MPs approve ‘special status’ for Poland


The Ukrainian parliament (Verkhovna Rada) passed legislation on Thursday that allows Poland to stay legally in the country for a year and a half without special permits, while enjoying the same rights as Ukrainians.

The bill on the “special guarantees” for Polish citizens was supported by 283 MPs, said MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak. The new law, once signed by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, will give Poles the right to work, economic activity, education and medical care, and will also make them eligible for a number of social benefits.

As Rada deputy Olga Sovgirya said in mid-July, Poles with European qualifications, such as a doctor, health worker or midwife, will be able to work in Ukrainian state clinics alongside these social guarantees.

Zelensky introduced the bill on July 11, a day to commemorate the victims of the Volhynia massacre, in which tens of thousands of Poles were murdered by Ukrainian nationalists during World War II. News of the bill’s introduction to Rada was announced by Polish President Andrzej Duda, who said Zelensky’s move had symbolic significance as the nation “tried to get rid of the Poles at all costs”now welcomed them.

Meanwhile, Zelensky’s office made it clear in May that Ukraine is “special status” to the Poles as a gesture of gratitude: Since the beginning of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, Poland has welcomed the largest number of Ukrainian refugees (as of now more than 1.2 million, according to UNHCR) and given them the right to remain legally for 18 months .

At the time, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych criticized Zelensky’s decision. In his view, the current rapprochement between Ukraine and Poland could lead to the actual merger of the countries and to the “Total destruction” of the Ukrainian state.

His comments were echoed on Thursday by a member of the top chamber of the Russian parliament, Olga Kovitidi. Speaking to the Izvestia newspaper, the senator claimed that Rada’s decision to give the Poles a “special statusbetraying Ukraine’s national interests.

“Without firing a shot, Zelensky let the Poles into Ukraine, who had dreamed of this for centuries,‘ said Kovitidi.

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