26 July 2010

Karaganov comments on Katyn and Stalinist past

On 22 July the prominent Russian politics and foreign affairs analyst Sergei Karaganov published an article in the official Russian newspaper Rossiiskaia gazeta titled ‘The Russian Katyn’, in which he called upon Russia to ‘find within herself the strength to admit that the whole of Russia is one big Katyn, strewn with the mostly nameless graves of millions of the regime’s victims’.

Karaganov welcomed the fact that ‘The country has finally completely and unreservedly recognised Katyn, has displayed nobility and sympathy for Polish grief’, and that both the Russian president and the Russian prime minister had condemned Stalinism in the course of the past year. But he argued that much remains to be done in order to overcome the legacy of the twentieth century, and said that the failure to do so was 'one of the main roots of our problems’.

He called for the country to be ‘strewn with monuments to the victims of Soviet Stalinism’, and for crosses or other monuments to the victims of Stalinism to be erected alongside monuments to fallen soldiers.

He also suggested that young people be mobilised for this task:

‘not new Komsomols or Pioneers' organisations, but a truly patriotic youth movement, which would seek out the names of these fellow citizens of ours and return them to us, so that they might be etched into these obelisks. This could also become a movement uniting the peoples of the former USSR. Uniting us with our former forced fellows of the socialist camp. After all the regime destroyed the best people from all peoples – Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Kazakhs, Estonians, Tatars, Jews, Hungarians, Poles and Czechs. Everyone could be found amongst the butchers too.’

The article can be read here

Responding in the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, Polish journalist Wacław Radziwinowicz commented that the article was surprising given Karaganov’s assertion two years earlier that ‘The Poles simply have a Katyn complex. They must cure themselves of it on their own'.

Radziwinowicz cited Karaganov as having said: ‘We admit that Stalin murdered [them], Putin even apologised for this, though I don’t completely understand why. Unofficially we apologised long ago. We don’t want, however, to do this publicly, because you’ll immediately start to demand compensation. We don’t need that. All in all we can also demand compensation for the fact that the Poles once entered Moscow together with Napoleon. Earlier they did that too, but after all there’s no point in considering this.’

Radziwinowicz notes that for Karaganov, Katyn would now appear to have ceased to be a ‘Polish complex’, and has instead become an important symbol and a metaphor for the fates of the Russian people and Russia.

The article can be read here

5 comments:

  1. PRIMARY EVIDENCE OF THE KATYN MURDERS

    Katyn: An Interpretation of Aerial Photographs
    Considered with Facts and Documents
    Waclaw Godziemba-Maliszewski.

    Fotointerpretacja w Geografii 25 (Special Edition), edited by J. R. Oledzki and T. Pienkowski; Uniwersitet Warszawski, 1995 - published September 1996. [Wydanie specjalne z okazji 55 rocznicy zaglady polskich oficerow w Katyniu, Charkowie i Miednoje] In English and Polish on facing pages. 18 maps and 47 photographs. This is a primary source document.

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    The Institute For Advanced Study, Princeton

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    The Hoover Institution of War, Revolution& Peace; Stanford University

    “I congratulate you most heartily on this accomplishment. It is a truly impressive work, which provides an important new dimension to the tragic history of the Katyn Forest massacre. I was particularly impressed by the meticulous character of your aerial photo interpretation.”

    Prof. Zbigniew Brzezinski
    Center for Strategic & International Studies Washington D. C.

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    Central Intelligence Agency
    Center for the Study of Intelligence

    “Undoubtedly it is going to be an eminent source among the scientific literature concerned with Katyn . . . . I remember vividly the contacts and long conversations with Mr. Godziemba-Maliszewski in Washington in 1991 [&1990], especially the efforts to send the priceless photographs from the Polish Embassy, where I was the Education Attaché.”
    Dr. Jerzy Jaruzelski
    Institute of Journalism
    University of Warsaw

    “We are very impressed with this well-researched book. It is a valuable publication for the Wiener Library and I am sure it will be much appreciated by our many readers and researchers.”

    Dr. Julie Woodland
    Institute of Contemporary History & Wiener Library, London
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