WARSAW (AFP) – The disputed complex in the Polish capital, Warsaw, which is run by the Russian diplomatic mission, has been taken over by the city and will be made available to the Ukrainian community, the mayor said on Monday.
Mayor Rafal Trzaszkowski was at the site early Monday and said that an attendant had entered the two seemingly empty and fenced buildings, nicknamed “Spyville” by Warsaw residents, to check their condition and marked as captured by the city.
Trzaskovsky said that Warsaw was retaking the complex, which had been “illegally” occupied by Russia. He said last month that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 had heightened the urgency of the decades-old measure.
“It is very symbolic that we are closing this measure, which has been going on for so many years now, at the time of Russian aggression” against Ukraine, Trzaskovsky said on Twitter.
Ukraine’s ambassador, Andrei Dechytsya, told the Polish state news agency that Ukraine would submit an application to rent the complex, which could be used for a Ukrainian school or cultural center.
One of Trzaskowski’s proposals for the 100 apartments there is to accommodate war refugees from Ukraine. More than 2.6 million of them have crossed the border into Poland since the start of the Russian invasion.
The Embassy of Russia, which in the 70s erected high-rise apartment complexes on land acquired from the city, refused court orders to pay for renting or handing over the land.
Once busy, buildings went empty in the 1990s, after Poland relinquished its communist rule and Soviet dominance in 1989, and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself in 1991.
Since then, Poland says the lease contract for the plot of land has expired and has demanded that it be returned. But its doors remained closed and guarded.
Russian diplomatic and commercial missions own much more property in Poland than Poland has in Russia, which violates reciprocity rules, according to the Polish Foreign Ministry.
Follow AP news about developments in the war in Ukraine on the site https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.
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