Polish PM expresses outrage over slogan in Ukrainian village

The monument commemorating the victims of the massacre in Huta Pieniacka. Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Saturday he was outraged to learn of an anti-Polish slogan written in the Ukrainian village of Huta Pieniacka, where many Poles perished at the hands of Ukrainian nationalists during World War II.

Morawiecki said there could be no consent to smearing the memory of Polish victims of "Ukrainian chauvinists and attempts to re-write history."

The PM was referring on social media to the placing of a plaque in the village with the slogan "AK (the 1942-formed underground Polish Home Army - PAP) bandits."

"Thanks to the heroism of the AK, thousands of people avoided death at the hands of bestial torturers," he tweeted.

Polish Ambassador to Ukraine Bartosz Cichocki sent a letter a few days ago to the leader of the local state administration, Oksana Prokopec, enquiring whether the local authorities had given their consent for the plaque to be sited there.

The ambassador wrote in the letter that the village in the Lvivska oblast was "a special place for Poles and Ukrainians." "On February 28, 1944, the village became the target of an attack by one of the battalions of the 4th SS Police Regiment, made up of Ukrainians, and a unit of the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army - PAP). In a cruel way they killed several hundred of my Countrymen, not excluding children, women and the elderly," he wrote.

Despite that, Cichocki added, in modern times, Huta Pieniacka has had the opportunity to become a symbol of reunification between the two nations. He noted that for year, Poles and Ukrainians have held joint prayers on the anniversary of the massacre, at a monument to victims of the crime and that members of the government have also taken part in ceremonies, with the Polish and Ukrainian presidents attending in 2009.

He said that in recent years the village had come to be used for disinformation by "enemies of Polish-Ukrainian rapprochement.