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KIEV, July 22. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko expressed regret on Friday at the decision of the Polish Sejm to recognize crimes of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) against the Poles in Volyn (Volhynia) in 1943-1944 as genocide.
"I regret the decision of the Polish Sejm. I know that many will want to use it for political speculation. However, we must return to the John Paul II commandments II - we forgive and ask for forgiveness. Only by common steps it is possible to achieve Christian reconciliation and unity. Only together we can clarify all the facts of the tragic pages of our common history," he twitted.
Earlier on Friday, the Lower House of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) passed a resolution in which the crimes of the OUN - UPA (organization banned in the Russian Federation) against the Poles in Volyn in 1943-1944 are called 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.
The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) is an ultra-right political organization that was active mainly in Western Ukraine. To achieve its goal of creating an independent Ukraine, OUN resorted to the use of extremist methods, including terror acts.
During World War II, OUN in cooperation with the German intelligence agencies began the struggle against the Soviet power. In 1943, it organized the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA, banned in Russia).
In February 1943, the Ukrainian nationalists launched a campaign to exterminate the Polish population of Volyn. 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 Volyn tragedy, 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 the independence of Ukraine.