Russia may exonerate Katyn victims – Lavrov

Moscow is ready to consider the exoneration of thousands of Polish officers, police and civilians killed by the Soviet secret police in 1940 in the Katyn massacre, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

Polish relatives of the victims are involved in an ongoing lawsuit against Russia over the Katyn massacre case, which was closed in Russia in 2004 without the exoneration of the Katyn victims. The Human Rights Court has accepted the lawsuit for deliberation on two counts – the right to life and prohibition of torture and “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

“We are ready to consider this absolutely logical request on exoneration of these people,” Lavrov said in a radio interview.

“This issue…should be resolved in such a way that it satisfies the families of the Polish victims and, at the same time, does not violate Russian law,” Lavrov said.

The Katyn massacre remains one of the most painful issues in Russian-Polish relations.

The Soviet Union always blamed the massacre on the Nazis, saying the killings took place in 1941, when the territory was in German hands.

However, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev formally admitted in 1990 that the executions took place around 1940, and were carried out by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD.

In the 1990s, Russia handed over to Poland copies of archive documents from top-secret File No.1, which placed the blame squarely on the Soviet Union.

In September 1990, Russian prosecutors also launched a criminal case into the massacre, known as “Case No.159.” The investigation was closed in 2004. Last year, Russia handed over to Poland hundreds of files of its investigation into the Katyn massacre.

Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance, which has been investigating the case since 2004, has proposed including Russia’s materials into its own investigation.

In November 2010, lawmakers from the lower house of Russia’s parliament approved a declaration recognizing the Katyn massacre as a crime committed by Joseph Stalin’s regime.


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