Russian TV host told off by minister ‘on point of ethics’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned TV host Vladimir Pozner not to quote him out of context and observe the journalistic code of ethics.


In a letter posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website, Lavrov said Pozner had distorted his recent remarks by picking only one “quote” from an extensive interview on the issue of the 1940 Katyn massacre.


“I urge you in future to quote me faithfully before dwelling from the TV screen on the bounds of hypocrisy and the lack of conscience,” Lavrov said.


In his Friday interview, Lavrov said 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.


Polish relatives of the victims are involved in an ongoing lawsuit against Russia over the Katyn case, which was closed in Russia in 2004 without the victims’ exoneration.


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


“This issue should be resolved so as to satisfy the families of the Polish victims and at the same time keep within the bounds of Russian law.”


Lavrov complained that in his comment Pozner said nothing about the Polish families.


“Honest journalism requires honest quotes,” Lavrov said.


It was not entirely clear exactly how Lavrov’s remarks were distorted.


In his comment Pozner said that the Polish officers were captured and executed with the approval of Joseph Stalin.


“In other words, the Soviet leadership committed a heinous crime. And now we are saying that we are ready to consider the issue of their exoneration,” Pozner said.


“To my mind, this sounds very strange.”


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 documents from top-secret File No.1, which placed the blame squarely on the Soviet Union.


In November 2010, 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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