A Tale of Two Polands: Will Russians and Poles find common ground on Volynia?

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July 13, 2016 – 

By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ

Translated by J. Arnoldski

In our last article, I announced a following text on the topic of relations between Poland and Russia following the sensational statement of Antoni Macierewicz. Knowledge of several aspects of the relationship between NATO and the Minister of Defense of Poland allows me to suggest that this statement was nothing but an anti-Russian provocation by a pro-American politician. The goal of such was preventing a cooling of relations between Warsaw and Kiev and provoking anti-Polish moods in Russia. Macierewicz’s words hardly deceive Poles themselves. In the least, the movements of Kresy Poles are perfectly aware of the fact that the Banderites were consistent and implacable antagonists of both the Soviet government and Poland. 

In Russia, there is the belief that Poland is dominated by anti-Russian sentiment. This is partly due to a lack of knowledge of the “other Poland,” which has pro-Russian sentiments. This is also partly due to the monopoly over the information space in Poland by Russophobic forces. Thus, any statement by a Polish official is perceived in Russia as the opinion of all Poland. It cannot be excluded that the forces standing behind Macierewicz decided upon such a statement based on this reality. If this is so, then the plan was a success: Russia will once again convince itself that Poles are pathological Russophobes. This means that a rapprochement between the two peoples, at least in the sense of rejecting Banderites and Ukrainian neo-Nazism, is difficult or even impossible.

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Perhaps this is a conspiracy. It is also possible that Macierewicz was merely driven by the same primitive Russophobia which has replaced reason among Ukrainian politicians. But in this case, the question can be reformulated in such a way: why was such a person as Macierewicz lobbied by NATO headquarters for the post of Poland’s defense minister? From the point of view of NATO’s interests, his main advantage is his consistent and primitive Russophobia. Even by this route, we have returned back to the original hypothesis that this was all a provocation. 

But Poland is not only Macierewicz. Poland is also Mateusz Piskorski who is in prison for his pro-Russian sympathies and, most importantly, for his Polish patriotism. Breaking the ice in Polish-Russian relations is quite a feasible task for social groups, and their activism is quite well known. Today, on July 13th, an incident in Odessa was reported in which a group of Polish politicians were blocked by Ukrainian neo-Nazis for their desire to lay flowers at Kulikovo field. In Russian media, this event did not receive as extensive coverage as the immoral statement of Macierewicz. 

The reality of our days is that official Warsaw is pursuing a consistent anti-Russian policy while the Russians (at least the majority of them) are convinced that Poles are Russophobic from head to toe. But the second half of this formula needs to be changed. This depends first and foremost on Poles themselves. On the level of social groups, a signal needs to be sent which could show the strength of the “other Poland”, the one that is not hostile and even friendly towards Russia. Their counterparts on the Russian side would be played by similar social organizations, media, and some political parties. Thus would be broken the artificial ice of enmity and mistrust.

There is yet another suggestion. In 2009, the author of these lines voiced the idea of holding an international conference dedicated to studying the circumstances of the Volyn massacre. Unfortunately, in Russia then there were few who possessed knowedlege of such tragic events. Today, the situation has change dramatically. Why not have parliamentary groups of the Polish Sejm and social organizations of Kresy Poles send an official letter to the State Duma of Russia with the proposal to recognize the events of 1943 as an act of genocide against the Polish population of Volynia? In Russia, the memory of Polish victims of the Volyn massacre would be honored along with the memory of the 600,000 Soviet soldiers who died for the liberation of Poland from the common enemy of German Nazism and its Banderite henchmen. I believe that such a social initiative, supported by parliamentary groups, would benefit both peoples. 

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