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13.09.2006

New draft law would give deported people status to Ukrainians forcibly resettled from Poland

   

The Ukrainian Ministry of Justice is introducing for public discussion a draft Law “On defining the status of ethnic Ukrainians moved from Polish territory in 1944 – 1946, 1948 and 1951”.  The law would grant Ukrainians forcibly resettled from Polish territory over half a century ago deported people status, and the acts leading to the resettlement would be declared illegal. At present on the territory of the Rivne region and Volyn there are nearly 100 thousand Ukrainians once forced to leave their homes on Polish territory and their descendents. The resettlement took place as a result of artificially provoked antagonism between Poles and Ukrainians on the border region between the two countries in which thousands of civilians from both sides died. For many years Polish villagers have asserted that they had no complaints about their Ukrainian neighbours and that the antagonism was stirred up by provocateurs.

The resettlement, organized by the government of the Ukrainian SSR and the Polish Committee of National Liberation in the War and post-War years, was not for the majority of ethnic Ukrainians in Poland voluntary, and in Ukraine they were not compensated for the land and housing taken from them in Poland. 

The Ukrainians from Kholmshchyna believe that they were deceived in the Soviet Union which did not fulfil international commitments. The head of the All-Ukrainian organization “Congress of Ukrainians of

Kholmshchyna and Pidlyashya” Oleksandr Borovyk recounts how together with people from Kholmshchyna scattered over the entire territory of Ukraine, he has been trying to achieve restoration of their rights for almost thirty years. These people have already been granted the status of participants in the War but this is not the status that the deported people should have.

Oleksandr Borovyk states: “I think that the Verkhovna Rada will pass this Law on the deportation. However, considering that we had been waiting so long, I lodged a claim with the court, however we lost the first instance court and the appeal court. ..At present our documents are with the Supreme Court”

If the law is passed, the deported Ukrainians will have concessions equal to those of veterans of the War. As far as the moral side of the issue is considered, the movement forward towards mutual understanding and reconciliation of the Ukrainian and Polish people is obvious.  This year in Poland work has been started on putting Ukrainian cemeteries in order, and erecting monuments to those who died. And in several weeks when the Ukrainians deported commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the resettlement, a monument to those deported will be put up in the centre of Rivne.

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