Polish president will travel to honor Soviet victims
Sept. 23, 2010, 11:22 p.m. | Ukraine
— by Mark Rachkevych
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, front left, observes a minute of silence during a wreath-laying ceremony at the former Nazi concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, Oranienburg, Germany, Friday, Sept. 3.
Poland’s new president, Bronislaw Komorowski, will visit Kharkiv’s memorial to victims of totalitarian regimes.
The occasion is to commemorate the 1940 massacre of nearly 4,000 Polish officers at the hands of the Soviet secret police NKVD, according to the general consul of Poland in Kharkiv.
The visit is taking place on the 10th year anniversary of the memorial’s founding.
Komorowski will be joined by 300 relatives of the slain officers at a memorial mass and wreath-laying ceremony along with Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.
Komorowski was sworn in on April 30 as Poland’s new president after defeating Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the late President Lech Kaczynski, who was killed in a plane crash in April while en route to an event to commemorate the Soviet massacre of 4,400 Polish officers in Russia’s Katyn Forest.
In Ukraine, NKVD agents took the Polish officers from the Starobelsk camp near Kharkiv, shot them in the inner NKVD Kharkiv prison and buried their bodies near Pitykhatky village, outside of the city.
Their actions were based on Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s signed approval to carry out Lavrentiy Beria’s proposal to execute all member of the Polish Officer Corps, dated March 5, 1940.
Similar mass murders by the NKVD included 4,410 shot dead in Katyn Forest, 6,311 in Ostashkovo Camp, both in Russia, as well as 7,305 in other camps and prisons in western Ukraine and western Belarus.