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Polish Extremists Suspected in Ukraine Arson

Ukrainian officials hint at Russian involvement in two attempts to burn down a building used by the Hungarian minority.

6 March 2018

The suspected perpetrators of two attacks on a Hungarian cultural center in Ukraine are behind bars, but the reasons behind the incidents remain very murky.


Ukrainian National Police chief Serhiy Knyazev wrote on Facebook Sunday that three suspects in the 27 February arson that destroyed much of the first floor of the Hungarian Cultural Society of Transcarpathia in Uzhhorod were under detention. A foreigner suspected of planning the arson remains at large.


Two men suspected of a failed arson attack on the building on 4 February had been arrested in Poland, Knyazev said, RFE/RL reports.


Some say a Russian connection could explain why Poles and other foreigners may have wanted to burn down a Hungarian institution in Ukraine.


An ethnic map of the Transcarpathia region from 2001, showing Ukrainians in pink, Hungarians in green, Romanians in yellow, and mixed Ukrainians and Russians in blue. Image via Dc76/Wikimedia Commons.


Interfax-Ukraine quotes Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin’s Twitter post: “A Russian trace is seen everywhere. My 'regards' to all those who have speculated on mystical anti-Hungarian sentiments. I do not rule out that attempts to destabilize the situation may continue.”


The two Polish suspects are members of a far-right group with ties to Russia and pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists, according to the Daily Beast.


Their organization, Falanga, and its website may also have links to Mateusz Piskorski, the leader of a minor pro-Russian party in Poland and suspected Russian spy, Polish journalist Oskar Gorzynski writes in the Beast.


Ukrainian police said earlier that some Falangists had fought alongside Ukrainian separatists, RFE says.


Hungary denounced the attacks on the cultural center and demanded explanations from Kyiv. More than 100,000 ethnic Hungarians live in the far-western Transcarpathia region.


Hungary and other neighboring countries issued strong protests last year against new Ukrainian legislation restricting the use of minority languages in schools. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called the bill “shameful and insulting” and said the legislation threatened the survival of Hungarian culture in Transcarpathia.



  • In a Facebook post, Transcarpathia region Governor Hennadiy Moskal said the three detained suspects in the latest arson attack were paid for their part in it. He also claimed that a former official of the unrecognized Russian-backed Transdniester territory fled the scene immediately after the incident, Ukraine’s reports.


  • Whoever masterminded them, the arson attacks will aid Moscow’s policy of inflaming tensions between EU countries and Ukraine, the Daily Beast writes. Poland and Ukraine have traded recriminations over several cases of vandalism, arson, and other incidents in recent months. Warsaw is also angry that Polish researchers are being prevented from searching for wartime massacre victims, and at one point said Ukrainians with “anti-Polish views” would be barred from entering the country.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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