Site Archive‎ > ‎Stalin‎ > ‎

Arseny Roginsky: "The main thing is for the Russian people to finally learn the truth about Katyn"

Source: hro.org, 08/04/10
 
Arseny Roginsky drew attention to two moments. "The Russian Prime Minister went down on his knees beside the Polish grave in the name of the victims of Katyn,” Roginsky said. “This is of huge significance. And the second moment: he called the crime a crime. It’s true, he did not say, in that speech at the cemetery, that this was Stalin’s crime. He said it was a crime of totalitarianism. But for me it was amazing even to hear him use the term ‘totalitarianism’.”
 
                                                                                            * * *
 
On Wednesday 7 April the prime ministers of Poland and Russia took part in commemorative events at Katyn dedicated to the tragic date in 1940 when nearly 22 thousand Polish prisoners of war were shot by the NKVD.
 
Donald Tusk arrived in Katyn at the official invitation of Vladimir Putin. The Polish Prime Minister expressed the hope that Poland and Russia have chosen the "right direction" and "found a path to reconciliation." "On this path to reconciliation”, he said, “we have two guidebooks: that of memory and that of truth,” reports the Voice of America.
 
Vladimir Putin, in his turn, said: "For decades they tried to blot out the truth about the Katyn massacre with cynical lies. But it would be just such a lie and manipulation to place the blame for these crimes on the Russian people."
 
The Russian service of Voice of America contacted Arseny Roginsky, the well-known human rights defender, historian and chair of the board of the International Memorial Society, who was present at the ceremony at Katyn.
 
Arseny Roginsky drew attention to two moments. "The Russian Prime Minister went down on his knees beside the Polish grave in the name of the victims of Katyn,” Roginsky said. “This is of huge significance. And the second moment: he called the crime a crime. It’s true, he did not say, in that speech at the cemetery, that this was Stalin’s crime. He said it was a crime of totalitarianism. But for me it was amazing even to hear him use the term ‘totalitarianism’."
 
Roginsky believes that the actions of the Russian side represent a "step in a different direction, in the right direction." However, “the step is not enough of itself,” he added, "I would like to hear from Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin: ‘We shall resume the investigation into the crime at Katyn, and the criminal case which has been closed will be reopened, we shall give a proper legal classification to the crime, and not the mockery of a classification that has been given. We shall name those guilty – Stalin and all the others – and, at last, we shall rehabilitate all the victims in accordance with Russian law."
 
In 2004, the criminal case concerning the killings at Katyn was closed by the Russian Prosecutor General's Office. At the same time, of more than 180 volumes of case materials, less than half – 67 – were handed over to the Poles, on the grounds that the rest, in the words of the Prosecutor General's Office, contained state secrets. In addition, Russia's Supreme Court rejected the claim, by relatives of the Polish officers, against the Prosecutor's Office that the victims of Katyn had not yet been rehabilitated. Now this claim is under consideration at the European Court of Human Rights.
 
Despite the fact that Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov declassified materials of the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defence in Podolsk, many important documents are still not available to the public. "It is not all so fast and easy,” Tatiana Bushueva, historian and senior researcher at the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Voice of America, “given the fact that to this day in our country four million documents about the Great Patriotic War remain closed to the public. What don’t we have access to at present? We certainly do not have access to that part of the archive about Stalin which is still closed. According to the data I have, this is more than half. Obviously, there is also something there, that has to be the case, since relations with Poland during the Second World War were quite tense, and Poland was one of our most important allies."
 
“The archive of the General Staff of that period, of course, is closed,” Tatiana Bushueva continued, “I do not know when it will be opened. The archive of the Main Political Administration and materials related to Mekhlis are closed [Head of the Main Political Administration and Deputy Defence Commissar during the war]. I doubt that we shall have access to these materials in the near future. Therefore now, as researchers, as academics, we must make use of those documents to which we have access. And we did have access to those materials directly relating to all the military actions that occurred in 1939, as a result of which all these Polish officers were captured.”
 
Arseny Roginsky in turn drew attention to the fact that the main thing is, finally, to bring the truth about Katyn to the Russian people.
 
Arseny Roginsky said, drawing on an example from his personal experience, “Recently, a friend of mine took part in a broadcast about Katyn, where at the beginning there was a vote about who did the shooting. Eighty percent confidently said that it was the Germans. Only 20% said that it was the Soviet troops. And after my friend had explained everything on air for an hour, there was a second vote and 73% said it was the Germans. That is, his words had an effect of 7%. "
 
"When so many people are convinced about something that never happened, that white is black and black is white, until the mass consciousness changes, of course that crime will come between us and the Poles," said Roginsky.
 
Arseny Roginsky summed up the situation: "First of all, in this paternalistically-minded country, where people look to government and take the line government lays down, it is necessary that the authorities say the truth about Katyn officially, in their own name. You see today the authorities are already saying this, for the time being only in general terms and in a low voice, but, after a long break, they are already saying it."
ċ
Rights in Russia,
10 Apr 2010, 13:48
Comments