26 November 2010

Stalin ordered Katyn: Russian Duma

According to news reports, this afternoon the Russian Duma officially acknowledged that Stalin ordered the execution of approximately 22,000 unarmed Poles at sites in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine in 1940, an event known as the Katyn massacre. The full draft text of the resolution ‘Concerning the Katyn Tragedy and Its Victims’ («О Катынской трагедии и ее жертвах») does not appear to be available online at the moment. As of this evening (27.11.10), the Duma’s announcement of the resolution on its website makes no mention of Stalin or his responsibility for Katyn, employing the passive voice with reference to the fate of the victims: ‘Seventy years ago, thousands of Polish citizens were shot’ (Семьдесят лет назад были расстреляны тысячи польских граждан).

More moves are afoot within the Russian government to confront the crimes of the Soviet regime. Today Mikhail Fedotov, head of President Medvedev’s Human Rights Council, stated that there would be an official assessment of the role of the NKVD and other state institutions in the repression of Soviet citizens. Fedotov's assessment project bears the name, ‘National Reconciliation and the Perpetuation of the Memory of the Victims of the Totalitarian Regime’ (Национальное примирение и увековечение памяти жертв тоталитарного режима). The editors of Vedomosti – who today underscored the ‘necessity’ of ‘a discussion of sensitive questions about the recent past, which should not be confined to the person of Stalin or to the years of his rule’ (обсуждение острых вопросов недавнего прошлого, которое не должно ограничиться личностью Сталина и годами его правления) – explained that ‘national reconciliation’ is meant to stand for ‘de-Stalinization.’

The Duma’s Katyn resolution happens to come a day before the Day of Remembrance for the victims of Holodomor, the 1932-33 Terror-Famine that claimed millions of lives in Ukraine, the North Caucasus, and the lower Volga region.

UPDATE 28.11.2010: The full text of the Duma's resolution has been made available online today: http://www.polit.ru/dossie/2010/11/26/katyn.html

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