On New Year’s Day, Ukrainians celebrated Stepan Bandera’s 114th birthday anniversary, which has outraged Poles across the political spectrum. In cities like Lviv and others, Ukrainians offered up an homage to Bandera, the leader of OUN-UPA in 1930s and 1940s, who collaborated with the Nazis and is regarded in Poland as a war criminal.
Bandera’s birthday was also commemorated on the official Twitter profile of the parliament of Ukraine.
The crowds who paid homage to Bandera prompted backlash from Polish users on social media. Law and Justice (PiS) MP Kacper Płażyński posted on Twitter that Bandera was responsible for the genocide of Poles.
“Bandera was a murderer responsible for the 1943-44 genocide against Poles, when UPA units in terrifying ways killed around 100,000 Polish civilians. It is very surprising that while Ukrainian friends fight similar beasts, they continue to glorify this one,” the MP wrote.
Janusz Kowalski from Solidary Poland reminded that UPA and Bandera’s crimes were never called to account.
“My grandfather lived in Wołyń. Polish hearts bleed when we see that Ukraine’s referencing a criminal against the Polish nation,” he continued in his Twitter entry.
Defense24.pl portal editor Bartłomiej Wypartowicz also referred to the situation, stressing that it will be beneficial for Russian propaganda in the future months, as this topic is “extremely delicate in Poland.”
“Ukraine, you must move away from this history, not celebrate it. I will support Ukraine in the fight for freedom. I also wish Ukraine victory and new heroes,” wrote Wypartowicz.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday that the Polish government was very critical of any attempts to glorify Stepan Bandera.
“We are extremely critical of any moves to glorify Stepan Bandera, there can be no nuances here,” Morawiecki said. He added that he planned to address the matter “very, very strongly” during his next talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.