Belarusian Katyn list fails to materialise

Despite expectations to the contrary, Prime Minister Putin will not be handing over to PM Tusk today the so-called 'Belarusian list' of 3,800 names of Polish officers arrested and killed during WW II by the NKVD secret services.

"The document has not been uncovered in Moscow," said Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

It was understood that Moscow was searching for the list - which details the names of the nearly 4,000 officers who perished in prisons in Belarus during WW II - in the archives of the Russian FSB security service, which inherited the files of the KGB and NKVD after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Representatives of the families of victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre - the 70th anniversary of which takes place today with PM Putin and PM Tusk in attendance - say they have waited a longtime for the Kremlin to make the gesture of declassifying the documents which could point to where the bodies were buried, the whereabouts of which are not know to this day.

Poland has repeatedly criticized the Kremlin for not giving full access to all files related to massacre. It was hoped that PM Putin's invitation to PM Tusk to attend the ceremony today in commemoration of those who died 70 years ago, was the start of a new spirit of openness and contrition from the Russian side.

Jan Malicki, from the Centre for East European Studies at Warsaw University, has called the non-appearance of the list a "peculiar turn of events" but pointed out that it was not the Russian side which said that it would be producing the list.

"Not once did the Russians say anything about 'a Belarusian list," Malicki told Polskie Radio. "They only talked of documents that would broaden our knowledge about [the numbers killed in the massacre]. It was the Polish side, that is politicians and the media, that began speaking of the 'Belarusian list'."

Andrzej Przewoznik, head of Poland's Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites (ROPWiM) told the PSAP news agency that diplomatic gestures had to be backed with practical steps if the rift over the Katyn massacre was ever to be closed between the two nations.

"Political gestures should go together with more practical moves, like enabling us full insight into the Katyn archives," he said.


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