Russia has removed the Polish flag from a war memorial in Katyn, near Smolensk, in what Polish authorities have called the latest act of hostility by the Kremlin.
The site commemorates Poles killed in what is known as the Katyn massacre, a series of executions by the Soviet Union of approximately 22,000 Polish police and military officers taken prisoner following the communist regime’s invasion of Poland in 1939.
Paweł Mucha, an advisor to the Polish president, said that “the Polish consul was present” at the site, and the country’s foreign ministry had protested the issue.
“Naturally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also issued an official statement regarding the protest of the Polish state,” Mucha told Polsat News television channel in an interview. These types of hostile activities, he said, are aimed at all Western countries. “They show Russians are aware that Ukraine’s defense would not be possible to such an extent and for such a period, if not for Western support,” Mucha said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz said that a Polish consul confirmed the removal of Polish flag from the memorial in Katyn. “He intervened, demanding an explanation from Russian authorities and arguing that such actions are unacceptable by Poland and show the uncivilized approach to the memory of people who were murdered,” Przydacz told Polskie Radio 24 during an interview on Saturday.
He added that the presence of the Polish flag, and respect for the place where tens of thousands of Polish prisoners of war were murdered, should be a civilizational standard, and “if Russia does not adhere to that standard, it shows the true nature of this state.”
Meduza, a Russian independent news portal reported on the removal of the Polish flag from Katyn, quoting Smolensk Mayor Andriey Borisov’s entry on social media that shows two flag poles, the first one empty and the second with the Russian flag.
“I will express a general opinion. There can be no Polish flags on Russian cemeteries! And after openly anti-Russian statements by Polish politicians — even more so. I believe that the Ministry of Culture only made the right decision — the Polish flag must be taken down. Katyn is a Russian cemetery, it is Russian history,” Borisov wrote.
Spokesperson of the Polish Minister-Special Services Coordinator Stanisław Żaryn said that the removal of the Polish flag from Polish war cemeteries in Katyn and Mednoye is the Kremlin’s latest act of hostility and part of an anti-Poland campaign that has been ongoing for many years.
According to Żaryn, these actions prove that Poland is accurately claiming that Russia is adopting a policy of direct confrontation with Western countries.