Kiev, Ukraine – Police arrested 13 men on Thursday for breaking into a memorial exhibit and vandalizing photographs of Polish and Jewish victims of World War II repressions.
The attack took place in the Ukrainsky Dom exhibition hall in the capital Kiev, shortly before a Ukrainian parliamentarian was scheduled to open the exhibit formally.
The exhibit, called Volynska Reznya (The Volyn Slaughter) displayed photographs and personal memorabilia of ethnic Poles and Jews living in the territory of modern Ukraine’s Volyn province during 1944, many of whom were killed in inter-ethnic violence.
Thirteen members of the extreme right Ukrainian national group Svoboda (Freedom) entered the exhibition hall shortly after opening, and used fists and boots to demolish displays.
The nationalists hurled some of the artifacts, among them books and household items dating back to the mid-20th century, at parliamentarian Vadym Kolesnychenko in response to his request they leave the hall.
Svoboda activists fought with police called to the scene. Some of the nationalist fighters were still resisting as law enforcers carried them outside.
Seven of the detainees will face charges of destruction of private property, and six of failing to obey a police order, the Interfax news agency reported.
Svoboda spokesmen told the Unian news agency the exhibit violated Ukrainian law as it singled out ethnic Ukrainians as targets for inter-ethnic hatred.
Fighting and inter-ethnic violence in 1943 and 1944 in Ukraine’s Volyn province left as many as 40,000 dead, in one of modern Europe’s worst cases of ethnic cleansing.