The document was registered on April 11, 2013. The draft resolution suggests recognizing the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the SS Galicia Division and the Ukrainian police in German service as criminal organizations. The document emphasizes that only the specified organizations and not the entire Ukrainian people are accused of the genocide. The resolution also provides for announcement of July 11 as the Genocide Victims Day.
The explanatory note to the document says that the cult of Stepan Bandera and UPA becomes more and more popular in Western Ukraine. According to Poles, criminal terrorist actions of these organizations have been slurred over and the truth is being denied. Poland is also concerned by the growing popularity of extreme right party "Freedom" (Svoboda), which imposes ideology and traditions of the above-mentioned organizations.
ForUm has asked historians, political scientists and experts whether Poles have a right to recognize Ukrainian organizations as criminal and how it may influence relations between the states.
Yuri Shukhevich, Ukrainian political figure, Hero of Ukraine, son of UPA commander-in-chief Roman Shukhevich:
- Adoption of this resolution is a huge political mistake. Poles withhold that the calls and orders on genocide of Polish population were coming from marshal Tymoshenko in 1939, right after September 17. He called upon people to take scythes and pitchforks and to kill Polish oppressors. Bolsheviks were killing heads of Polish administrations, police, army and intelligentsia, were sending people to Kazakhstan and Siberia.
Moreover, Poles should not forget that together with soviet guerillas they started what we know now as Volyn massacre. There is no single document proving that OUN UPA called and ordered to kill Polish population. Yes, there were separate incidents, especially when Krajow's army crossed Bug and tried to gain a foothold on our territory. We simply could not permit it. There were fights, and not only Polish population suffered, but Ukrainians as well.
In addition, there is Russia. Moscow agencies carry out propaganda in Poland and in other countries. Recall Euro-2012 and the scary stories that were told around, especially in Germany. They also incite Poland into it. Why? They want to discredit Ukraine. Moreover, Poles should not forget how jointly with Moscow they were taking against Ukraine and were dividing our territories along Zbruch River in 1921.
Poles also should not forget the genocide they carried out against Germans during "Visla" operation: 11 million Germans were banished across the Oder. Mass relocation is also genocide.
Anatoly Chaikovski, Doctor of Historical Sciences, professor:
- Every country has a right to estimate history as it thinks it happened. Speaking about the draft bill, Poles have more than enough grounds to name OUN and UPA as criminal organizations. Radical nationalists do not recognize the fact of mass extermination of Poles, but the rest of the civilized population is horrified by those actions.
As for "Freedom" union, I believe the party which has won seats in the parliament for the first time should think not about its radical views, but to revise the actions of its predecessors and to draw conclusions for the future. If they do not do this, they risk descending to the level of Bandera and his political community. There is nothing in Bandera's times to be proud of, as those activists had too many crimes on their conscience.
Not all Bandera's and OUN followers should be painted with the same brush. Some of them were decent people, who just tried to make sense of all that. However, it was the leaders - Bandera, Shukhevich, Stetsko and other - to define the policy and strategy of OUN UPA, and we all know the results of it.
Kost Bondarenko, expert, political scientist, chairman of the Institute of Ukrainian politics:
- Not all documents submitted to Sejm are adopted. Thus, only when this draft bill is passed we can start speaking about Ukraine's reaction to it.
As for historical part of the issue, every side has its own truth. Ukrainians and Poles agreed long time ago not to argue about complex moments of the past and not to split our peoples. Yes, those things happened in the past, but the past should be left in the past.
Myroslav Popovych, director of the Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, academician:
- There is nothing extraordinary in the fact that any country, including Poland, has left and right forces. And it is not the first or last time when Polish right wing comes out with such aggressive initiative.
This story is full of unclear moments, which still need to be examined. However, events of the past times cannot be criminalized from the point of present times. We are not successors of either Beria or Bandera. The events happened long time ago, and only those who committed those crimes should be held responsible. At the same time, estimating the crimes themselves, we should be ultimately honest regardless of who we speak - our people or their people.
If Sejm adopts the draft bill it will affect the relations between Ukraine and Poland, and it will show that our countries have unsettled issues to deal with. I hope it will not come to this, but first let's wait for the results of the voting.
Volodymyr Vyatrovych, historian, publicist, researcher of the national liberation movement, former head of SBU archives:
- It is wrong when politicians estimate historical events, especially events of another country. Ukrainians and Poles have some dark pages in common history, and the best way to preserve good relations is not judge each other's past.
The draft bill submitted to the Sejm is rather one-sided. It condemns crimes of Ukrainian insurgents and praises the activity of Polish rebels. In fact, both sides repeatedly committed crimes during the conflict, which later turned into a real war between two underground movements. But it does not give the right to recognize either Krajow's army or UPA as criminal organization. War crimes are an integral part of the WWII, and absolutely all armies involved committed them. Discussions being held in Poland about UPA have nothing to do with attempts to understand the tragedy. It is a simple attempt to earn some political dividends.
Moreover, such negative mood of the discussion about UPA and genocide is very advantageous for our north neighbor Russia. It seems like politicians refuse to learn historical lessons and don't want to see that both in 1943 and 2013 the third part may use disagreements between Ukrainians and Poles for its advantage.
Volodymyr Kornylov, political scientist, historian, director of Ukrainian branch of CIS Institute:
- The majority of Ukraine's population also treat UPA as a criminal organization, and in this respect, the draft bill should not affect the relations between two countries. At the same time, western Ukraine is attacked by Bandera's cult, and it is painful. However, all those who consider UPA as heroes of Ukraine, should listen to the Europe's opinion. Europe considers nationalistic collaborationists for who they are - nationalistic collaborationists, and the resolution of the European parliament proves it. It will be useful for lost Ukrainians to study this resolution.
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