Stalin's grandson loses Katyn defamation suit

21st September 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Moscow court Tuesday rejected a case by Joseph Stalin's grandson alleging Russian archives were falsified to show the Soviet dictator ordered the 1940 killing of Polish officers at Katyn.

Evgeny Dzhugashvili, who bears Stalin's birth name, filed the defamation suit against Russia's Federal Archive Agency for 10 million rubles (around 320,000 dollars/250,000 euros) in moral damages in June following its online publication of the documents.

Dzhugashvili alleges that five of the documents are fake, demanding to remove them from the site

Moscow's Tverskoy court on Tuesday turned down the suit, a court spokeswoman told AFP.

Among the five documents is a March 1940 memo from the head of secret police Lavrenty Beria to Joseph Stalin proposing to execute Polish officers held in prisoner camps.

Approximately 22,000 Polish officers were shot dead by the NKVD secret police in spring of 1940 in the Katyn forest, near the city of Smolensk in western Russia.

In a separate case Tuesday, another Moscow court identifed behind closed-doors the individual responsible for classifying documents related to a probe into the Katyn massacre, which was closed by prosecutors in 2004.

Memorial sued the Russian military prosecutors two years ago demanding to declassify the prosecutors' decree to close the decade-long Katyn investigation.

"The hearing today sheds some light, but it is not clear whether it will lead to the declassification of the decree," Memorial board member Yan Rachinsky told AFP.

Memorial said it cannot disclose the details of the court hearing due to its closed-door nature. The next court hearing for the case is scheduled for October 11, Memorial employee Alexander Guryanov told the Echo of Moscow radio.

Russia's decision to close the Katyn investigation has long strained ties with Poland.

The rights group wants the authorities to reopen the investigation and declassify the entire Katyn case.

Only 67 of nearly 190 volumes in the Katyn case have been handed over to Poland, while the rest are still marked top secret. Some documents were declassified in 1992 but were not made public until this year.

For decades, Moscow blamed the Katyn massacre on Nazi Germany, until Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev finally admitted in 1990 that the Polish officers had been executed by Stalin's NKVD secret police.

© 2010 AFP

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