Ukraine’s parliament (Verkhovna Rada) on Thursday passed legislation allowing Poles to stay legally in the country for a year and a half without needing to obtain special permits while enjoying the same rights as Ukrainians.
The bill on thespecial warranties » for Polish nationals was supported by 283 MPs, according to MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak. The new law, once signed by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, will grant Poles the right to employment, economic activity, education and medical care, as well as certain social benefits.
As Olga Sovgirya, a member of the Rada, said in mid-July, in addition to these social guarantees, Poles with European qualifications such as a doctor, health worker or obstetrician will be able to work in Ukrainian public clinics.
Zelensky introduced the bill on July 11, the day of remembrance of the victims of the Volyn massacre, in which tens of thousands of Poles were murdered by Ukrainian nationalists during World War II. News of the bill’s submission to Rada was announced by Polish President Andrzej Duda, who said Zelensky’s decision had symbolic significance, as the nation that had “tried to get rid of the Poles at all costsgreeted them now.
Meanwhile, in May, Zelensky’s office made it clear that Ukraine would give a “special status” to Poles as a sign of gratitude: since the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, Poland has received the largest number of Ukrainian refugees (so far more than 1.2 million, according to the UNHCR) and granted them the right to stay legally for 18 months.
At the time, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych criticized Zelensky’s decision. According to him, the current rapprochement between Ukraine and Poland could lead to the effective merger of the countries and the “Total Annihilation” of the Ukrainian state.
His remarks were echoed Thursday by a member of the upper house of the Russian parliament, Olga Kovitidi. Speaking to Izvestia newspaper, the senator claimed that Rada’s decision to provide Poles with a “special status” betrayed the national interests of Ukraine.
“Without firing a shot, Zelensky let the Poles into Ukraine, who had dreamed of it for centuries,“said Kovitidi.
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