Poland can claim compensation from Russia for the 1940 Katyn Massacre of over 20,000 Polish POWs by Soviet security forces, Poland’s president said on Monday.
Meeting descendants of the massacre at Warsaw’s Katyn Museum, Andrzej Duda said Poland was entitled to file for compensation from Russia as it was the legal successor of the Soviet Union.
“The responsibility for Katyn lies with the Soviet authorities. Today’s Russia is the heir of the Soviet Union, hence we can claim compensation from the Russian state” Duda said, adding that “this is the path we should pursue.”
The Katyn Massacre was a series of mass executions of Polish POWs, mainly military officers and policemen, carried out by the NKVD in April and May 1940. The killings took place at several locations but the massacre is named after the Katyn Forest in western Russia, where some of the mass graves of the victims were first discovered.
The victim count is estimated at about 22,000 with about 8,000 of the victims being officers imprisoned following the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland. Another 6,000 were police officers, the rest were Polish intellectuals, deemed by the Soviets to be intelligence agents and saboteurs.
The Soviets denied responsibility for the killings claiming they had been carried out by the Germans until 1990 when it officially acknowledged that the NKVD had carried them out.
Soviet responsibility for the Katyn killings was confirmed by an investigation conducted by the office of the Prosecutors General of the Soviet Union (1990–1991) and the Russian Federation (1991–2004), however, Russia refused to classify them as a war crime or genocide.