Sunday, May 12, 2024

Moscow Kept Bandera’s Two Sisters in Siberian Exile for Almost 50 Years

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 10 – Evidence of just how deep Moscow’s hostility runs to Ukrainians who resist Russia or even those who are close relatives of those who do is highlighted by the case of Oksana and Marta Bandera, two sisters of Ukrainian partisan leader Stepan Bandera, who were kept in Siberian exile decades after others Stalin sent there were allowed to return.

            Olga Sorokina, a journalist for the SibReal portal, tells their story, no easy task given that the number of those who knew them is rapidly dwindling and the Russian FSB still refuses to release their files to researchers  (

            Marta, born in 1907, and Oksana, born in 1917, both became teachers in their native Western Ukraine. They were arrested along with their father, who was executed, and then sent into exile in Krasnoyarsk Kray. They were forced to work but not given food and survived only as the result of the assistance of friends.

            In 1960, the two were freed from their status as “special settlers,” the Soviet term for exiles. But in contrast to most others, the two Ukrainian women had a special note placed in their documents that this action did not mean that they had the right to return to the place from which they had been exiled.

            Thus, the two Ukrainian women, whose only “crime” was being related to Stepan Bandera, remained in exile, Marta until her death in 1983 and Oksana until 1990 when friends of the family came to her place of exile and brought her and the remains of her sister home to Ukraine.

            Thus, Marta spent 42 years in exile; and Oksana, 49, terms far longer than they would have received from any crime except being related to Stepan. In Ukraine, Oksana received many honors and much support. She died in 2008. The sister’s brother, Stepan, was murdered in Munich by a KGB agent in 1959.

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