The District council in Lviv, western Ukraine, has repeated its demand for the removal of “anti-Ukrainian” symbols at Polish cemeteries in the west of their country.
The council claims to have discovered “anti-Ukrainian” symbols at thirteen Polish cemeteries, which is a violation of Polish-Ukrainian agreement on memorials.
One of the examples of the violation of the Polish-Ukrainian law is said to be a sculpture of a coronation sward, called the Szczerbiec, at the Cemetery of the Defenders of Lviv (Cemetery of Eaglets) which was used to coronate new Polish kings. The legend has it that in the 11th century Boleslaw Chrobry [the first King of Poland] chipped the sword against the Golden Gate during his triumphal entry into Kiev.
The Szczerbiec, which since the 1930s has become a symbol of Polish nationalism, became an object of protest last year after a monument to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was vandalized in southeastern Poland. The Lviv district council immediately demanded the removal of the statue of the conronation sword from the Polish military cemetery.
Ukrainians also perceive as offensive the words “Kresy Wschodnie” [a land adjacent to what Poles consider the historical eastern frontier of their country and what is today's western territories of Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania] at Janowski Cemetery, where victims of the Polish-Ukrainian war of 1918-1920 were buried.
Local authorities also criticize Poles for having renovated Polish graves without Ukrainian consent.
The council wants all Polish monuments accused of violating the Polish-Ukrainian law on memorials, to be demolished.
It is not the first time that Polish cemeteries in Ukraine have become a bone of contention between the two countries. The Lviv Cemetery of Eaglets generates controversy as many of the people buried there fought on the Polish side against the Ukrainians during the Polish-Ukrainian War.
The cemetery was closed for several decades and reopened only in 2005, when the Lviv City Council finally gave its approval. Initially the council resisted the opening of the cemetery because of inscription on one of the collective graves commemorated “The unknown Polish heroes who died during the Polish-Ukrainian War”. The inscription was changed several times and now it reads: “Here lie Polish soldiers who gave their life to Motherland.”
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