Without Bandera: Poland Will Test Entering Ukrainians for Sympathy for Radicals

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The Polish authorities intend to find out how Ukrainians travelling to the country perceive radical nationalist organisations. Citizens of Ukraine who want to stay in Poland from three months to three years must give an assessment of Stepan Bandera’s activity, UPA, and also to express their opinion about the Volyn massacre. At the same time, loyalty and even a neutral position in relation to nationalists can result in not being allowed to enter the territory of Poland. The material of RT concerns the new stage of the fight of Warsaw against “Bandera’s ideology”.

Ukrainians who intend to acquire the right to stay in Poland for a long period of time will be verified for “sympathy” for radical groups. In particular, the authorities of Poland will ask Ukrainian applicants about their attitude towards Stepan Bandera, UPA, and the Volyn massacre. This was reported by the Polish “Rzeczpospolita” publication.

Ukrainians who want to travel to Poland for a period of three months up to three years for work or study will be obliged to answer these questions. Thus, an attitude towards Ukrainian nationalists that is insufficiently critical can result in being denied entry to the territory of the country. Moreover, in this case even the existence of Polish roots won’t even help. As Rzeczpospolita reports, at least one such case is already known.

According to the publication, the employees of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs weren’t satisfied by the answer to the question about UPA.

“I’ve never been in these organisations, therefore I don’t know. Everyone has their own truth, it is said that they were engaged in pillaging on the territory of Poland and Ukraine. I never dug deeply into it,” stated the Ukrainian.

When asked about the Volyn massacre, he stated that a large number of people perishing is the only authentically known fact.

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According to the Polish authorities, such an answer testifies to the citizen of Ukraine knowing about the activity of OUN-UPA, but he doesn’t want to speak badly about these organisations.

As a reminder, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) operated during World War II against Soviet partisans, groups of the Polish underground, and then against the fascist occupational administration that it originally cooperated with. OUN-UPA took an active part in the Polish-Ukrainian ethnic conflict, and also became the organiser of the Volyn massacre — one of the most bloody episodes of this standoff, as a result of which, according to different estimates, from 30,000 to 80,000 Poles were killed. The Polish Sejm recognised these events as genocide.

At the legislative level

At the beginning of February the President of Poland Andrzej Duda signed a law providing criminal liability for propaganda of “Bandera’s ideology”, denial of the Volyn massacre, and accusations of the Polish people participating in the Holocaust. Warsaw emphasised that the document is designed to not allow distortions of history.

According to the new law, punishment in the form of a penalty or imprisonment for a period of up to three years can become the result of using the expression “Polish extermination camps” and other statements that can be interpreted as attempt to portray Poles as accomplices of the crimes of nazi Germany, including the genocide of European Jewry. The same punishment is prescribed for propaganda of Bandera’s ideology and denial of the Volyn massacre.

Because of the sharp criticism towards the Polish law made by the side of Ukraine, the US, and Israel, changes can be made to its text. The Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki declared on Friday that now the law is under the consideration of the Constitutional court.

“It’s possible that there will be a certain specification of some points, so that people who may have some fears about how this law will be interpreted won’t be afraid that there will be a threat to freedom of speech or to the freedom of creative activity,” explained the Polish Prime Minister.

Ukraine’s response

Kiev reacted to the adoption of the law by Poland on “Bandera’s ideology” rather sharply. The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko called it unacceptable. Moreover, Ukrainians started being afraid for the life of their compatriots in the neighboring state. The Institute of National Memory of Ukraine stated that Warsaw can’t guarantee Ukrainian historians who are in Poland the preservation of freedom of speech and even personal security.

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At the same time, in Ukraine deputies from the nationalist party “Svobodaregistered a legislative initiative in the Kiev City Council, which allows the red-black flag of OUN-UPA to be used on holidays together with the State flag.

Thus, on January 30th, 2018, the decision to use the flag of nationalists on an equal basis with the State one was already adopted by the Lvov regional council, and on February 2nd — the Ternopil city council.

“With this decision we show that we won’t allow other countries to rewrite the pages of our history. And once again we officially affirm at the city level respect for our heroes and their contribution to the fight for the independence of Ukraine,” declared the mayor of Ternopil Sergey Nadala.

Besides this, in response to the new Polish law Ukrainian nationalists carried out pickets at the Embassies of Poland in Kiev, Vinnytsia, Lvov, Lutsk, Odessa, and Kharkov. They demanded to cancel the introduced rules.

The former Minister of Defence of Ukraine Aleksandr Kuzmuk went even further, and on the air of the TV channel “112 Ukraine” threatened Poland with an armed conflict. In his opinion, Ukrainians working in Poland can “grab spears” if Warsaw continues to settle “historical scores”.

As a reminder, in December, 2017, in Ukraine it was decided to create a special Polish-Ukrainian commission, which will examine the resolution of historical conflicts.

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