Ukrainian Nationalism Threatens Poland
Vladislav GULEVICH | 24.05.2015 | OPINION

Ukrainian Nationalism Threatens Poland

Vasyl Pavlyuk, the Consulate General of Ukraine in Lublin, met the students of Maria Curie - Sklodowska Lublin University. Unexpectedly he was given a hard time. First, All-Polish Youth (Polish Młodzież Wszechpolska), a nationalistic Polish Youth Organization, held a conference near the University building. They said that meeting with Vasyl Pavlyuk was the same thing as meeting the supporters of Hitler, Himmler and other Nazi criminals. Then the protesters moved inside the University to see the Ukrainian Consulate General and raise the posters «Murderers! Shame! No Glory!» 

The appointment of Vasyl Pavlyuk evokes concern among Poles. He is a member of ultra-right Svoboda political party. In 2011 he was a high standing official in Lviv to support a resolution which declared Bandera and Shukhevych national heroes. The city council deputies said the regime of Yanukovych would be washed away by «the people’s revolution under the Bandera’s banner». 

Vasyl Pavlyuk condemned the decision of Polish parliament to honor the victims of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA) and SS division Galicia. He opposed the idea to dismantle a memorial devoted to OUN militants that was clandestinely erected in the Biskids Mountains. 

After the meeting with students Vasyl Pavlyuk tried to take revenge. He called the students «Kremlin agents» in a TV program. This is the favorite stock phrase of Ukrainian nationalists in Poland. On October 14, Group of Ukrainian students studying in Poland made a photo to show them holding an UPA flag in one of parking places in the city Przemyśl. It made people furious. The case was reported to Polish prosecutor office. It attracted media attention. The Ukrainian diaspora made float a concocted story about an agent of Russian security service who provoked the students into making the picture. 

The Polish Institute of National Remembrance does the same thing. Some of its researchers are Ukrainians by origin. They obstruct the research on the crimes committed by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Instead they offer apologetic works glorifying the OUN-UPA. The radicals who were made face justice are called «the victims of Polish Communist regime». 

Take, for example, Grzegorz Motyka, a Polish historian, specializing in the history of the Polish-Ukrainian relations. He is also a member of the Council of the Institute of National Remembrance since 2011. In his works he tries to balance the activities of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the Polish government at the time so that the ultimate picture would tell a story of exchanging claims and accusations. The both sides appear to be equally guilty. The very names of the works prove the point: Masters and Punishers («Pany i rezuny. Współpraca AK-WiN i UPA 1945–1947»), From Volyn Massacre to Operation Vistula («Od rzezi wołyńskiej do akcji Wisła»), Special Services of Poland and Czechoslovakia and Ukrainians («Służby Bezpieczeństwa Polski i Czechosłowacji wobec Ukraińców 1945–1989»). He calls Banderites «Ukrainian partisans» (Ukrainian guerillas) or «soldiers of Ukrainian Insurgent Army». The scholar does his best to avoid the issue of Ukrainian nationalists’ collaboration with the Third Reich. 

Grzegorz Motyka sets examples of the actions undertaken by Warsaw to compare with the crimes committed by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army. He condemns the Volyn massacre. At the same time he points out that the both sides perpetrated acts of extreme brutality. According to him, the massacre was provoked by the policy conducted by Warsaw before the war. To keep the balance he condemned the Operation Vistula - the codename for the 1947 forced resettlement of post-war Poland’s Ukrainian minority to the Recovered Territories carried out by Polish Communist authorities in order to remove the support base for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. It makes pay more attention on the activities of Ukrainian diaspora united into the Association of Ukrainians in Poland. The organization has its own weekly Our Voice (Nasze Słowo). Warsaw supports it and provides funds from the state budget. There are many ethnic Ukrainians among Polish officials of different grades, including the descendants of those who fought in the ranks of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army. There are sympathizers as well. For instance, Marek Kuchciński (Law and Justice), the Deputy Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Semoniak, Janusz Onyszkiewicz, a member of European Parliament and former Minister of Defense (his uncle served in the ranks of Ukrainian Insurgent Army in the ranks of Colonel. He was sentenced to death in 1950). 

Ultra-right radicals continue to increase their presence in the Polish foreign missions. Andrei Deshitsa, the former acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine, is known an ardent supporter of Bandera and Shukhevych. Aleksandr Bacik, the Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Przemyśl, holds the same views. Ukrainian nationalists have many times mentioned their territorial claims to Poland. They want some powiats (counties) returned to Ukraine. Ukrainian diplomats never tried to reject the claims. 

Ukrainians in Poland gradually get radicalized. The Ukrainian school in Przemyśl marks the day of Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The events to commemorate the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army take place at the cemetery where the militants are buried with young people present. Aleksandr Bacik and the Association of Ukrainians in Poland promote the idea of turning Przemyśl into a Ukrainian capital inside Poland. They support the idea of relocating the victims of Operation Vistula to make live near the Ukraine-Poland border. 

Polish Ukrainians are often visited by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists (for instance, Irina Fahrion, an ultra-nationalist MP from Svoboda party) to boost ideological influence in the eastern part of Poland. 

The growing influence of ultra-right nationalists in the west of Ukraine may entail the emergence of a serious problem for Poland while the number of those who support the views espoused by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Ukrainian Insurgent Army keeps on growing among Ukrainians residing on Polish soil. 

Tags: OUN / UPA  Poland  Ukraine 

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