Relatives of Victims of Katyń receive access to classified material


The Moscow District Military Court on 30 September allowed relatives of the Polish Officers executed in 1940 to see secret material from the “Katyń File”.

According to the applicants’ lawyer Anna Stavitskaya, the Chief Military Prosecutor provided the documents and they asked for time to read them. She added that they had made an application for this at the previous hearing.

The documents classified as secret include the resolution to terminate the case which the relatives of the victims are disputing.

Since a number of the documents are classified as secret, the hearings are taking place behind closed doors and, at the insistence of the Prosecutor General, in a military not a civilian court.

There are 183 volumes in all, with 116 containing information stamped as “secret”. Ms Savitskaya said that they had signed an undertaking to not reveal information constituting a State secret.

As reported earlier, the Khamovnichesky Court in Moscow refused to hold hearings over this case referring to the fact that the material contained secret information. In July the Moscow City Court upheld this ruling. According to Ms Savitskaya, the merits of their appeal were not considered.

The hearing of the military court is due to resume on 8 October.

In 2004 the Military Prosecutor’s Office refused to call the mass execution of Polish Officers an act of genocide and ruled that the investigation into the killing be terminated due to the death of the perpetrators. The very ruling terminating the investigation is classified as a State secret. Ms Savitskaya maintains that as a result the rights of her clients were violated.

“If a person has died, his or her closest relatives are declared the victims. This step was not taken by the investigators”

After the Red Army crossed Poland’s eastern border in September 1939, more than 20 thousand Polish officers were interned on Soviet territory and in 1940 shot. One of the mass executions was in the Katyń forest west of Smolensk. The remains of more than 10 thousand executed Soviet citizens were also found.

In 1944 Moscow tried to blame the Nazis for the killings and did not acknowledge the guilt of the NKVD until 1989.

See the link below for the Memorial Human Rights Society’s appeal to the Russian Federation Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, asking that material of the investigation into the “Katyń Case” be declassified

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