Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Russia / Poland / Katyn Massacre

Vladimir Putin and Donald Tusk Remember Katyn Massacre Victims
By Tony Halpin
The Times, April 7, 2010
"In the first joint commemoration of one of the darkest chapters in their history the Russian and Polish prime ministers will pay tribute today to 22,000 Polish military officers massacred by the Soviet secret police in the Second World War. Vladimir Putin and Donald Tusk are to mark the 70th anniversary of the slaughter in the forest at Katyn. For half a century the Soviet Union blamed the crime on Nazi troops who revealed the mass graves to the world in 1943. It was only in 1990 that Mikhail Gorbachev, then the Soviet President, acknowledged that the NKVD, the forerunner to the KGB secret police, had carried out the killings on the orders of Joseph Stalin in April 1940. Mr. Putin said in a Polish newspaper article last year that Russians 'fully understand the sensitivities of Poles about Katyn ... Together we must keep alive the memory of the victims of this crime.'
However, Russia's refusal to declare Katyn a war crime continues to anger Poland and Soviet documents on the massacre remain classified. The Kremlin rejects criticism of any Soviet action that it believes sullies the Red Army's victory over Hitler. Many Russians continue to believe that the Nazis carried out the massacre. Experts view Mr. Putin’s attendance at the ceremony as an important symbol in correcting the record. 'Putin in Katyn will cut short these lies,' said Slawomir Debski, the director of the Institute of International Affairs in Poland. 'The words of a former KGB agent ... will be weighty in the debate slowly opening in Russia about the role of Stalin.' In what was interpreted as a gesture of government goodwill, Russian state television screened Katyn, a film about the massacre, for the first time on Friday. Its Polish director Andrzej Wajda, whose father was killed at Katyn, said: 'I never anticipated this day.' [...]"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ