May 21 marks the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression. On that day, Ukraine’s Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko and the Polish Consul in Kyiv Jacek Gocłowski laid wreaths and flowers at the cemetery of victims of communism in Bykivnia, near Kyiv.
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“Totalitarian regimes leave behind the sacrifices and suffering of people. We witnessed this during the Russian Empire and in the Soviet Union, where Ukrainians and innocently executed Poles died as victims of political repression. It is symbolic that they are all resting here, in the same place,” said Tkachenko after the ceremony.
He assessed that the Ukrainians and Poles who rest at Bykivnia were united by a shared fate. “This is all the more symbolic because the current Russian regime continues the same policy: killing civilians, destroying heritage and mutilating the lives of hundreds of thousands” the Ukrainian minister stressed.
“We know that there were difficult pages in our history, while it is important for us to learn from this history and try to build the future on the basis of experience,” stressed Consul Gocłowski
Some 150,000 people of various nationalities were buried in the Bykivnia forest, including some 3,500 Poles on the Katyn list. Poles have their own separate quarters here.
The Poles were exterminated on the basis of a decision taken by the highest authorities of the USSR on March 5, 1940 – the same decision that resulted in the murder of a total of some 22,000 Poles in Katyn, Kharkiv and Kalinin (now Tver), among other places.