Monday, March 07, 2005

I missed an horrid anniversary

According to AFP news the Moscow military prosecutor's department still refuses to hand over documents to Poland on the murder by Stalin of thousands of Polish soldiers during WW II. 33 volumes of documents on the Katyn massacre by Stalin's NKVD secret police in 1940 remained inaccessible because they were still classified as secret, said Witold Kulesza, head of investigations at the Polish Institute of National Memory IPN. The Russian military prosecutor's department has refused to acknowledge Katyn as a war crime or a crime against humanity, describing it instead as a crime under civil jurisdiction no longer subject to prosecution because there was a time limit after which it could no longer be brought before the courts. The IPN investigation concerns the "massive murders of at least 21,768 Poles shot, from March 5 1940, by (Soviet) state officials allied at the time to the Third Reich." Some 22,000 officers and men were taken prisoner by the Red Army when the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland in 1939 following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany that year. On Stalin's orders the Poles were shot in Katyn Forest and Kharkov, both in Ukraine.
The Nazis revealed the crime in 1943, but the Soviet Union thereafter always blamed Hitler for the massacre. In 1990 the then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged Soviet responsibility. Polish and Russian legal interpretations of the massacre are at variance with each other. Poland considers it a war crime of genocide without limitations on the time span within which it can be prosecuted and wants to find all suspects still alive, while Russia says only the Soviet leaders of the period were responsible.

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