Monday, February 16, 2009

Moscow Digs in Its Heels On the Katyn Massacre Once Again

On January 29, 2009 the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court upheld the October 14, 2008 verdict of the Moscow regional court to terminate the investigation of the Katyn massacre of Polish officers in April and May of 1940. This October 14 verdict was appealed to the Supreme Court by lawyers representing the relatives of ten Polish POWs executed at Katyn. In its January 29 rejection, the Supreme Court confirmed the lower court’s finding that there had been no proper identification of the victims and rejected the exhumation records for three victims and the documentation of execution for the remaining seven submitted on behalf of their relatives. The second ground for rejection was the fact that the ten year limit of the Russian criminal code in effect on March 5, 1940 when the Politburo ordered the executions, had expired, and the case could not be reopened. Court decisions on cases of this magnitude are dictated by the Kremlin, and Russia’s refusal to recognize the victims of Katyn will continue to rile Polish-Russian relations. For more on the Katyn Massacre, see Exhuming Secrets, Hoover Digest by Paul R. Gregory and Maciej Siekierski.

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