Volodymyr Zelensky supports granting special status to Poles in Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelensky supports granting special status to Poles in Ukraine

A bill to grant special status to Poles in Ukraine was presented to the Ukrainian parliament by President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday (July 11). This initiative comes as Poland commemorates the anniversary of a massacre perpetrated by a Ukrainian nationalist formation during the Second World War.

The law project “On the Establishment of Legal and Social Guarantees for Citizens of the Republic of Poland in the Territory of Ukraine” is a gesture of gratitude to the Polish people for their support for Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, the president’s office said.

“Let this be a singular gesture on these historical issues which are very difficult to address”commented Polish President Andrzej Duda, quoted by Wprost magazine.

Mr Duda was referring to the massacre of the Polish minority in Volhynia, eastern Galicia, by the nationalist paramilitary formation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which took place from 1943 to 1945. Historians say up to 100 000 Poles were murdered there.

July 11 is for Poland a day of remembrance for what is often called in Polish culture “The Volhynian Massacre”. This year, however, voices have been raised calling on the country to forego any commemoration of that day, so as not to exacerbate tensions between Poles and the many Ukrainian refugees, some of whom consider the UPA leader, Stepan Bandera, like a hero.

The Polish Institute of Remembrance (IPN) nevertheless decided that the commemorative events should continue. “The tragedy of Ukraine does not exempt us from commemorating (the victims of the UPA crime)”said Adam Siwek, director of the IPN office in charge of the commemoration of the fights and the martyrdoms.

As part of the national commemoration, Mr. Duda spoke about the current situation between Poland and Ukraine. “It’s not about revenge”he underlined, specifying that“There are no Poles who don’t know about the massacre of the Volhynians, and they still receive Ukrainians in their homes, reach out to them. »

Poland wants kyiv to take responsibility for the massacre and allow the exhumation of the Polish victims.

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