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Katyn should unite Poles and Russians, says Moscow Patriarch

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 16.07.2012 17:01
The head of the Orthodox Church in Russia has declared that the legacy of Katyn should unite Poles and Russians, while consecrating a new church at the former execution site.

Patriarch Cyril of Moscow and All Russia during Sunday's ceremony: photo - PAP/Wojciech Pacewicz

“Katyn is a shared grave for Russians and Poles, a place of shared grief and of shared deep feelings,” said Patriarch Cyril of Moscow and All Russia during Sunday's ceremony.

“Nothing brings us closer than shared suffering, if it is understood as shared,” he added.

Although the new church is Orthodox, Patriarch Cyril stressed that it should serve as a place of prayer to people of all religions, as the victims at Katyn had belonged to various faiths.

The churchman reflected that the site could inspire “a new era” in Polish-Russian relations.

The Katyn Forest near Smolensk first gained international notoriety in April 1943 during the Second World War, when Nazi Germany broadcast the discovery of mass graves of Polish officers.

The Soviets tried to put the responsibility for the murders on Berlin, and it was only in 1990 that Moscow finally admitted guilt.

Polish victims of the executions - mostly army and police officers as well as members of the intelligentsia – were shot at several other sites across the Soviet Union besides Katyn. The entire toll for the crime has been estimated at about 22,000.

The victims were typically buried at sites that had previously been used for the extermination of Soviet citizens.

Russia has long refused to accept the Katyn massacre as an act of genocide, and the case remains a thorn in Polish-Russian relations. (ss/nh)

tags: katyn
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