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"Bronze soldiers" in Poland will have to prove that they are not communists

"Bronze soldiers" in Poland will have to prove that they are not communists

23.06.2017
Tags: Poland, Monuments, Laws, Great Patriotic War, World War II, History, Politics, USSR, Ukraine, Russia

The Polish Sejm decided to demolish hundreds of "communist monuments". However, if the defenders of the "bronze soldiers" can prove in court that the concrete monument does not propagate "communism", but only perpetuates the feat of those who liberated Poland from the Nazis, then they have a chance to survive. Thus, a memorial was preserved to Soviet soldiers in Mikolin.

On Thursday, on the 76 anniversary of Germany's attack on the USSR, the Polish Sejm almost unanimously voted to demolish Soviet-era monuments, including the memorials in honor of the Red Army. Corresponding amendments are introduced into the law on the prohibition of "propaganda of communism or another totalitarian system". The bill was prepared by senators from the ruling "Right and Justice" party of Yaroslav Kachinsky.

408 deputies expressed their opinions, there were seven against, 15 abstained. The updated law states that monuments and other similar objects "can not pay tribute to individuals, organizations, events or dates that symbolize communism or another totalitarian system". Such memorials are proposed to be dismantled within a year.

Recall, in April last year, the country entered into force the law on decommunization, which prohibits the propagation of totalitarian regimes in the names of buildings, roads, streets, bridges or squares. Propaganda refers to the use of surnames, names of organizations, events or dates.

According to experts, there are at least 469 such objects in the country, about 250 of which are devoted to the Red Army. "The preservation of the names of institutions and monuments in honor of events and people who have had a criminal impact on the history of Poland, gives supporters of totalitarianism to promote their views, which has a negative impact on society," the authors of the initiative believe.

"Bronze Soldiers" and their defenders

Let's note, that in Poland there are also volunteers who try to save the Soviet monuments. Only this week, activists of the Polish public movement "Kursk", which at its own expense restores memorials of gratitude to the Red Army, completed the repair of the monument in Mikolin. This was reported by the TASS leader of the Kursk Jerzy Tuts. The monument is installed in the place where 72 years ago the Oder River was crossed - a battle for the success of which more than 40 thousand Soviet soldiers and officers gave their lives.

On Thursday, the opening ceremony of the renovated monument took place. It was attended by Russian diplomats, representatives of local authorities and public organizations from Russia and Poland. The opening of the monument took place in the framework of the international memorial action "Candle of Memory".

Tuts stressed that the law passed by the Sejm only concerns memorials propagating communism, reminding that earlier the Supreme Court of Poland had decided that the monument in Mikolin does not propagate anything, and the red star on its top is just a symbol typical for any places of memory of the dead Red Army soldiers.

The Polish authorities are trying to present Soviet monuments as evidence of the "other occupation" of the country, except for the fascist, the chairman of the Party of Regions of Poland, candidate of historical sciences Boleslav Borisyuk told the newspaper VIEW. "History today has become an instrument of a very brutal political struggle," the source stressed. Borisyuk noted: like all sensible Poles, he does not support the bill, much less "such an approach to the victims of the Second World War." He noted that this contradicts both Polish and Catholic traditions.

Borisyuk stressed that it is necessary to distinguish the military merit of the Soviet Army from any political subtleties of later eras. "The Soviet soldier gave Poland and other liberated countries what he had - his life," the interlocutor noted. "There is no need to interfere with politics with regard to morality, the morality of history," he added. History can not be rewritten, especially its episodes associated with so many victims, the expert believes. This approach to history is very dangerous, he pointed out.

Borisyuk noted that now the president of Poland Duda has a month to sign or reject the document - however, he is unlikely to interfere with the bill.

"Memorial War" unfolded on two fronts

In the Russian State Duma, news from Warsaw provoked anger. In particular, the first deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the first deputy speaker of the State Duma Ivan Melnikov said that the decision of the diet offends the memory of those who thanks to whom the present generation of Poles live.

"This decision causes pain and bitterness. It's a shame for the current generation of Poles who insult the memory of those who gave them the future, thanks to which they are breathing and blasphemously clamping these buttons in their Seimas, "said Melnikov. "After all, we also chose a date - a tragic one for our country ... Such people do not need to explain that their law does not correspond to any generally recognized standards in assessing the events of those times," the Russian parliamentarian said.

"I think even Roosevelt and Churchill would not believe in the possibility of such decisions on the part of states saved by the Red Army from destruction. From the moral point of view, it's just a criminal law, "the first vice-speaker added.

Earlier, the Russian ambassador to Poland, Sergei Andreev, expressed his fear that with the adoption of scandalous amendments, the "war with monuments" will acquire a massive character, which threatens a crisis in relations. Last year, after the announcement of the initiative to dismantle the monuments of the Red Army, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova threatened that Moscow would not leave it like this. According to her, the war with monuments is aimed at erasing from the memory of the Polish people the fact of his rescue by the Red Army from total destruction by the Nazi Nazis.

The Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry sharply criticized the decision of the Seimas. In Poland, they do not make secrets from the fact that the main blow will be on monuments to the soldiers of the Soviet Army "liberating Poland from the Nazi yoke, and the Polish people from total destruction," the statement said on the Foreign Ministry website. The fact that the decision was made on 22 June, the day Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, was called by the department "a special blasphemy" and "shameful mockery of the memory of the dead."

In Warsaw, on this occasion, they recalled earlier that the Polish authorities "provide cemeteries of Soviet soldiers with full care and protection", which is enshrined in bilateral agreements of the year 1994, but they only concern the preservation of monuments erected in the burial grounds.

Paradoxically, the theme of the monuments ignites the Polish quarrel not only with the Russians, but also with other neighbors - Ukrainians. Although Kiev, too, is leading a campaign of "decommunization" and demolishing Soviet monuments, Warsaw has entered into a public squabble with him.

Adam Sivek, head of the bureau of memory of the battles and martyrdom of the Institute of National Remembrance (INP), on the eve of the outrage was that Ukraine banned the search for Polish graves of World War II, which the bureau conducted on the territory of a neighboring republic. Sievek reported this on the results of his talks with the Ukrainian side in Lviv.

UPA * they quarreled

As Sivek said, Ukraine demands from Poland to legalize all the memorials illegally established on the territory of the republic, and also to restore the monument of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army *, dismantled at the end of April in the village of Grusovice. It was in response to the events in Gruszowice that Kiev withdrew the permission for the work of Polish exhumers earlier and demanded in general to investigate the destruction of Ukrainian memorial complexes in Poland over the past three years.

Sivek confirmed that the restoration of the monument in Gruszowice is impossible - it was not installed in the burial place of Ukrainians and also advocated UPA. A new round of talks is expected in September in Poland.

Nikita Kovalenko, Andrei Rezchikov
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