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05.03.2010

Resettlers from Poland demand compensation

   

Around 2 thousand Ukrainian nationals are demanding compensation from the State for property lost in Poland from 1944 to 1951 during the mass resettlement of Ukrainians from ethnic Ukrainian land to the territory of the Ukrainian SSR, yet judges from the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv are refusing to examine such claims.

Lviv architect, Oles Yarema, as heir, would like to receive compensation for his family’s property in Poland. He has archival documents confirming ownership rights. His grandfather worked hard in the USA in order to build a house and buy land.

“My grandfather sent money to my grandmother for her to buy land. They planted a forest, orchard. Then the values were family, land, a house. Other people are using that property.”

Almost half a million Ukrainians were forcibly resettled between 1944 and 1951 from the Chelm, Peremysl, Yaroslavsk and other powiats to what was then the Ukrainian SSR. People were only able to take what they could carry with them, and many arrived in Ukraine without food, money or clothes, while their homes and land remained on the other side of the border.

Ukraine is obliged to pay compensation

According to an agreement between UkrSSR and the Polish Committee for National Liberation on the Evacuation of the Ukrainian Population from Polish Territory and Polish Nationals from the territory of UkrSSR, the resettled Ukrainians were supposed to receive from the UkrSSR the value of moveable and immovable property. However none of the victims received a penny.

People were issued with evacuation letters, the Poles itemized the property and were obliged to indicate its value. A number of resettlers received archival certificates confirming that they had property.

The civic organization “Harmony and Order”, together with a lawyers’ association, have calculated the equivalent of the money then and now. 1 Soviet Karbovanets is now equal to between 41,92 and 55, 54 UAH, depending on the time they were resettled.

If a property was valued at over 4,500 karbovanets, then members of the family or heirs could receive over 150 thousand UAH (1 euro is worth a little less than 11 UAH – translator).
Since the judges of the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv are refusing to examine the cases, claiming that there are no legal grounds, lawyers have drawn up a draft resolution on compensation which they have sent to the government. The grounds were the publishing in the official press in 2006 of the 1944 international Agreement. According to lawyer, Lev Kozakov, this case concerns more than a million Ukrainian citizens. He says that over the last 6 months more than 2 thousand people with compensation documents prepared have approached them. “We have carried out archival searches, corresponded with the Polish authorities, established the value of the property and buildings. It’s a huge amount of money.”

If the government ignores the lawyers’ application, on behalf of the resettlers they will turn to a Ukrainian court, and if the ruling is against them, will lodge an application with the European Court of Human Rights.  That is, like the Poles who were resettled to Poland and left property in Ukraine have done. Poland, incidentally, has paid many resettlers compensation for the property they lost.

Halyna Tereshchuk

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