Bohdan Piętka, Polish Thought
Translated from Polish by J. Hawk
A new secular tradition was born just before 2014 Christmas. On December 23 the portal kresy.pl announced that Law and Justice lawmaker Malgorzata Gosiewska visited the front lines in order to render support for the Aidar Battalion [translator’s note: the same formation to which belongs the neo-Nazi Vita Zaverukha featured by ELLE Magazine]. This was confirmed by TV Republika, citing Radio Wnet correspondent Pawel Bobolowicz.
He reported that “L and J Deputy Malgorzata Gosiewska visited the front lines in order to render support for the Aidar Battalion fighting against the separatists from the Donetsk and Lugansk National Republic (telewizjarepublika.pl, 12/23/2014). This was further confirmed by a photograph included in Bobolowicz’s correspondence, which shows the deputy posing next to a bearded individual dressed in field uniform and armed with a Kalashnikov. Bobolowicz posted additional information on December 24 on the niezalezna.pl portal.
We learn that Gosiewska was accompanied by L and J deputy Piotr Pyzik, and that both of them visited the Aidar base in Starobielsk. This much is evident from the included photograph in which the smiling Gosiewska and somewhat awkward Pyzik are posing while being embraced by a very excited, unshaven individual dressed in camouflage. Gosiewska herself posted information about her visit to, among other places, Artiomowsk, a city which “experienced the rule by Putin’s terrorists”.
“I will forever remember the night spent to the sounds of howitzer fire” writes Gosiewska on facebook. “But I will mainly remember the wonderful, brave boys fighting for free Ukraine.” The users’ posts on facebook and on the niezalezna.pl portal are full of additional praise for Gosiewska and the “brave Ukrainian boys” whom, as one female commenter wrote, “we are keeping our fingers crossed and are supporting in any way we can.
The L and J visit to a formation consisting of members of the Right Sector engaged in pacifying the Donbass and which likely has committed war crimes opens a new chapter in the so-called “jagiellonian policy” initiated by the IV Republic founder Lech Kaczynski. It also opens, as it would seem, a new tradition, because so far deputies of the Polish Sejm [national legislature] have refrained from paying visits to what the Polish penal code defines as a “organized crime group of armed nature.”
Joseph Stalin noted that with the progress of socialism, the pace of class struggle only quickens. Something similar can be observed in Ukraine, where the establishment of “European democracy” has only facilitated the resurgence in popularity of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and everything related to Stepan Bandera. One of the manifestations of this mood is the recently opened restaurant Kryjowka [Hideout] in Lwow, which instantly secured steady clientele. “The décor of the restaurant located near the Market Square—reports Wirtualna Polonia portal—alludes to Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) traditions. The patrons may dress up as Ukrainian partisans. One can bring weapons to the restaurant, which the patrons frequently do. On the walls one can see posters commemorating the partisans, rifles, and grenades. Restaurant management underscores that the Hideout is intended to commemorate UPA struggle against the German invader. The management is not mentioning its fight against the Poles” (wirtualnapolonia.com, 12/20/2014).
To be sure, UPA “partisans” never fought against the Germans, but historical facts evidently don’t mean much. If they did, the “Hideout” would have also featured not only rifles and grenades, but also knives, pitchforks, and axes. These weapons were much more eagerly used by UPA partisans than rifles, especially in what Prof. Grzegorz Motyka euphemistically calls the “anti-Polish action.”
This nearly universal pro-UPA sentiment which is spreading through Ukraine together with the progress of its “democracy” recently reached Poland, where thus far it could be found only among the members of the Ukrainian Union of Poland. However, it is no secret that both the III and the IV Polish Republics have suffered from a case of Ukrainophilia. Still, up to now such pro-Ukrainian sentiment was framed only in terms of supporting Ukraine’s “European aspirations”, “democracy,” etc. Accusations concerning the support of neo-banderites were rejected, even when factually grounded (for example, the former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski shouting the banderite greeting “Slava Ukraine” during the Euromaidan in Kiev). The holiday visit by Gosiewska and Pyzik to the Aidar Battalion radically changes things. Had the deputies visited the headquarters of Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front or of the Poroshenko Bloc, one could still speak of supporting “European aspirations.” But both visited an armed formation which no self-respecting Western European politician would have ever visited.
This armed formation is closely based on UPA traditions and consists mainly of Right Sector members, as well as members of other ultra-nationalist or plainly nazi organizations, earlier comprising the so-called “Maidan Self-Defense.” Aidar is the only of these “volunteer battalions” that is subordinated to the Ministry of Defense, not Ministry of Internal Affairs. In early September Amnesty International called on the Kiev government to “stop war crimes being committed by the Aidar Battalion and bringing the perpetrators to justice.” AI also published a document containing evidence of “kidnappings, unlawful detention, abuse, theft, blackmail, and possible executions.”
This evidence was passed to Prime Minister Yatsenyuk by AI General Director Salil Shetty on September 8, 2014. “Some of these activities may constitute war crimes”, wrote AI in its communique. Like other Ukrainian volunteer battalions, Aidar uses symbols far removed from “European values.” Its emblem includes the phrase “Z nami Boh” [God is with us], a direct reference to the Wehrmacht’s “Gott mit Uns”.
Gosiewska’s and Pyzik’s visit to the Aidar Battalion, even if it were a private one, clearly indicates what sort of partners Law and Justice is seeking in Ukraine to pursue its “jagiellonian policy”. Any ally will do for L and J on its path toward confrontation with Russia, including, or perhaps even mainly, the neo-banderites. Henceforth the supporters of that party, which pretends to be Poland’s most stalwartly patriotic, cannot deny that they are a party of pro-banderite sympathies. This much is evident from their own statements on niezalezna.pl and the facebook profile of Gosiewska, which I will refrain from citing. This is what L and J’s not even ideological anti-Russianness but rather russophobic blindness has led to. One fears where it will lead.
The “jagiellonian policy” mentioned in the article refers to the recurring dream of Polish nationalists to recreate a Poland with borders as they existed in the 17th century, when they included nearly all of today’s Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States. The most recent attempt to re-establish this kind of Poland was made in 1920, when Poland’s Marshal Pilsudski launched an offensive (with token support by Ukrainian nationalists under Ataman Semyon Petlura) in the hopes of taking advantage of the ongoing civil war in Russia and separate Ukraine and adjoin it to Poland. Poland’s invasion provoked a Red Army counteroffensive that stopped only at the gates of Warsaw. But the dream of a “Great Poland” including vassal Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Baltic states (because the jagiellonian dream does not even hint at equality of relations between Poland and its eastern neighbors) clearly has not gone away, and evidently can be best accomplished only by first destabilizing Ukraine in order to ultimately bring the weakened Jagiellon dream does not even hint at equality of relations between Poland and its eastern neighbors) clearly has not gone away, and evidently can be best accomplished only by first destabilizing Ukraine in order to ultimately bring the weakened Ukrainian nationalists, who are predominantly based in Western Ukraine, actually have more of a tradition of fighting against Poland than Russia, therefore Polish attempts to re-establish influence over Ukraine would be likely to have the ironic effect of compelling the Ukrainian nationalists to seek reconciliation with Russia. Ukraine has even bitterer memories of Polish rule than it does of Soviet rule, dating back to the Khmelnytsky rebellion of the 17th century during which the Zaporozhye Cossacks successfully overthrew Polish rule and accepted Russia’s sovereignty. Thus any attempt by Poland to exert its influence over Ukraine is only liable to lead to Polish-Ukrainian bloodshed and the pushing of Ukraine toward Russia. Moreover, it is already clear that Ukrainian nationalists have found for themselves a more powerful European ally—Germany. And not for the first time in recent history.