“This is absurd!” Piskorski on restitution, Banderites, refugees, and Slavs

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October 17, 2015 – 

Valentin Filippov, PolitNavigator – 

Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski

“Mateusz Piskorski: Banderites – this is not a nationality, but a mental illness” 

The EU association agreement touted by the Ukrainian authorities includes provisions on restitution, in agreement with which Israeli and American citizens are already preparing lawsuits to oblige the return of the castles and factories of their ancestors. The war has led to a colossal influx of Ukrainian migrants to Poland, where they often don’t hide their nationalist views, causing irritation among locals. Fortunately, there are quite few with this Banderite illness. The leader of the Polish party Zmiana (Change) and ex-deputy of Polish parliament (Sejm) stated this in an interview with Valentin Filippov for PolitNavigator. 

Valentin Filippov: Greetings, Mateusz!

Mateusz Piskorski: Greetings.

VF: We welcome sunny Poland, Warsaw, and the fraternal Polish people. Tell us, I hear the word “restitution.” I know that in Poland and the Baltic countries something like this was carried out after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. Today the word “restitution” is starting to concern Ukraine. Can you explain what this means in a nutshell? Is it good? Is it bad?

MP: Everything depends on the point of view and the interests of certain entities. As regards states, I can say that in accordance with the Polish experience, and in accordance with the experience of other countries which earlier signed EU association agreements, some of which later joined [the EU], that this is bad. 

This is so from the point of view of historical justice and from the point of view of the personal interests of certain citizens, not only of Poland, but of other countries. It’s good for the EU, Israel, and the US, which now have certain claims and pretenses that they are the heirs to property owners on the territory of Ukraine. So, everything is relative. 

I just want to emphasize that Ukraine, or rather the Kiev authorities, the new Kiev authorities, are relatively new ones who came to power after a coup, and they themselves invited those who have certain claims and who are interested in restitution. They invite them so that they can sign the agreement between Ukraine and the EU. In this agreement, we easily find some articles which directly speak about historical justice, the need to address property issues related to the possible claims of heirs to former inhabitants of the Polish Kresy.

VF: Will we only give something to the Poles? That is, to residents of the EU? …Or another question comes to mind: on the territory of Ukraine there is a sufficient number of descendants of those who in the course of revolutions and other developments had their property taken away. 

I think about myself, first of all. In the 19th century, up until the revolution in the 20th century, my family had a big house on Deribasovskaya street, and there was a photo studio, that is, this is very serious. Theoretically, should I come to the citizens of Poland and say “guys, this is mine.”? 

MP: If the political leadership of Ukraine decides to consistently adhere to the standards defined in the agreement between Ukraine and the EU, the question of restitution should also be applied to citizens of Ukraine. Without question. But at the present moment, there are no corresponding bases in Ukraine, but, perhaps, after those claims which will be announced from the Polish side and by citizens of other countries, including US citizens, who are now big authorities for Ukrainian politicians, Ukraine will be forced to settle the question. This includes being against their own citizens. Of course, yes. 

If the Ukrainian government decides that it will regulate this issue in relation to the citizens of other countries, the Ukrainians will have the right to feel themselves aggrieved of their rights. And they will have the full right to appeal to the Constitutional Court and other organs for certain complaints. What is this unequal treatment of citizens of different countries?

So, in the future, the question will concern the citizens of Ukraine.

VF: You know how it happened in other states…the same situation turned out. For a while already, we haven’t had socialism. And not everything is public. That is, there is the example of my potential inheritance, and that building is already owned. So to say, there’s a clean buyer. A person who honestly bought it at auction, or bought it from the state in some other way. It’s possible, that he has already resold it to someone else.

So it turns out, that the state will oblige him to pay damages. How? The state sold him some kind of factory, something else, and here comes the landlord and says: “It’s supposed to be mind.” How are the bona fide purchaser’s losses indemnified? 

MP: Usually, it remains his real-estate, but the state is compelled to reimburse, or pay a certain compensation to the heir of the former owner of the property. Usually, this is at least 20% of the value of the property. This is evidenced by the practice in Poland and other countries. It’s at least 20%. In many cases, it is much more. This is an individual decision of the country in each case. In fact, I think that from the point of view of the state, it is only worse. That’s if you count…

VF: That is, the state will have to recompense? 

MP: At the present moment, we already have the data and documents of Poles who are the heirs to property owners, and the sum is somewhere around 5 billion US dollars. That’s just for the moment….The Ukrainian leadership, agreeing to the ratification of the Ukraine-EU agreements, considered that there would be enough money in the Ukrainian budget and treasury to compensate.

VF: Well, we’re coming to the world. The democratic world….You’ve shocked me.

MP: Well, we’ll see the result…As far as I know, in Poland and in Israel the heirs to former owners are already gathering documents, and very soon they will file lawsuits in Ukrainian courts.

VF: Listen, Mateusz. A thought suddenly came to me…Our nations have a sufficiently complicated history. We are fraternal peoples, all Slavs, but throughout history all kinds of conflicts have happened the entire time. Well, it’s understood that states are strong, peoples are talented, and Slavs fought among themselves for primacy the entire time. But I had the impression that, until recently, the conflicts and contradictions between Russians, Ukrainians, and Poles came to nothing. We relate to each other very well. For quite a long time.

However, I don’t know, maybe they look at it another way in Poland.

Don’t you think that such restitution might lead to conflict between our peoples on the household level?

MP: I emphasize that the Polish government didn’t support it, and they won’t support the idea of restitution. Just as the German government doesn’t support it, and this was officially announced concerning claims which serve Germans against Poland. But at the same time the German government, and Chancellor Merkel personally stated this, doesn’t have the right to prohibit private individuals from filing lawsuits against any other state. And the same situation is here in Poland. Due to a certain political correctness, attempting to save good relations at any cost and friendly relations between Kiev and Warsaw, Polish politicians are unlikely to support the idea. But, at the same time, they will not be able to prohibit anyone from dealing with property restitution. 

With regards to relations and interpersonal relations between our peoples, I think that there is one small factor, which can really ruin our friendly relations. This factor is called “Ukrainian Banderite nationalism.”

I, unfortunately notice this on the streets of Warsaw and other Polish cities, where there are mainly labour migrants from the Western regions of Ukraine. I notice that in fact these people have a different attitude. We’ll say that it’s an unfair and unfriendly one towards Russians and Poles. As well as towards those Ukrainian citizens, those Ukrainians, who don’t share their political views.

Unfortunately, thats how it is. 

And, unfortunately, this rhetoric of the minority, of a certain minority in modern Ukraine, dominates in Kiev. It spoils our relations daily. This led a few days ago to such actions, symbolic of course, as the attack and explosion at the Polish Consulate in Lvov. Of course, this was underpinned by certain quite active political forces. They are potentially quite strong in the Lvov region and other western regions of Ukraine. Unfortunately, the minority spoils our relations. 

VF: Well, this minority is quite aggressive. And somehow it has managed to remain in power. This is the dominant ideology in Kiev today. Unfortunately.

Without help from the outside, I have to say that they would not have seized power in Ukraine. It’s also the fault of Poland. And Russia.

MP: Yes, of course! I can honestly say that. I am more than sure that representatives of the Polish political elites and the political elites of other countries of the European Union committed a very big mistake when they agreed to this political ideology, the official political ideology of Kiev and Ukraine’s representatives as determined by representatives of the US State Department. 

Of course, the Banderist ideology is the official ideology of the Ukrainian state with the consent, or rather, on the advice of Washington. I don’t doubt this.

I find it very difficult to believe that the oligarch Petro Poroshenko is a sincere Banderite.  In fact, above all, he is just using this ideology in the way he used to pretend to follow other political doctrines and ideologies. It is situational. It’s not just his decision, but also that of his bosses in the US State Department. 

VF: Ok, Poroshenko. But Kolomoysky? Jews! Jews! How can they be with a fascist ideology…I don’t know. 

MP: Even after that lesson, that tragic lesson which happened on May 2, 2014 in Odessa, unfortunately, no one understood. Here I emphasize, and for this I was criticized, including in Poland, that I compare the ideology of Bandera and various kinds of structures such as Right Sector to the agencies of the Islamic State. In terms of extremism. In terms of the fact that that they publicly, openly call for the murder of political opponents. They don’t even hesitate to refer to the ideology which was judged to be the basis for genocide earlier in Europe. 

So, of course, this is all outrageous, but I can honestly say that practically no Western media, as this is all part of an information war, an information blockade, and almost no major media in the European Union pay attention to the ideology guiding the Ukrainian authorities. 

VF: Sad. It’s like you’re telling me a joke. Here Russia took a lot of refugees when it all started. In Russia, as always, with confused legislation, only two or three million refugees could be officially registered. In fact, the tide of Ukrainian citizens pouring into Russia is just insanely huge. 

What is the case in Poland?

Is there a Ukrainian refugee presence, and do you expect aggravation if something not entirely correct starts in Western Ukraine? Will this not be too large of a flow and how will Poland fight it? 

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MP: Now everyone in the EU, including in Poland, is discussing the migration wave from the Middle East. And earlier my analytical center had some data, approximate data connected with the amount of Ukrainian migrants, and it was around 600,000. That’s on the territory of Poland. But during political discussions and parliamentary debates on the topic of migration from the Middle East, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Poland spilled the beans, because the information that, for past year and a half, half a million of Ukrainian citizens have appeared on the territory of Poland, and this was hidden earlier. These are mostly citizens of Ukraine from the western regions. You mentioned refugees. They don’t have refugee status here. And this is entirely correct. These are just labor migrants, who due to the collapse of Ukrainian statehood and the Ukrainian economy, are simply forced to seek refuge. Economic refuge. 

The funniest thing is that at first Polish authorities and the Polish leadership stated in 2014 that we should create conditions specifically for refugees, but this was already after the coup. So, on the one hand, from the point of view of the Polish authorities and the Polish establishment, a democratic revolution in Kiev happened, yet after a democratic revolution refugees are appearing. This is absurd. 

VF: Well, you know that the thing is that to me Russia’s behavior is also sometimes absurd as it sometimes seems. They believe, that the DPR and LPR are a success. Yes? That’s good. But the rest of Ukraine is under fascist oppression. They only register refugees who come from the DPR. But if someone comes from mainland Ukraine, they say: “No, what is there to give you ‘refugees’? You don’t need it.”

The result is a contradiction. 

If a just government has been put in place in the DPR, then why is there a need to accept refugees from there? Refugees from that part where Ukraine is should be accepted.

MP: Certainly. From that part where they are persecuted for their political views. 

VF: I think that In Poland such a situation is illogical. 

MP: I’m very often in Moscow, and I meet refugees, although they don’t have formal “refugee” status, but they are Ukrainian citizens from Kharkov, Odessa, and other sides, particularly those where they were politically repressed.

So, in this respect, the difference between Ukrainian migration to Poland and Ukrainian migration to Russia is that those who go to Russia are above all those who do not agree with the political ideology of the authorities. Those who go to Poland are those who most often fully agree with the Banderite ideology, and the majority of them are residents of the western regions of Ukraine. But, economically, the authorities don’t cope with them, they don’t guarantee them the necessary living standards, and so they just come here as labor migrants. 

VF: Mateusz, you didn’t touch on the ideology of Ukrainian fascism and Ukrainian identity. For what are they doing all of this? They’re main chip is that they said “when we win, we can all go to Europe to work.” That is, the victory of the Maidan means that they can all leave to Europe to work.

Here. The Maidan won, and they all went. It is the Great Ukrainian Dream to go to Poland.

MP: You agree that this is a very strange understanding of nationalism.

VF: Very much so. I’m really saying that it is very strange.

MP: Well, here they are, and I want to tell you, that on the territory of Poland, nationalists use freedom of speech 100%. They are allowed, and this outrages many Poles, and this is being honest, to publicly display certain symbols, including the symbols of the OUN UPA, which here are associated understandably with certain events. So they’re probably rejoicing. Here is the “freedom of speech”, this Europe, which they got. Although, on the other hand, I want to emphasize that many citizens of Ukraine residing on the territory of Poland, are mainly not political activists who receive grants from various funds here, including Banderite activists, but ordinary citizens of Ukraine who got here to the European Union, not necessarily to Poland, and very often become slaves.

They don’t receive a salary. Their basic rights are violated. Not only workers rights, but human rights, in the cases of these people. And here it is, they in due time received the “Eurodream” which the Maidan spoke about.

I think that soon they will all be disappointed by Europe. At least most of them. Of course, activists will remain. 

VF: Oh, you don’t know our Russian character. And our Russian tricks. Because, Ukrainians are…oh…I now have a chauvinistic joke…Ukrainians are Russians. What does a Russian in this case do? Here he went to Poland, and there was very bad, and he was mocked for everything. He returns home, he lends money, and he portrays himself as rich and says: “It’s so cool there! Go!” And then another 100 will come to you.

Because he can’t suffer alone. He must also send his neighbors, so that they’re also pushed around.

Ukrainians are the best in this regard. The neighbor suffered, so he’ll send all his neighbors there. 

MP: We’re Slavs. Everything is very similar. 

VF: Yeah? It’s also like that with you?

MP: Specifically Poles returning from the UK, or from Ireland, act like that with their wages. So in this respect I totally understand this mentality. This is the pure Slavic mentality.

VF: Well, we’ve found each other. 

Well, I want to say, I want to wish, that this ideology of fascism, ideology of Nazism, this ideology of national superiority has not gotten to Poland. Because I see a lot of places in the world where nationalist movements are gaining strength. 

Was vaccinating for it bad 70 years ago? In my opinion, it was very good.

I wish that Poland will be saved from this all. 

I want that Russia will be saved.

And I want that Ukraine will be saved.

MP: And I wish this for Ukraine. And, above all, I wish that Ukrainians will not associate with the minority, not connect with it in any way. That minority which is in power in Kiev. With this ideology of the minority. In fact, here at the end, If I may, I’ll give one great, big example.

In Lublin, a few months ago, a Rugby match took place between the Polish and Ukrainian national teams. During this match, Polish fans displayed a certain banner. This banner had anti-Banderite slogans. The procurator of the city of Lublin instituted a criminal case against them for appealing to ethnic hatred. Only we didn’t see, and there didn’t appear the word “Ukrainian” on this banner. Only Banderite.

I don’t want that the Polish procurator, or any other government organs in Poland, as in other countries, to believe that Banderite means Ukrainian or that Banderite is any kind of a particular nationality.

The majority of Ukrainians are not Banderites.

The majority of Ukrainians are our friends who are now living in difficult conditions.

We well understand that the state ideology of contemporary Ukraine is not the ideology of the Ukrainian masses. 

VF: Well, we will believe that Banderite should be left as such be a separate nationality. Ukrainians have no relationship to it. Let’s say that.

MP: Yes!

VF: After all, it is a disease. 

MP: Yes, a mental illness. Above all, it is such.

VF: Well, alright, thank you.

MP: Thanks a lot. Thank you very much.

VF: Goodbye.

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