Attempt to distort the Katyn massacre

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The material published by the Russian publicist, Nikolai Starikov, on his own web-blog in 2012 concerning the decision of ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) , is still the subject of active discussion on social networks. According to the author, ECHR lifted the responsibility placed upon it to investigate the massacre commited in forest of Katyn in 1940 and declared all documents, blaming Stalin for the tragedy and the death of Polish officers, fraudulent. Starikov also insists that the authors of the Katyn tragedy are not Russians but Germans. In the information disseminated by Starikov, neither the formal verdict delivered by ECHR, nor the motivation part of the decision is mentioned.

Nikolai Starikov: “The European Court disburdened Stalin and the Soviet Union of the responsibility for ordering the mass shooting of Polish officers in 1940. Hundreds of Polish soldiers were killed that year. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev assured everyone that Stalin committed these atrocities, but after an multi-year examination of all documents, ECHR invalidated these documents.”


FACT N1: In the Katyn Forest, the Poles were slaughtered by the Soldiers of the Red Army in 1940

According to the historical document of the US Central Intelligence Agency archives, the events of Katyn are a mass murder of political nature. The Red Army, took over eastern Poland in 1939 and arrested Polish officers, soldiers and civilians. Several months later, in April-May of 1940, they were brought out of military camps and killed in great numbers in three places, the most famous among which is Katyn where the corpses were burned, then buried.

Starikov’s claim that the authors of the Katyn tragedy are Germans, is contradicted yet again by another document made public from CIA archives which is Memorandum drawn up by Lavrenti Beria, called “To Comrade Stalin,” which suggested to Stalin to execute captured Polish officers, soldiers and other prisoners. The document is signed by Stalin, Voroshilov, Molotov and other members of the Politburo.

Lavrenti Beria:” Former Polish soldiers, former Polish police and intelligence officers, members of the Polish nationalist counter-revolutionary party, identified members of foreign counter-revolutionary organizations and others are present in large numbers in NKVD camps for POWs and in prisons both in Ukraine and in Belarus. They are all enemies of the Soviet power and are filled with antipaty towards the Soviet system… Submits to the NKVD of the USSR to discuss the case in appropriate form, taking into consideration the highest level of punishment – death by firing squad.”


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In the ECHR case of 16 April 2012, “Janowiec and Others v. Russia”, the Court notes that the prisoners of war were killed in the Katyn Forest by the Soviets in April and May of 1940. In addition, judges of the above-mentioned case who represented the majority of the judges during the court session – Kovler and Yudkivska, in the part dedicated to the concurring opinion concerning the decision, write:

Kovler and Yudkivska: ” we consider that the Katyn massacre was a particularly horrific war crime committed by the Soviet totalitarian regime, and we agree with our dissenting colleagues that “[t]his was clearly one of the war atrocities that the drafters of the Convention sought to prevent from ever happening in the future.”

Fact N2: ECHR did not have legal authority to review the Katyn massacre case

The reason why the ECHR did not accuse Russia of violating the right to life in the Katyn events is related to the standard “Genuine Connection” of the Court. According to this standard, there must be a reasonably short period of time between the criminal case and the ratification of the Convention. As stated by the ECHR, the Convention on Human Rights was not yet adopted in 1940 and Russia itself only adopted it in 1998 with a 58-year delay, so the Court did not have legal legitimacy to examine the case and impose responsibility on the current Russian government.

ECHR: “there must exist a genuine connection between the death and the entry into force of the Convention in respect of the respondent State for the procedural obligations imposed by Article 2 to come into effect.”.

FACT N3: According to the decision of April 2012, the refusal by the Russian Federation to hand over relevant documents was viewed by ECHR as inhumane treatment.

Although the ECHR does not have the authority to review the events of Katyn and to find Russia guilty of breaching Article 2, it clearly points to the violation of Article 3 (Prohibition of Torture) of the Human Rights Convention. The court deemed, Russia’s refusal to surrender the documents required for a fair investigation of the case to the Polish side, as inhuman treatment.

ECHR: “In sum, the Court finds that the applicants were left to bear the brunt of the efforts to uncover any facts relating to the manner in which their relatives died, whereas the Russian authorities demonstrated a flagrant, continuous and callous disregard for their concerns and anxieties. The Court therefore considers that the manner in which the applicants’ enquiries have been dealt with by the Russian authorities has attained the minimum level of severity to be considered inhuman treatment within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention.”

 FACT N4: ECHR imposed on Russian Federation to pay every judicial remuneration needed for the case

According to the decision of ECHR, the Russian side was obliged to pay compensation of the fees needed to present their case to ECHR to the applicants, who were relatives and family members of the victims killed in the Katyn.


Opening of the mass grave in Katyn forest by German soldiers, 1943

About the source:

Nikolai Starikov is one of the leaders of the “Antimaidan” movement and the founder of the party “Great Fatherland” whose motto is : “Russia is greater than the world”. Starikov was also a source of misinformation in an article already debunked by Myth Detection concerning the drug production index in Afghanistan.

Prepared by Sopo Shubitidze
Myth Detector Laboratory

Topic: History
Violation: Disinformation
Country: Poland

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