Polish MFA: Bandera's heroization in Ukraine poisons bilateral relations

Kiev's heroization of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists poisons Polish-Ukrainian relations, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Bartosz Cihotsky said in an interview with Evropeiskaya Pravda ("European Truth").

As an example, the diplomat cited the story of a Polish nurse who tore up a Ukrainian woman's document, seeing that the latter had been registered on the street named after Stepan Bandera (leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement).

"This is a regrettable incidence, but I would like to intercede. We are not aware of the family history of this person, perhaps her relatives were killed by Bandera's followers," the diplomat said. "This shows that Ukraine's heroization of the people whom we consider criminals continues to poison our relations."

According to Cihotsky, the recently adopted law on the National Memory Institute in Poland, which placed the leaders of the Ukrainian nationalist movement outside the law and caused outrage in Kiev, does not pose a threat to the Ukrainian citizens in Poland.

"It is aimed only at covering the dark pages of the history of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)," he said. "After all, Ukraine has a law on the prohibition of criticism of the UPA. And it scares the Poles who travel to Ukraine and limits the freedom of scientific research on the criminal pages of the UPA history."

The issue of Kiev's reluctance to recognize the responsibility of the Ukrainian nationalists for the massacres of the Poles in the first half of the twentieth century has become a major irritant in relations between the two countries in recent years. The sharp aggravation occurred after the current Ukrainian leadership had recognized the activities of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA) as a struggle for the country's independence. After Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko signed in May 2015 a special law on this subject, monuments to nationalist leaders Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevich began to be established, streets are named in their honour, memorable actions and torchlight processions are held throughout Ukraine.

On February 1 this year, the Polish Senate passed a law, according to which a penalty of up to three years' imprisonment is provided for denying the crimes of the Ukrainian nationalists, in particular the massacres of the Poles in 1942-1945 in Volhynia. According to various estimates, up to 200 thousand Poles were killed then. In 2016, the Polish Senate recognized the Volyn massacre as genocide.

DONi News Agency