Rada deeply concerned by accepting law on Bandera ideology in Poland, urges President Duda to intervene

The Verkhovna Rada has adopted a statement that expresses disappointment and concern over the adoption of amendments to the law on the Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation and other legislative acts, and also called on Polish President, Andrzej Duda, to intervene in the situation.

Draft resolution (No. 7553) on the draft resolution on the statement of the Ukrainian parliament in connection with the adoption by the Sejmas and the Senate of Poland the changes to the law on the National Memory Institute at the Verkhovna Rada session on Tuesday was supported by 242 people's deputies out of 226 minimally required, an Interfax-Ukraine correspondent reported.

The proposed statement says, among other things, that "the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is disappointed and deeply concerned by the Sejmas resolution of January 26 and the Senate resolution of February 1, 2018, to make changes to the law on the Institute of National Remembrance - the Commission for the Investigation of Crimes against the Polish people, and other statutory acts, imposing criminal liability for the denial of 'crimes by Ukrainian nationalists' and giving a biased and contradictory definition of this notion, which paves way to manipulations and a rise of anti-Ukrainian tendencies in Polish society."

A frank dialogue, a free of exchange of opinions, and academic freedom thus found themselves under a threat of criminal prosecution, which is incompatible with democratic values, the Ukrainian parliamentarians said.

"The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine will not accept and rejects the policy of double standards and an imposition of ideas about the Ukrainian people's collective responsibility, as well as Polish attempts to equate the actions of all fighters for the independence of Ukraine with the crimes by two totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, the Nazi and the Communist ones," the draft statement said.

In particular, the changes passed by both houses of the Polish parliament contradict the content and the spirit of the Ukraine-Poland strategic partnership, as well as the principles agreed by both sides, including in their Declaration of remembrance and solidarity of October 20, 2016.

"Our biggest concern is about the fact that the stoking of anti-Ukrainian sentiments and the creation of an atmosphere of pressure and intimidation can directly impact on the rights and freedoms of almost a million of Ukrainians who today are migrant workers in Poland, toiling for its economic growth among other things. This topic is of exceptional significance and a subject of close scrutiny for Ukrainian parliament. We are also concerned by the demonstrative acts of destruction of Ukrainian monuments in Poland, attacks on participants in religious festivals and members of the Ukrainian community in Poland, the ban on cultural events and the chauvinistic rhetoric," the draft document said.

The Ukrainian parliament feels solidarity with international community in denouncing the Holocaust denial and urges Poland to be open and constructive to further develop the bilateral relationship, the draft said.

"We are urging the president of the Republic of Poland [Andrzej Duda] to exercise his constitutional powers and, together with the Sejm and Senate of the Republic of Poland, to return balance, rationality and well-wishing to the Ukrainian-Polish relations," the statement said.

In the early hours of February 1 Poland's senate passed a bill on the institute of national remembrance, imposing a penalty for denying "the crimes of Ukrainian nationalists" and banning the "Bandera ideology" in Poland (concerns the definition of crimes of Ukrainian nationalists and Ukrainian organizations which collaborated with the Third Reich).

The bill will become law once signed by President Andrzej Duda.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said he was concerned by the Polish senate's decision.