10 April 2010

Putin in Katyn

7 April 2010 marked a premiere – on the invitation of the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the Prime Ministers of Russia and Poland met in the Katyn forest to commemorate the more than 20,000 Polish officers shot there by Soviet forces in 1940. In his address, Putin stated “этим преступлениям не может быть никаких оправданий”. Putin’s words could be a milestone on the path towards a reappraisal of the massacre in Russia. To the present day those shot here are not officially recognised as victims of Stalin’s terror, and many Russians continue to believe in the Soviet propaganda version, according to which the Katyn massacre was committed by German occupation forces and not the NKVD.

See Putin's speech here

For a comment by Arsenii Roginsky, chairman of "Memorial" see here

Tragically, the Polish President and a number of government officials were killed this morning in a plane crash on their way to an official ceremony in Katyn.

09 April 2010

Clash in Kyiv over 'Volyn Massacre' Exhibition

Yesterday in Kyiv a group of Ukrainians protested an exhibition at Ukrainian House organised by a 'human rights group' called 'Russophone Ukraine' (Русскоязычная Украина, a project of Party of Regions MP Vadim Kolesnichenko) and the Polish 'Society for Honouring the Memory of the Victims of the Crimes of Ukrainian Nationalists.' Video of the confrontation is embedded above. The exhibition is entitled 'The Volyn Massacre: Polish and Jewish Victims of OUN-UPA [Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army]'. An essay on the memory of the Volyn Massacre among the Ukrainian diaspora by John-Paul Himka can be read here. As with other events of this period, the historical scholarship on the massacre -- not to mention public discourse about it -- is often fraught and lacking in contextualization.

This volatile collision of Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian memories of wartime violence is the focus of our project, 'Memory at War: Cultural Dynamics in Poland, Russia, and Ukraine.'