Pavlo Lodyn, Executive Director of the Center for Political Narratives of Democracy
In April, Poles commemorate the tragedy of the Katyn massacre. Between March 5 and April 5, the NKVD troika sentenced 14,700 Polish prisoners of war to death, most of them in the Katyn Forest in the Smolensk region, as well as in Kharkiv, Kalinin (now Tver), Kyiv and Minsk. According to the facts established in 2012, the European Court of Human Rights stated that it was a war crime in accordance with the meaning of international law.
Soviet propaganda at the Nuremberg tribunal tried to convince the whole world that the execution of the Polish military elite was the work of the German Nazis. The same behavior was chosen today by its successor, Russian propaganda, when it told on international platforms that the atrocities of her own army in the Kyiv region were a kind of “provocation” and “staging.” Instead, the regime glorifies the executioners in every possible way – the honorary title of “Guards” was awarded to Putin’s 64th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade and 155th Separate Marine Brigade, which became “famous” for raping, looting and killing civilians in Kyiv region. Similarly, any mention of acts that do not fit into the positive image of the Red Army or the NKVD as part of a broader narrative of World War II (or the so-called “Great Patriotic War”) is subject to censorship.
Today’s Russia is trying to purposefully, and sometimes fleetingly, as a result of its own actions, erase the memory of its bloody crimes in the past and present. In Kharkiv, which is suffering from the occupier’s shelling, missiles hit a cemetery of Polish officers shot by NKVD executioners. Barbarism, similar to plundering by bombing Babyn Yar in Kyiv. In a propaganda video in Smolensk, bulldozers threatened to destroy the Katyn Memorial, where Polish soldiers are buried. The initiators motivated this action by dismantling monuments to Soviet soldiers in Poland. However, it should be noted that there is a relevant Polish legal framework for this, the communist regime is recognized as occupying, having committed numerous crimes against the Polish people. This cannot be attributed to the Polish army of that time. However, the blurring of the aggressor and victim status is a common practice of Russian propaganda. Unfortunately, this sometimes affects the optics of those political leaders in the West who do not fully understand the context of the Kremlin’s crimes against the peoples of Eastern Europe (or the so-called Intermarium) in history or today.
It is the peoples in whom the historical memory of the Kremlin’s crimes lives as no one understands today’s tragedy of Ukrainians. After attempts by the Soviet regime to destroy the Ukrainian people through deportations, executions and famines, their descendants continue to work. What the current executioners have done and are doing in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol and hundreds of other cities, towns and villages should be classified as genocide of Ukrainians. Estonia and Latvia have already made such decisions at the parliamentary level. You can expect others in the Intermarium region to follow this suit. After all, the Kremlin’s propaganda rhetoric, which seeks out “Nazis” who should be “denazified,” is not limited to Ukraine. Geography is, unfortunately, much broader, covering all the space that the aggressor interprets as his own sphere of influence. That is why it is a common cause of our peoples to fight back and fight until the overthrow of this misanthropic regime.