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Poland expects Ukraine to admit truth about Ukrainian nationalists’ crimes in Volhynia

July 11, 14:47 UTC+3 WARSAW
The Polish Senate earlier passed a resolution, urging the Sejm, the country’s lower house, to recognize as genocide the mass killings of Poles committed by Ukrainian nationalists during World War II
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Polish President Andrzej Duda

Polish President Andrzej Duda

© AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

WARSAW, July 11. /TASS/. The relations between Poland and Ukraine should be based on the historical truth, Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Monday.

The Polish president made this statement after laying flowers at the monument to the Poles massacred by Ukrainian nationalists during World War II in Volhynia, a historical region in the north-west of modern Ukraine.

"Historical truth is needed as good mutual relations can be built only on its basis," the Polish leader said.

"This truth has to be pronounced and shown from both sides," he added.

"Possibly, this will be hard for many to do but this has to be done," the Polish president said.

The Polish leader said he had discussed this issue with Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko.

"Some things have to be admitted but, on the other hand, certain things have to be given up," Duda said.

"I hope changes will take place in the legal provisions adopted some time ago in Ukraine as this is necessary for historical truth, for finding it out," the Polish leader said.

Polish Senate’s resolution and Poroshenko’s response

The Polish Senate, the parliament’s upper house, passed a resolution on Friday, urging the Sejm, the country’s lower house, to recognize as genocide the mass killings of Poles committed by Ukrainian nationalists during World War Two.

The Senate urged the Sejm to announce July 11 a national day of memory for the victims of genocide committed by Ukrainian nationalists against the citizens of the Second Polish Republic (Polish: Druga Rzeczpospolita), which existed between the two world wars from 1918 to 1945.

On the same day, Ukrainian President Poroshenko who was on a visit to Warsaw visited the place of the Poles’ mass killings and paid tribute to their memory.

A demonstration took place in Warsaw on July 7. Its participants demanded that the actions of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (the OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army as its military wing in Volhynia during WWII be recognized as genocide. The action’s organizers said that any ideology glorifying Ukraine’s nationalist leader Stepan Bandera should be banned while the cult of Bandera and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army were a spat in the face of the Poles. The same day, the Kiev City Council voted for renaming the Moscow Avenue in Kiev into the Avenue of Stepan Bandera.

Volhynia tragedy

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (the OUN) is an ultra-right political organization, which operated predominantly in the territory of Western Ukraine during WWII. The OUN used extremist methods, including terrorist acts, to achieve its goals of creating an independent Ukraine.

In collaboration with German reconnaissance bodies, the OUN fought against the Soviet rule. In 1943, the OUN established the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (the UPA) (banned in Russia).

In February 1943, Ukrainian nationalists started mass extermination of the Polish population of Volhynia.

The campaign reached its peak in July-August 1943. On July 11, 1943, the units of the OUN - UPA attacked about 100 Polish populated localities and killed about 100,000 Poles, mainly women, children and old people.

The killings’ main purpose was to purge all non-Ukrainians from a future Ukrainian state.

The Polish Sejm passed a resolution in 2013 on the 70th anniversary of the Volhynia tragedy, calling the events "ethnic cleansing with the signs of genocide."

In 2015, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada recognized the activity of the OUN-UPA as the struggle for Ukraine’s independence.

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