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Polish president honours victims of Katyn Crime during Ukrainian trip

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 15.12.2015 10:59
President Andrzej Duda laid a wreath on Monday night at a Polish war cemetery in Bykivnia near Kiev, beginning his first official visit to Ukraine.
President Andrzej Duda at the Polish war cemetery in Bykivnia, near Kiev. Photo: PAP/Paweł SupernakPresident Andrzej Duda at the Polish war cemetery in Bykivnia, near Kiev. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak

The site, which was opened in 2012, is the fourth cemetery connected with the WWII Katyn Crime, in which over 22,000 Poles – largely reserve officers – were killed in mass executions at various points across the Soviet Union, including the Katyn Forest near Smolensk (today western Russia).

The wooded site at Bykivnia is believed to be the final resting place of over 3400 Polish citizens murdered in 1940 on Stalin's orders by the Soviet secret police (NKVD).

In 2007, Polish archaeologists working at the site discovered dog tags belonging to a Polish officer, as well as a comb with four names of Poles carved into it.

The names matched those of missing officers on a list of victims who had disappeared in Soviet Ukraine, although most remains could not be conclusively identified.

Moscow admitted carrying out the massacres in 1990, although many details remain unclear.

Poles view the Katyn Crime as a bid to destroy the country's pre-war elite, but Bykivnia is also the burial place of many other victims of Soviet purges, including ethnic Ukrainians. Estimates of those interred near the new Polish war cemetery range from 16,000 to 100,000.

On Tuesday, Duda will speak with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk about a potential resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces, as well as economic matters.

He is accompanied by First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda. (nh)

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