Russia hands Poland Katyn files ahead of Medvedev visit

3rd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Friday handed to Poland more files on the Stalin-era Katyn massacre of Polish officers during World War II, ahead of a visit by President Dmitry Medvedev to Poland next week, the Kremlin said.

Russian officials handed over volumes of files to Polish representatives at the Russian State Prosecutor's Office, the Kremlin statement said.

Medvedev is expected to discuss Katyn during his two-day official visit to Poland starting Monday, when he is due to hold talks with his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski, the Kremlin said.

Medvedev in May promised Poland that Moscow would declassify secret files on Katyn in a sign of detente between the two countries.

In a symbolic gesture, he handed over 67 volumes of evidence on the massacre to Bronislaw Komorowski, then Poland's acting president. Russian officials handed over 20 more volumes in September.

The Soviet Union's NKVD secret police shot dead approximately 22,000 Polish officers in spring of 1940 in the Katyn forest, near Smolensk in western Russia, and several other sites in present-day Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

In 2004, Russian military prosecutors angered Poland by closing an investigation into the killings, refusing to acknowledge the massacre as either a war crime or a crime against humanity.

Last month, the Russian parliament passed an unprecedented declaration admitting that Stalin ordered the killings of the Polish officers, a crime that the Soviet authorities had until 1990 blamed on Nazi forces.

© 2010 AFP

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