International Katyń Motorcycle Rally leaves Warsaw

“The chief goal of the rally is to commemorate Polish people murdered in the east.” PAP was told by Michał Szeliga, the deputy head of the International Katyń Motorcycle Rally association. Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

The 19th International Katyń Motorcycle Rally left Warsaw on Saturday. Its participants will follow two routes but they will meet in the Katyń Forest on Aug. 24 to pay homage to the murdered Poles.

The first route will take the bikers to the city of Arkhangelsk, where they will visit the graves of Polish deportees. The second one will go through Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. On their way to the Katyń Forest, they will visit sites commemorating crimes committed by communists and Nazi Germans.

"The chief goal of the rally is to commemorate Polish people murdered in the east. But the point is also to promote Polish history to people in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, and to offer assistance to Poles living beyond Poland's eastern border," PAP was told by Michał Szeliga, the deputy head of the International Katyń Motorcycle Rally association.

The Katyń Forest Massacre was a series of mass executions of Polish POWs, mainly military officers and policemen, carried out by the Soviet security agency NKVD in April and May 1940. The killings took place at several locations but the massacre is named after the Katyń Forest in west Russia, where some of the mass graves of the victims were first discovered. The victim count is estimated at about 22,000.