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Appeal by the International Memorial Society to President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia

Source: hro.org (author), 26/05/10

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"...The Main Military Prosecutor has demonstratively ignored the decisive participation in the crime by Stalin, Molotov and others who sanctioned the shooting of Polish citizens. The document that is evidence of this, with the personal signatures of the members of the Politburo, was published in April this year on the website of the Federal Archive Agency and is well known to the Main Military Prosecutor..." - Appeal by Memorial Society to President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev



To the President of the Russian Federation
Dmitry Anatoly Medvedev


Dear Mr President,

Statements about the investigation into Katyn made in April and May this year by you, and also by Prime Minister V. V. Putin, in which it was said that the shooting of Polish citizens was a crime of the totalitarian regime, were extraordinarily important. Overcoming the heritage of Stalinism is vital for our country. We believe the publication, on your instructions, on the open access site of the Federal Archive Agency of documents exposing the role of the Stalinist leadership of the USSR in ordering this crime is also very important. This is an extremely important step in bringing the truth about the crime of Katyn to the Russian public.

With this regard, the letter from the Main Military Prosecutor of 9 April this year, received in answer to our earlier appeal to you of 2 March 2010, is all the more strange and undermines public faith in statements by Russian government leaders. In this appeal we asked you to take concrete steps that, we are convinced, would assist in the resolution of the “Katyn problem”. In particular, we spoke of the need to recognise all those shot by the decision of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of 5 March 1940 as victims of political repression in accordance with the current Russian law “On the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression.”

In his reply, the Main Military Prosecutor repeated his earlier statement that there is, allegedly, an absence of materials that would confirm the use of “measures of state coercion” – in other words, in this case, shooting – against each individual Polish prisoner of war. This statement contradicts a whole range of official materials, including in particular, Soviet archival documents that became public at the beginning of the 1990s, including lists of prisoners of war drawn up by the USSR NKVD in 1940, many of whom were identified in 1943 and 1991 during exhumation at the places of burial in Katyn forest, near the village of Mednoe near Tver, and on the outskirts of Kharkov.

This statement by the Main Military Prosecutor shows that the investigation into Katyn - Case No. 159 - that was closed on 21 September 2004 did not examine all available evidence. Nor did it meet one of the basic requirements of any criminal investigation, namely to establish a complete list of individual victims (in this case, the victims of shooting). In order to achieve this most important requirement it is now necessary to reopen the criminal investigation.

However, the complaints against the investigators of the Main Military Prosecutor do not end there.

From the letter of the Main Military Prosecutor it follows that those responsible for committing the crime were recognized as being officials of the USSR NKVD (whose names are classified, as is the decree closing the investigation). The actions of these NKVD officials were classed under Article 193-17, b, of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR (1926), which is exceeding authority with serious consequences. Both the identification of those responsible and the categorization of the crime are blatantly contrary to the facts of the case.

Article 193-17 provides for liability with regard to exceeding authority only for commanding officers of the Soviet army (and equivalent ranks of the NKVD). In classifying the crime under this Article, the Main Military Prosecutor consciously excluded the highest Party and State leadership of the USSR from the list of those responsible.

The Main Military Prosecutor has demonstratively ignored the decisive participation in the crime by Stalin, Molotov and others who sanctioned the shooting of Polish citizens. The document that is evidence of this, with the personal signatures of the members of the Politburo, was published in April this year on the website of the Federal Archive Agency and is well known to the Main Military Prosecutor.

A copy of the document, together with all the necessary expert reviews, has been included among the materials of Case No. 159 since the beginning of the 1990s.

There are no doubts that categorization of the crime of Katyn under Article 193-17 was not done in good faith. But in order to change the charges, it is necessary to reopen the investigation. Yet, according to the Main Military Prosecutor, there can be no question of reopening the investigation since the 10-year statute of limitations has expired.

Evidently, having set up such a vicious circle, the Main Military Prosecutor considers its position invulnerable.

Dear Mr President, in light of the above, we appeal to you to instruct the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation to conduct a review of the investigation by the Main Military Prosecutor into the crime of Katyn, Case No. 159, in particular to establish a full list of individual victims, an exhaustive list of participants in the crimes, a correct legal categorization of their actions, and also, on the results of the review, to consider the possibility of reopening the investigation into the case.

We are convinced that a conscientious, full and maximally transparent investigation of the crime of Katyn is necessary not only for the normalization of relations between Russia and Poland, but, above all, to ensure that Stalinist crimes no longer cast their shadow over Russia today.

Board of the International Memorial Society

25 May 2010

APPENDIX: Copy of the answer of the Main Military Prosecutor of 9 April 2010 to the appeal by the Board of the International Memorial Society to the President of the Russian Federation D. A. Medvedev – on two pages.

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Rights in Russia,
7 Jun 2010, 13:55
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