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Anniversary of Volyn ′genocide′ set to overshadow EU-Ukraine trade talks

Next week marks the 70th anniversary of a date of particular significance in Ukraine history.

By: EBR - Posted: Friday, July 5, 2013

On the eve of the anniversary, the Ukrainian Socialist political party, “Fight” Movement,which was founded in May 2011, has accused the current Ukrainian regime of “trying to forget”  the tragic affairs in Volyn and “not doing anything to stop or prevent” the growth of ultra-nationalistic movements in the country.
On the eve of the anniversary, the Ukrainian Socialist political party, “Fight” Movement,which was founded in May 2011, has accused the current Ukrainian regime of “trying to forget” the tragic affairs in Volyn and “not doing anything to stop or prevent” the growth of ultra-nationalistic movements in the country.

by Martin Banks

Seven decades ago an act of ethnic cleansing took place in which tens of thousands of people perished.

The massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia were part of an operation carried out in Nazi Germany-occupied Poland by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

The worst of the massacres took place in July and August 1943 when a senior UPA commander, Dmytro Klyachkivsky, ordered the liquidation of the entire male Polish population between 16 and 60 years of age.

Despite this, most of the victims were women and children and the actions of the UPA resulted in 40,000-60,000 Polish civilian deaths in Volhynia alone.

There were widespread attacks on Polish villages by Ukrainians, with the bloodiest massacres taking place on one day - July 11, 1943.

Thousands of ethnic Ukrainians fell victim – including spouses in mixed marriages, those professing Catholicism or simply those who did not share the views of Ukrainian nationalists.

On the eve of the anniversary, the Ukrainian Socialist political party, “Fight” Movement,which was founded in May 2011, has accused the current Ukrainian regime of “trying to forget” the tragic affairs in Volyn and “not doing anything to stop or prevent” the growth of ultra-nationalistic movements in the country.

The attack comes at a particularly sensitive period in EU-Ukraine relations with Kiev keen to sign the much-awaited - and potentially highly lucrative - Association Agreement with the 28-strong bloc. The trade deal, which may be initialled later this year, is seen as an important stepping stone towards ever-closer EU-Ukraine ties.

The Fight Movement leader. Sergey Kirichyuk, said the upcoming anniversary of events in WW2 will overshadow Ukraine’s efforts to close out its trade negotiations with the EU.

He said, “In Ukraine there is a tendency to gloss over this terrible date, as if the anniversary of Volyn massacre was an ‘inconvenient’ memory. Current Ukrainian politicians would wish to see Ukraine forget this crime as soon as possible.

“Moreover, they are trying to portray people who are responsible for the brutal mass murders of civilians as Ukrainian national heroes. Those responsible for these crimes are UIA leaders who are now canonized by Ukrainian nationalists.”

He singled out the “Freedom” party in Ukraine, which had a resounding success in recent Ukrainian parliamentary elections, for particular criticism, saying it supports “xenophobic and nationalistic” policies.

He said, “The Freedom party does not only justify the Volyn executioners – but also sets their actions as examples to the new generations of Ukrainians.

“Unfortunately, the country’s political leadership also turns a blind eye to the attempts to commemorate the Volyn tragedy. The government of Yanukovych and Azarov is not doing anything to showcase the truth to Ukrainian society about the events that took place 70 years ago.”

He said the Ukrainian foreign ministry had reacted “very negatively” to a resolution recently put forward by the Polish parliament to commemorate the Volyn victims.

“This is a date of eternal shame for Ukrainian Nationalists but millions of Ukrainians still remember the bloody crimes of the UIA and will next week honour the memory of those who die,” he commented.

With the 11 July landmark fast approaching, Mr Kirichyuk’s party is demanding that the Ukrainian parliament and government recognize the Volyn massacre as a “genocide” of the Polish population in Ukraine.

Mr Kirichyuk went on, “We demand that the memory of the Volyn massacre victims be immortalized in Kiev and other Ukraine cities and that 11 July be declared a ‘Day of Remembrance of the Victims of nationalism.’”

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