Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Only the dead can complain

Astonishing behaviour in a Moscow court in May. Reported in the Gazeta Wyborcza the court announced that only the direct victims of the Katyn massacre could demand a pro^per investigation in to the masacre,

Descendants of ten Polish officers murdered by the NKVD in Katyn in the spring of 1940 are demanding from Russia's Chief Military Prosecutor's Office that they are recognised as victims of political reprisals and officially rehabilitated.The prosecutor's office replies it cannot do that, because there is no conclusive proof that the 25,000 Polish army and police officers, border guards, officials, and business owners were murdered on the basis of an unfair ruling issued by a Soviet court.

Indeed, there's no such proof, and there won't ever be. The executions were carried out on the basis not of a court sentence, but a decision of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) Central Committee's Politburo dated 5 March 1940, which stated explicitly they were to be shot 'without interrogation, without charges, without an investigation, and without an indictment'.

The Katyn victims' relatives appealed against the prosecutor office's decision through their Moscow lawyers to the district court in Moscow Khamovniki. The court issued a ruling on 16 May, and the official writ has just reached Poland.

Judge Igor Tulenev answered the Katyn victims' relatives in a style similar to that used earlier by the military prosecutor's office: 'The literal interpretation of the meaning of the Article 8.1 of the Russian Federation's Act on the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Political Reprisals is such that only the citizens whose rights have been directly violated are entitled to appeal against the [Military Prosecutor's Office's] decision'. 'The judge told us clearly: only the victims would be able to appeal against the prosecutor's absurd decision. Their children don't have the right to demand justice', said Anna Stawicka, counsel to the families of the Katyn victims in Russia.

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