Polish MFA unhappy about Ukrainian nationalist leader's commemoration

Poland's Foreign Ministry has expressed its discontent over the Ukrainian parliament commemorating the leader of the wartime Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), Stepan Bandera.

Bandera, a Ukrainian wartime nationalist leader, remains a deeply divisive historical figure. To some he is a hero who fought for a free Ukraine, while to others he is a criminal, responsible for the murder of countless thousands of Poles and Jews.

The OUN was an ultranationalist organisation which in October 1942 established the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The UPA was responsible for the Volhynia Massacre in which Ukrainian nationalists slaughtered around 100,000 Poles in the Volhynia and East Galicia regions between 1943-45.

To mark the 114th anniversary of Bandera's birth, the Verkhovna Rada , the unicameral parliament of Ukraine, on Sunday published on Twitter a photo of the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, General Valeriy Zaluzhny, next to the portrait of the UPA leader, and quoted several quotes from books written by Bandera.

"The fight against the Russian empire is currently underway. And these guidelines of Stepan Bandera are well known to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces," the Ukrainian parliament wrote under the photo.

Reacting to the post, Polish Foreign Ministry's spokesman, Lukasz Jasina told PAP: "Our attitude to the crimes committed by the UPA remains unchanged. We hope that the rapprochement of the Polish and Ukrainian nations will lead to a better understanding of our common history."