Russia has made public for the first time documents on the 1940 Katyn massacre when
some 20,000 people, mostly members of the Polish elite were slaughtered by Soviet troops.
The release is the latest, and perhaps most significant, in a flurry of gestures of solidarity with Warsaw since Poland’s president, his wife and 94 officials were killed in a plane crash en route to the ceremony.
Moscow says the so-called “Packet No.1” documents had, until now, only been made available to specialist researchers.
In one letter, the head of the secret service recommends to Stalin the execution of Polish prisoners of war.
Arseny Roginskiy, of the human rights group, “Memorial,” welcomed the move, saying it was long overdue.
“In our country many people have until now believed that Katyn was committed by the Nazis and not by us. This publication, on a state-owned website, means the documents are genuine,” said Roginskiy.
Poland has repeatedly asked Russia to open all its files on Katyn and while President Medvedev’s decision will no doubt be welcomed by Warsaw, some analysts say it’s likely to be seen as a symbolic gesture rather than something that will help to reveal what really happened.