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Dissident movement in Ukraine
Glossary

UPA (UKRAINIAN RESISTANCE ARMY)

21.11.2006

The UPA [Ukrainska Povstanska Armia]  [The Ukrainian Resistance Army, also known as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army] was a military formation under the command of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council [Ukrainska Holovna Vyzvolnya Rada]. The official date for the creation of the UPA is considered to be 14 October 1942, “Pokrova” [the Church Day of the Protection of the Mother of God], although the announcement that the army had been formed was made in spring 1943.  The Army was formed on the basis of military units of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), and was led by General Roman Shukhevych. The army had up to 100 thousand people (with 40 thousand fighters), and enjoyed widespread support from the population.  The UPA waged a partisan war against Nazi, Polish and Soviet occupiers.  They obstructed the taking of young people as forced labour to Germany, the moving by the Poles of Ukrainians from their land and finally the deportations to the eastern regions of the USSR which were carried out by the Soviet authorities.

After the division in 1945 of Western Ukraine between Poland and the USSR, huge military formations of the Soviet Army and Polish military forces were used to crush the UPA.  In fighting the UPA, the Soviet authorities resorted to provocation, with special units of the NKVD [renamed MGB] pretending to be UPA fighters, terrorizing the local population. At the same time, the local population which supported the UPA fighters (largely rural people in Western Ukraine)  were subjected to mass-scale repressions as “traitors” [cf. Article 54-1 of the Criminal Code of the UkrSSR). Some units of the UPA managed to fight their way to the West in 1947.

The last units of the UPA on the territory of the UkrSSR were liquidated only in 1954, and individual fighters were active until 1956 and later.

Imprisoned UPA fighters were the force behind the uprisings in the labour camps at the beginning of the 1950s. They were to have an ideological and moral influence on the Shestydesyatnyky and the human rights activists serving labour camp sentences during the 1960s and 1970s.

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