Polish flag removed from Katyn memorial

The mayor of Smolensk called the decision “the only right one” and stressed that in the light of the latest statements by Polish politicians, there should not be Polish flags on Russian memorials

The Polish flag was removed from the memorial complex in Katyn (Smolensk region). This information was confirmed to RBC by the local authorities.

“Indeed, when leaving for the memorial on June 24, 2022, the absence of the Polish flag was discovered,”— said in the Katyn administration. Other questions were forwarded to the Museum of Contemporary History of Russia, RBC sent a request there.

Smolensk Mayor Andrei Borisov, commenting on the situation, said that “there can be no Polish flags on Russian memorials,” especially after the “blatant anti-Russian statements of Polish politicians.” “I believe that the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation made the only right decision” remove the flag of Poland. Katyn— this is a Russian memorial, this is Russian history, & mdash; stressed the head of the city (quote from the agency «What Smolensk is talking about»).

Information about the removal of the flag appeared in the KultRa Telegram channel, which, according to the description, belongs to the historian and local historian Vladislav Kononov. He also said that the flag of the “unfriendly state” disappeared from the memorial complex “Copper” (Tver region). RBC sent a request to the management of the complex.

In March, a group of Russian politicians and public figures (including State Duma deputy Anatoly Wasserman and several communist deputies of the Smolensk Duma) approached the government with a proposal to dismantle the Polish part of the Katyn memorial. They called for a revision of the “Katyn story” because of Warsaw's position on military operations in Ukraine.

In April, in the Telegram channel “Protests in the world” there was a message about the threat of Smolensk builders to demolish the Polish part of the Katyn memorial. Vladimir Medinsky, an aide to the president and chairman of the Russian Military Historical Society, confirmed that construction equipment with Russian flags did indeed leave for the museum. Commenting on this information, he recalled that the Katyn memorial— Russian Museum, «exposition on the history of Russian-Polish relations» and “the common place of memory.” Medinsky emphasized that, “with some contempt” in Moscow they did not refer to the current authorities of Poland, “demolishing monuments to the soldiers-liberators”, Russia “does not fight with the dead.”

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The Russian-Polish Katyn Memorial is located at the burial site of about 4 thousand Polish officers who were shot by the NKVD in 1940. After the discovery of their bodies a year later, the Soviet authorities announced that the prisoners of war had been shot by the Germans. Only in 1990 did the Soviet Union plead guilty, and in November 2010 the State Duma of Russia adopted a statement “On the Katyn tragedy and its victims,” which states that “the Katyn crime was committed on the direct orders of Stalin and other Soviet leaders.” Several thousand victims of Stalinist repressions are also buried in the Katyn Forest.

Memorial complex “Copper” not far from the village of the same name is also dedicated to the memory of the victims of war and repression. It was created after the signing of an agreement between the Russian and Polish governments.

Both complexes are branches of the State Museum of Contemporary History of Russia.

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