Polish President Lech Kaczynski has said a decree by outgoing Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko to declare Stepan Bandera, whom many see as a Nazi collaborator during WWII, a national hero, runs contrary to the historical truth.
Yushchenko, known for his promotion of Ukrainian nationalism, often at the expense of relations with Russia, awarded the Hero of Ukraine title to Stepan Bandera in late January.
Bandera was a leader of the Ukrainian national movement in Western Ukraine and headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in 1941-1959. The Soviet authorities accused him of numerous acts of murder and terrorism and authorized his assassination by the KGB in Munich, Germany, on October 15, 1959.
"An estimate of activities of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army is categorically negative in Poland," Kaczynski said in a statement.
He said the OUN and the UIA "carried out large-scale massacres" of the Polish people in eastern territories of the former Rech Pospolita, and "more than 100,000 Poles died just because they were Poles. "These killings raise unambiguous protest in Polish society," he said.
"The Ukrainian president's latest actions are aimed against the process of historical dialogue and reconciliation. Current political interests defeated the historical truth," the president added.
Yushchenko's move has already fueled fierce debate in Ukraine, where Bandera is a controversial figure, with his mainly West Ukrainian supporters considering him a hero.
An MP from Sevastopol in the Crimea burned his passport in protest against the president's move, and two Ukrainians, a lawyer from the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk and the chairman of the Lugansk regional council, have challenged the decree in court.
Previously, Yushchenko awarded the Hero of Ukraine title to another leader of Ukrainian nationalists, Roman Shukhevych.
Yushchenko, swept to power by the 2004 pro-Western street protests, gained slightly more than 5% of the January 17 vote. His presidency has been marred by continuous political infighting and economic problems.
He will be succeeded by opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych or Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who face each other in a runoff vote on February 7.
WARSAW, February 5 (RIA Novosti)