Ukrainian nationalists protest at new Polish law
Some 100 protesters gathered outside the Polish embassy in Kyiv on Monday, demonstrating against Warsaw’s plans to penalise anyone who denies crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists until 1950.
Protests organised by Ukraine’s nationalist Svoboda party were also held outside Polish consulates in Lviv and in four other cities.
The demonstrations came after the Polish parliament backed a new law would allow criminal proceedings to be launched against anyone who denies crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists between 1925 and 1950, such as the Volhynia Massacre during World War II, a black page in Polish-Ukrainian relations.
The Polish bill “humiliates Ukraine’s national dignity,” Svoboda said. The bill has been criticised by Ukraine’s president, prime minister and foreign minister.
Between March 1943 and the end of 1944, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) carried out mass killings in Nazi German-occupied Poland, according to Poland’s IPN, which is charged with prosecuting crimes against the Polish nation.
The IPN has said that some 100,000 Poles died in the massacres, mainly women and children as men had already been subjected to mass deportations and repressions both by Soviet and Nazi authorities by the time the massacres started.
The Svoboda party did not enter the Ukrainian parliament in the last elections, gaining just over 4.5 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, the new Polish bill has also soured relations between Poland and Israel.
In Poland, the planned new law is seen as a way of fighting the use of the phrase “Polish death camps”, which many say implies Poland's involvement in the Holocaust.
Polish government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcińska has said: “It was the Germans who attacked Poland, while the Poles and Jews were the victims”.
“There were no Polish death camps, no Polish concentration camps or Polish extermination camps. We must set the record straight by continually explaining and clarifying things,” she added.
GermanDeathCamps.info, a new website aimed at debunking misconceptions about Poland’s role in the Holocaust, has been launched by Polish Radio.
The Polish bill needs to be signed by President Andrzej Duda before it enters into law.