Polish-Russian ties should not be hostage of past: Medvedev

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Ties between Russia and Poland should no longer be the hostages of history, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview published Monday, the start of his visit to Poland.

"In our history, there were bright sides, but also difficult and dark ones. And in life, it is important to try to separate history, whatever it may be, from the present," Medvedev told Poland's Wprost weekly news magazine.

"Otherwise, we will always be hostage of the past."

Medvedev's two-day visit is the first state visit by a Russian president to Poland in nearly nine years, signalling a warming after a difficult period in bilateral relations.

In the interview Medvedev acknowledged that the Katyn crime -- a massacre of 22,000 Polish officers in 1940 on the orders of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin -- was indeed committed by the Soviets.

For decades after the war, the Kremlin had blamed the crime on Nazi Germany.

It was only in 1990 that the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev first acknowledged Soviet responsibility.

"It is Stalin and his clique who are responsible for this crime. Documents confirm this. Attempts to question the credibility of those documents, saying they were forged, is simply not serious," Medvedev told Wprost.

"Personally, I feel it is our duty in the Russian Federation to tell the truth about this tragedy. I had to do it myself," he said.

Just days ahead of his arrival in Warsaw, the lower house of the Russian Parliament last week admitted in an unprecedented statement that the Stalinist regime was responsible for the massacre.

Moscow also made public new documents on Katyn.

"I am pleased that in recent months, we have reached the situation where a change is possible in relations between Russia and Poland," Medvedev said.

During this two-day visit, the Russian president will hold talks with his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski and with Prime Minister Donald Tusk, both liberals.

Medvedev will also participate in a Polish and Russian citizens' forum where he and Komorowski are due to issue statements.

Four bilateral agreements are to inked during this visit.

© 2010 AFP

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