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Poland says Ukraine must recognise Bandera's genocide during WWII

UKRAINE must acknowledge the genocide of Poles by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in World War II, a Polish official says.

Warsaw has proposed a joint commission to exhume mass graves and give victims a proper burial, but received no response from Kiev, Deputy Culture Minister Jaroslaw Sellin told reporters on Tuesday.

Ukrainian authorities have rebuffed protests from Poland and Israel about their glorification of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera and his organisation the UPA, which massacred over 130,000 Jews and Poles in an ethnic cleansing programme during the second world war. 

Bandera, who fought with the Nazis against the Soviet Union, has been given Ukrainian national hero status as an anti-Soviet militant since the “Maidan” coup of 2014, with his birthday named a public holiday in his honour.

The public rehabilitation of Nazi collaborators was one factor cited by Russian President Vladimir Putin when he invaded Ukraine in February.

Mr Sellin said the UPA’s massacres met the definition of genocide. “This is a historical fact. Sooner or later, Ukraine will have to acknowledge it,” he said.

“The traditions of this military formation and the nationalist political movements behind it are unacceptable, worthy of condemnation.

“They have to acknowledge it because it’s a fact. It’s simply a fact. A political decision was made and implemented for ethnic cleansing, the extermination of the entire national minority that has lived there for centuries,” a Polish diplomat added.

Poland designated July 11 a national day in memory of the genocide in 2016, earning a rebuke from Ukraine, which has also dismissed Israeli objections to rallies celebrating Bandera as “counterproductive.”

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