Poland invited to Ukraine to search for remains of Soviet regime victims

Last week, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told Radio Svoboda that Kiev issued the first permit to Poland for search and exhumations of Poles buried on Ukrainian territory. /PAP/EPA

Experts from Poland's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) will search for the remains of Polish victims of the Soviet regime in Western Ukraine, the Polish embassy in Kiev said on Friday.

The city council of Drohobych said on Thursday that 13 mass burial sites with the remains of 16 people were found on the premises of a former NKVD secret service prison building.

IPN has received an official invitation to join exhumation work carried out in Drohobych, as there may be the remains of Poles among those buried there, the embassy said in a press release sent to PAP.

According to the Polish diplomatic mission, the invitation has been issued in line with former declarations of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the provisions of bilateral agreements which have not been respected until now.

Last week, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told Radio Svoboda that Kiev issued the first permit to Poland for search and exhumations of Poles buried on Ukrainian territory.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during his visit to Poland on the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of WWII on September 1 that he was ready "to lift the moratorium on exhumation work in Ukraine, and the Polish side will attend to Ukrainian remembrance sites in Poland."

In late September, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasyl Bodnar said that Ukraine had positively responded to Poland's motion for consent to the renewal of the search for and exhumations of Polish victims of conflicts, who have been buried on Ukrainian territory.

There has been an ongoing dispute between Warsaw and Kiev since the spring of 2017, after Ukraine banned all exhumations carried out by Poland in Ukraine following the removal of a memorial to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in Hruszowice, southeastern Poland.