Former Polish FM was willing to downgrade scale of Katyn massacre from genocide, TVP claims

According to an investigative documentary, the government of Donald Tusk was willing to downgrade the Katyn Massacre from genocide to war crime in order to ease relations with Russia

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, and his Polish counterpart Radek Sikorski stop in front of the press on their way for talks in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

An investigative documentary by Poland’s state broadcaster TVP revealed correspondence between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his former Polish counterpart, Radosław Sikorski, which indicates that the liberal government of Donald Tusk was willing to downgrade the Katyn Massacre from the crime of genocide in order to ease relations with Russia. 

The “Reset” documentary series showed how the Russians used the attempted reconciliation to negotiate a favorable gas deal tying Poland to supplies until 2037 and attempted to get Poland to help it in its relations with the European Union.

One of the sensitive issues discussed was Katyn, the massacre of thousands of Polish officers carried out on Stalin’s orders in 1940 by the Soviet Union.

The TVP program revealed correspondence between the Polish and Russian foreign ministers in which Polish Minister Sikorski writes that “there is a will to resolve the problem of calling Katyn a genocide” and Minister Lavrov responds that “this is in order to remove it from the list of problems” to be resolved at a bilateral level.

The reset with Russia was opposed by then President Lech Kaczyński, who argued that Russian imperialism was a threat and insisted that Katyn was genocide. But the ruling majority at the time continued to attempt to downgrade Katyn by calling it a “war crime” in a parliamentary resolution passed in September 2009.

Prof. Sławomir Cenckiewicz, one of the program’s authors, has said that the Soviets and Russians, despite finally admitting that Katyn was their responsibility, have consistently worked against it being classified as a genocide. This is because the crime of genocide entails the responsibility of the culprits for compensation. The term “war crime” was what the Russians were after. 

The TVP series “Reset” is a documentary about the history of Poland’s attempted reset in its relations with Russia. The program draws heavily on documentary evidence from government sources revealing how the liberal government led by Donald Tusk between 2007 and 2015 attempted to improve relations with Russia by backing down in sensitive areas such as Katyn. 

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