Witold Dobrowolski

Witold Dobrowolski is editor of the Polish SZTURM magazine. He appeared as speaker on the 1st Paneuropa Conference on April 28, 2017 in Kyiv.

The next two speeches confirmed that for Eastern Europe the political struggle was mostly about the economic development and autarky in the name of the nations’ well-being. Witold Dobrowolski, editor of the Polish “SZTURM” magazine and, c was one of the first to  launch the Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation and cooperation along with Vladyslav Kovalchuk, on the Ukrainian part.

Apart from contributing thematic materials to “SZTURM” and other editions, Witold arrived as a photo correspondent at the revolutionary Maidan in its bloodiest period to highlight these events in Poland. Right afterwards, he went on the expedition to the war-torn Donbas, having visited Donetsk and besieged Slovyansk, where he was almost captured by the militants of “DNR,” as well as Pisky, Debaltsevo and Mariupol (as a guest of the AZOV battalion). Along with the Donbas battalion he witnessed the deadliest Ilovaysk battle in which participated the regular army of the Russian Federation. The results of these risky trips Witold Dobrowolski presented in the series of photo exhibitions “From Maidan to Donbas. Ukraine 2014-2015,” which took place in Warsaw and Zakopane. Besides, Witold academically studies the history of Ukrainian nationalism and the AZOV movement in particular.

Soon after the solidarity action with Ukrainian nationalists of National Corps at the March of the Nation on the 20th of May, 2016, Witold Dobrowolski, on behalf of the “SZTURM” magazine, presented the programme of the Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation at the 1st conference of the Intermarium Development Assistance Group held July 2-3, 2016. Among other issues, on the conference’s sidelines was planned a joint commemoration action of Ukrainian and Polish civil victims of the ethnic clashes in the 40-s of the 20th century, the Wolyn massacre in particular. This idea was successfully implemented in August when Polish and Ukrainian nationalists put flowers at the memorials to the victims on both sides as their common stance against chauvinism and in favor of the “futurology” of international relations instead of the focus on the past. Actually, the step that was made in the Ukrainian-Polish relations was so big that the region’s enemies, the current Russian regime in particular, made everything possible to stage chauvinistic provocations against the new East Slavic reconciliation that is taking shape.

In his speech at the 1st Paneuropa conference, Witold Dobrowolski mentioned such instances: in October of 2016, was destroyed the grave of the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) soldiers in the Polish village of Werchrata; in January of 2017, was desecrated the monument in Huta Pieniacka and in the Bykownia Cemetery; in March of 2017, a sign of the Idea of Nation used by the AZOV movement and an anti-Polish slogan were painted on the commemorative crucifix in Gdansk by the unknown perpetrators, and this list is not exhaustive. Recently, the provocations reached a whole new level: overnight into March 29, 2017, Poland’s Consulate in the Ukrainian city of Lutsk was shelled with a grenade launcher. However, the provocateurs who dared to commit similar actions openly did not remain unpunished: for instance, Polish nationalists seized banners and “conducted a preventive talk” with Damian Bienko, leader of Narodowa Wolna Polska who burned a Ukrainian flag at the Polish Independence March in 2016, which has become a powerful message to the intrudes opposing the Intermarium and Polish-Ukrainian friendship.

Yet lately emerged another challenge to the Ukrainian-Polish friendship caused by the economic destabilization in Ukraine as a result of a hybrid war in the East: economic migration of Ukrainians to Poland. In the light of the previous speech, it is clear that both countries suffer from this growing tendency. At present, there are over 1 million economic immigrants in Poland; by the end of this year, their number will have doubled.

The problem has many facets: ethical, economic, and social. Polish nationalists, undoubtedly, are willing to preserve Poland as an exemplary monoethnic state. They anxiously observe the ghettoization process among Ukrainian students who resist assimilation and in the future might play a subversive role in a Polish society. In the economic respect, Poles are afraid of the job deprivation due to the cheaper Ukrainian labour force, which feeds chauvinistic sentiments. In the social field, Ukrainians are being exploited by the capitalists who underpay the wages, provide low work conditions, give no medical insurance, etc. Polish nationalists, stressed Witold Dobrowolski, are well aware of the fact that Poles abroad, especially in London, face exactly the same problem.

Given that the Ukrainian immigration to Poland is favored both by the conservative government formed by the Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc (Law and Justice) ruling party and entrepreneurs who plan to bring 4 million immigrants more in the future, Witold Dobrowolski suggests the following measures: attacking international corporations, stigmatizing entrepreneurs exploiting and bringing Ukrainians, starting work with trade unions to combat exploitation (both of Ukrainians and Poles abroad), carrying out information campaigns and initiating the legislative changes on both sides.

It should be noted that negotiations with various Polish anti-immigrant forces and Ukrainian patriots has already successfully begun. During the discussions, was also raised the importance of highlighting in a common information space the historical figures like Marshal Josef Pilsudski under whose command, along with the Army of the Ukrainian People’s Republic headed by Symon Petliura, took place the famous anti-Bolshevik campaign under the slogan “For Our Freedom and Yours!”  The request was eagerly fulfilled. May 12, 2017, Polish nationalists commemorated Josef Pilsudski in Warsaw, which is the anniversary of not only the May Coup in Poland carried out by Marshal, but also the day he died, and drew public attention to his Intermarium project and the agreement on the creation of the Polish-Ukrainian federation as our guideline today.1