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Russian lawmaker expects more countries to recognize Volhynia massacre as genocide

July 22, 18:18 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Lower House of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) has passed a resolution calling the crimes of the OUN - UPA (organization banned in Russia) against the Poles in Volhynia in 1943-1944 genocide
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Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Deputy Speaker of the Polish Parliament Cezary Grabarczyk with flowers in Kiselin, Ukraine to pay homage to the Poles murdered, in the 70th anniversary of the Volhynia tragedy, 2013

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Deputy Speaker of the Polish Parliament Cezary Grabarczyk with flowers in Kiselin, Ukraine to pay homage to the Poles murdered, in the 70th anniversary of the Volhynia tragedy, 2013

© EPA/JACEK TURCZYK

MOSCOW, July 22. /TASS/. Poland, which has recognized the mass extermination of ethnic Poles by Ukrainian radical nationalists during World War II as acts of genocide, may be followed by other countries, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Friday.

"Poland’s Sejm [the lower parliament house] has followed the Senate and recognized the massacre of Poles in Volyn (Volhynia) as genocide. Now, it is Poland’s official position. It is not ruled out that other countries might eventually join it," Frants Klintsevich, the first deputy chairman of the defense and security committee of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house, told journalists.

Strange reaction

He said Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko’s reaction to the resolution of the Polish parliament was "at least strange." Poroshenko expressed regret over the Polish parliament’s decision, which, he said, "many will want to use for political speculation."

"The reaction is strange because, as a matter of fact, neither Ukraine nor its people have anything to do with the tragic developments of 1943," Klintsevich said, adding he is sure "the recent appearance of Stepan Bandera Avenue in Kiev is not by far a historic obsession of Russophobically-minded members of the local legislature."

"First of all, it was an act of self-identification of the Ukrainian authorities or, at least, those forces it is resting on. As a matter of fact, they have proclaimed butchers and rapists as a symbol of the struggle for Ukraine’s independence and the Polish parliament unbiasedly pointed to this fact having recognized the Volhynia massacre as genocide," the Russian lawmaker said.

The Polish parliament’s resolution "is a slap in the face to official Kiev," he said, adding that a proper reaction to it is to be "resolution and open dissociation from nationalists, both of the past and of the present."

Kiev honoring criminals as heroes

Another Russian lawmaker, expressed regret that Ukraine kept on honoring the leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) as national heroes despite the fact that these organizations’ activities had been recognized as criminal in Russia and in Poland.

"Following Russia, Poland’s Sejm has recognized on Friday the Ukrainian Insurgent Army as a criminal organization. It is encouraging that we on the same side of the truth with the Poles at least in our views on historic events," Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the international committee of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house, wrote on his Facebook account.

At the same time, he expressed regret that "this organization is still in high esteem in Ukraine and it leaders have been declared national heroes."

Polish Sejm’s resolution

Earlier on Friday, the Lower House of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) passed a resolution recognizing the crimes of the OUN - UPA (a nationalist organization banned in Russia) against the Poles in Volhynia in 1943-1944 as genocide. The bill was voted in by 432 deputies, with no one against and 10 abstentions.

"The genocide committed from 1943 to 1945 resulted in the massacres of more than 100,000 citizens of the Second Polish Republic, mostly peasants. Their exact number is still unknown, and many of them have not been buried with dignity to date," the Sejm resolution says. "The memories of the victims of the crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists in the 1940s have not been duly cherished until now, and mass murders were not called genocide in accordance with historical truth."

Polish parliamentarians also mentioned repressions committed by the Poles. "While recalling the atrocities of Ukrainian nationalists, one cannot turn a blind eye to reprisal actions in Ukrainian villages that too claimed the lives of civilians," the document said.

Volhynia massacre

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), an ultra-right movement that operated in western Ukraine during World War II, fought against Soviet power alongside with the Third Reich. In 1943, it organized the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

In February 1943, the Ukrainian nationalists launched a campaign to exterminate the Polish population of Volhynia. These events culminated in the OUN - UPA forces’ attack on some 100 Polish settlements on July 11, 1943. The ultranationalists massacred about 100,000 people, mainly women, children and the elderly. The killings’ main purpose was to purge all non-Ukrainians from a future Ukrainian state.

In 2013, the Polish Sejm adopted a resolution on the 70th anniversary of the Volhynia massacre, where these events were called "ethnic cleansing with the signs of genocide."

However, the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) in 2015 recognized the OUN - UPA activities as the struggle for Ukraine’s independence.

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