Polish Parliament Passes Resolution Condemning Soviet Invasion in WWII

By David Sophrin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

WARSAW, Poland – On Wednesday, the Polish parliament passed a resolution that condemned the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union in 1939 at the beginning of World War II, labeling it a ‘war crime’ and ‘genocide’.  In response the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, indicated that it felt “deep disappointment at the Polish attempt to compare Nazi Germany with the Soviet Union.”

Recent documents given to the Institute of National Remembrance of Warsaw by the Ukrainian government offer new evidence indicating that Soviet police forces (NVKD) were directly responsible for the killing of 350 Poles the Roviensky oblast from 1939 to 1940.  Those were just a fraction of the approximately 20,000 Poles that would be killed in the Katyn forests.  Those killings, known as the Katyn Massacre, and the subsequent deportations of Polish citizens to Soviet internment camps, were the reasons behind the passage of the Polish resolution.

According to the documents from the Ukrainian government, the NVKD’s purpose in committing the killings was in part to eliminate leading members of Polish society, including landowners, military officers, and intellectuals.  At the center of the NVKD’s actions was a coordinated effort to remove the leading citizens of, thereby undermine, Polish society.

The Soviet Union argued that their invasion of Poland in September 1939, following Germany’s invasion of western Poland, was necessary to protect the Polish, Ukrainian, and Belarusian citizens from the oncoming German forces that were left unprotected by the collapse of the Polish government.  The Russian government has never admitted that the invasion was the result of aggression on the part of the Soviet Union.

For more information, please see:

POLSKIE RADIO – Ukraine exposes Katyn executioners – 25 September 2009

RIA NOVOSTI – Moscow Says Resolution on Soviet ‘aggression’ harms ties – 24 September 2009

EPOCH TIMES – Polish Resolution Names Soviet Invasion as Tyrannical – 23 September 2009

UPI – Poles Accuse Russia of WWII Genocide – 23 September 2009

Opposition Protesters Clash In Belarus Clash With Police

By David Sophrin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

MINSK, Belarus – On Wednesday police arrested 30 activists who were involved in a peaceful opposition rally in central square of Belarus’s capital city, Minsk.  Approximately 50 people had gathered to mark the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Viktor Gonchar and Anatoly Krasovsky, political opposition leaders.

After surrounding the group of protesters, who were made up primarily of students, riot police pushed those who had gathered out of the square.  During the incident a number of protesters were hit by the police, who used clubs to arrest those that did not leave the square.  The police also attempted to prevent the journalists at the scene from taking pictures.  Some photographers, who were recording the incident, were beaten by the police.  They were threatened by police if they did not delete what they had recorded.  Among those arrested was Mikalai Statkevich, a leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party.

In recent months the European Union has called upon Belarus to improve its protection of basic democratic freedom.  The president of the EU issued a statement on Thursday, urging Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to “refrain from the use of force in dealing with peaceful demonstrations and to ensure that representatives of independent media are able to perform their tasks without interference.”  Lukashenko, who has held the office since 1994, has been accused of ruling Belarus in an authoritarian manner.  In recent years Lukashenko has been labeled by the United States as “Europe’s last dictator.”

Wednesday’s incident involving protesters and state police comes on the heels of other recent protests in the capital city.  On September 9, 20 people were detained by police while protesting the close military relationship that Belarus has developed with Russia.

The whereabouts of Gonchar and Krasovksy are still unknown.  The state investigation into their disappearance was closed in 2003.

For more information, please see:

BELARUS NEWS – EU expresses concern over police crackdown on demonstration in Minsk – 18 Septemeber 2009

DEMOCRATIC BELARUS – Belarus Police Beat, Detain 36 Opposition Protestors – 17 September 2009

EARTHTIMES – Belarus cops smash ‘disappeared’ person memorial march – 17 September 2009

RADIO FREE EUROPE – Belarus: Police break up protest, make arrests – 17 September 2009

AFP – Belarus police beat, detain 30 opposition – 16 September 2009

REUTERS – Belarus police break up anti-Russia protest – 9 September 2009

Russian Journalist Attacked After Questioning Government Response to Plant Explosion

By David Sophrin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

Abakan, Russia – MIkhail Afanasyev, blogger and editor for the online magazine Novy Fokus, was attacked this past Wednesday in the southern Siberian city of Abakan.  His attack came after he was critical of the Russian government’s response to an explosion at a Siberian hydroelectric plant in August.

The explosion at the Sayano-Shushenskaya chemical plant killed over 70 workers.  After the explosion Afanasyev raised questions about whether the official government reports on the number of people killed in the explosion was lower than the number actually killed in the blast.  Afanasyev also questioned whether there was more the government could have done in rescuing those that might still be alive in the rubble.

Within 24 hours of Afanasyev questioning the government’s response to the explosion, Afanasyev and two of his colleagues at the Novy Fokus were charged by local government prosecutors in Abakan with defamation for his criticisms of the government’s response to the explosion.  Prosecutors accused him of “discrediting the honor and dignity, and undermining the business reputation, of the leaders of the republic and Sayano-Shushenskaya.”  Initially, Afanasyev’s computer and mobile phone were seized, but after mounting international criticism, the investigation and charges against him were dropped.

Afanasyev has been the target of violence before from law enforcement.  In 2007 Afanasyev was attacked and beaten by two men who identified themselves as police officers.  Russian officials have filed at least six libel charges against Afanasyev since 2003.

For more information, please see:

AP – Russian report critical of dam accident attacked – 9 September 2009

International News Safety Institute – Russian Journalist ‘beaten’ after dam criticism – 9 September 2009

The Moscow Times – Journalist Critical of Dam Disaster Attacked – 9 September 2009

International Press Institute – Russian Journalist Charged with Slander over Report on Siberian Power Station Disaster – 21 August 2009

The New York Times – Russian Blogger’s Claims About Plant Accident Lead to Libel Charge – 20 August 2009