by Roman Woronowycz
Kyiv Press Bureau
KYIV - The first television documentary on Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian nationalist hero and by many accounts the most charismatic Ukrainian national figure of the 20th century, aired on Ukrainian television on December 20.
Bandera led the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists through the 1940s that fought against both Soviet and German occupation until his death in 1959 in Munich, Germany, at the hands of a Soviet KGB assassin.
The film,.titled "The Three Loves of Stepan Bandera," contains rarely seen footage of Bandera not long after he and his young followers split from the main body of the OUN to form their own organization of the same name. It also shows the funeral of the political leader after he was assassinated with a spray of the poisonous gas, cyanide, by KGB agent Bohdan Stashynsky.
Mr. Stashynsky, who later turned himself in to West German authorities and was convicted of the murder, stated during his trial that the assassination had been directed personally by the head of the Soviet KGB.
The producer of the film is Yurii Lukanov, a journalist who is already known in Ukraine for his book on current Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.
In an interview with The Weekly, Mr. Lukanov said the film's title is a reference to the three women that Bandera loved. His romances with them roughly paralleled the three stages of his political involvement: the time to the schism within the OUN that Bandera led; the years of World War II; and the post-war years spent in Munich.
Mr. Lukanov said the idea for the documentary came after he met with a German journalist, who gave him a book on the life of Bandera - a life that he found compelling.
"I decided that Ukrainians needed to know about the life of Bandera," said Mr. Lukanov. "He lived in a tragic time of Ukrainian history. An awful, awful historical period. Brother killing brother."
He said that Ukrainians too often have been prone to destroying and desecrating
their myths and legends. "The Soviets said Bandera was a bandit; people say that Mazepa was a traitor and that Khmelnytsky sold Ukraine to Moscow. People must learn our history. It is a tragic history, but it is ours and we must learn from it," said Mr. Lukanov.
Convincing financial backers that this was a worthy project was among the more difficult tasks that Mr. Lukanov undertook. He said that no independent businessmen whom he contacted wanted to touch the project after Mr. Lukanov mentioned his subject matter. "Some were repelled at the simple mention of the name Bandera," explained the film's producer.
He had little problem with Ukraine's government, although at first the ministry that controls Ukraine's jail system refused to acknowledge that Bandera had been confined in a Lviv jail that Mr. Lukanov wanted to film.
Mr. Lukanov obtained much of the original documentary footage from the Ukrainian National Museum in London. England, and from Stepan Oleskiw, who was among the youngest members of Bandera's inner circle in the
"Perhaps this was the hardest th. i : I had to convince MrOleskiw that out to butcher the legacy of Bandera" explained Mr. Lukanov
He had less trouble convincing the television program "Vikna," carried on the ICTV channel, which agreed to broadcast the documentary film. Although "Vikna" declined to finance Mr. Lukanov's travels to Munich and London for on-site filming. which took four days, it did agree to provide him a production crew and editing support.
He said the crew that worked with Mr. Lukanov, a Russian cameraman and a Greek director, gave him a better focus on what he wanted to say. "They were less interested in the political and ideological viewpoint," explained Mr. Lukanov, "For them the subject matter was interesting in itself."
For information on obtaining the film for broadcast write to: Yurii Lukanov, Prospekt Hryhorenka 36, Apt. 230, Kyiv 253 141, Ukraine
THE UKRAINIAN WEEKLY SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27, 1998