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KIEV, Ukraine – For the first time since World War II, Ukrainian partisans celebrated their nationalist army’s creation Sunday with the full approval of the Ukrainian government, despite efforts by angry socialists and communists to break up their gathering. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UPA, battled both Soviet and Nazi forces during the war, and for several years after the war continued to carry out raids against the Soviets and to disrupt efforts to collectivize farms. Since the 1991 Soviet collapse, the former partisans have sought financial and moral recognition similar to what Red Army veterans have long enjoyed. “We needed our government to recognize us and nothing else,” said UPA veteran Stepan Babii, 83, who came to commemorate the anniversary of the army’s creation in 1942. The crowd of several thousand included uniformed veterans, their relatives and many young Ukrainians. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Hostility toward the partisans runs deep in Ukraine because they initially sought support from the Nazis, believing the Germans would grant Ukraine independence. The country was overrun by Nazis before the Soviets drove them out in 1944. An estimated 7 million Ukrainians died in the fighting, and 2.4 million people were sent to Nazi concentration camps. During Soviet times, schoolchildren were taught that members of the insurgent army were enemies of the people and that they committed atrocities alongside Nazi troops. Western-leaning Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree Thursday on celebrating the 65th anniversary and ordered the government to improve medical care and other social benefits for the former partisans. The president – whose father was a Red Army soldier who spent four years in a Nazi camp – called for further study of the historical role played by the 100,000 partisans. Yushchenko has long been trying to win recognition for the partisans, but his efforts have met resistance from communists and Red Army veterans. The question of how to treat the nationalists in Ukrainian history – as freedom fighters or traitors – has polarized Ukraine. The west of the country supports them, while in the Russian-speaking east, support for the Soviet fighters is stronger. Members of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine tried Sunday to prevent the former partisans and their supporters from reaching the central square, and a few were detained while trying to push through police barriers.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!