and fighters against Nazism. I won’t be wordy. I will simply remind with photo documents who liberated Ukraine and how”.

“Today is the Day of the liberation of Ukraine from German-fascist invaders. And no matter how the new government tries to force on us the ‘correct heroes’, it is impossible to kill the genetic memory of the people. If we don’t allow them do it. Dedicate 5 minutes today to your children. Describe to them that horrifying war,” urges the blogger Ruslan Bizyaev.

And the host of theNewsOneTV channel (which the authorities threaten to shut down) Diana Panchenko published a short, but quite understandable congratulations: “Happy Liberation Day, friends! We’re strong. We will breakthrough!”.

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