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MFA statement on removal of plaques commemorating Polish officers and other victims murdered by NKVD from the building of former NKVD headquarters

09.05.2020

Russian mass media have informed about dismantling of plaques which commemorate Polish officers murdered by the NKVD and other NKVD victims. The plaques were erected on the building of Tver State Medical University which in 1935-1953 was the seat of the NKVD Regional Board in Kalinin (now Tver). The first of the plaques, commemorating the POWs of the Ostashkov camp who had been murdered in the basement of this building, was unveiled in June 1992 on the initiative of the Katyn Family Association in Opole. The other plaque was put up earlier on the initiative of the Russian “Memorial” Society.

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The plaques were removed following a suggestion by the local branch of the Communist Party of Russia that cited new historical findings. In October 2019, the Prosecutor of the Central District in Tver sent the university’s rector a letter which questioned the legality of the plaques. However, former head of the local NKVD Dmitry Tokarev in his report made in 1991 explicitly and unambiguously identified the headquarters of the Tver NKVD as the execution place of Polish POWs of the Ostashkov camp. It is estimated that over 6,300 Polish POWs had been murdered in the basement of the building where the plaques were erected. The victims included officers of the Border Protection Corps, State Police, Prison Guard, as well as officers of the Military Police.

For many years, Polish authorities have consistently demanded that victims of oppression during the communist regime be commemorated. We object to the practice of removing from the public space memorials commemorating the Katyn massacre and blurring the memories of the period of terror in Russia. We will never condone any attempts to relativise the history of the Second World War and the tragic times of Stalinism.

 

MFA Press Office