The Russian Parliament agreed in principle a declaration that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin personally ordered the Katyn massacre of Polish officers in World War II.
The State Duma lower house of Parliament agreed a text
that breaks several years of official reluctance to admit that
Stalin and the Soviet leadership ordered the killing of
thousands of Polish officers in 1940.
“Materials that for many years have been kept in secret archives and have now been published not only show the extent of this terrible tragedy but show that that Katyn crime was carried out on the direct orders of Stalin and other Soviet
leaders,” Interfax quoted the declaration as saying.
The text was agreed at an unusually stormy Duma session that featured virulent opposition from the minority Communist Party,some of whose officials still insist the massacre was carried out by the Nazis.
But pro-Kremlin lawmakers hailed the outcome,which was supported by all the other major Duma groups.
“This declaration is without exaggeration of historic importance,” the head of the Duma’s foreign affairs committee Konstantin Kosachev was quoted as saying on the website of ruling party United Russia.
About 22,000 Polish officers were executed in 1940 by the NKVD Soviet secret police around Katyn forest in western Russia and a number of other sites in a crime that long strained Russia’s relations with Poland.
The Soviet Union initially blamed the massacre on the Nazis and its guilt was only admitted by ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev just before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990.