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Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
LUTSK/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Poland’s president Bronislaw Komorowski was struck with an egg in north western Ukraine while marking the 70th anniversary of a notorious massacre during World War Two. The incident came after politicians of both nations attended a mass aimed at reconciliation, something Pope Francis had encouraged.
Amid opposition Poland and Ukraine took another step towards healing their wounds of history.
Officials of both nations attended the mass in the northwestern Ukrainian town of Lutsk, the administrative center of the Volyn region, to mark a World War Two massacre that killed more than 100,000 people.
The mass killings took place in 1943 and 1944 in Volyn, which was then part of Poland, when nationalists on both sides killed tens of thousands of civilians, including up to 80,000 Polish people.
Historians say the nationalist Ukrainian Insurgent Army carried out most of the massacres as part of its effort to push for Ukrainian independence. Before the war the predominantly Ukrainian-populated area was under a Polish rule.
As many as 30,000 Ukrainians are believed to have died in revenge attacks, carried out by Polish forces.
Pope Francis has praised Christians in Ukraine for being among those marking the 70th anniversary of the mass killings. The pope said he has been praying for the victims while asking God for what he called
“the grace of true reconciliation between the peoples of Poland and Ukraine.”
Those sentiments were shared by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.
Speaking at the Sunday service in Ukraine the president said: “I believe that under no circumstances can violence and ethnic cleansing be used to resolve conflicts between neighboring countries and can not be justified by political, religious or economical reasons”.
Yet not everyone shares that vision.
President Komorowski was attacked by a man from Eastern Ukraine who smashed an egg onto his jacket.
The man was immediately detained by police.
Yet organizers believe the ceremony was another step towards better ties at a time when Poland is encouraging Ukraine to join the European Union, one day.
Sunday’s gathering came a decade after in 2003 then Presidents Alexander Kwasniewski of Poland and Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine attended the memorial service in Lutsk for the first time to turn the page on a painful past and start a new relationship.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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