Monument honouring murdered Poles removed in Russia
A monument and a cross in Russia commemorating Polish and Lithuanian victims of Soviet terror have been removed, the Polish ambassador to Moscow has told PAP.
The memorials were situated next to a mass grave containing the victims of the 1930's terror in the village of Pivovarikha near the eastern city of Irkutsk.
"The removal of both the monument and the cross was carried out on the pretext of the reorganisation of alleys at the memorial site in Pivovarikha," Ambassador Krzysztof Krajewski said on Friday.
The diplomat said that both the Polish embassy in Moscow and Poland's consulate in Irkutsk would take appropriate steps in connection with this incident.
According to historians, in the 1930s around 15,000-17,000 people were murdered by the Soviet NKVD near Pivovarikha. Both the monument honouring the Poles and the cross commemorating the Lithuanians were erected in 2015.
The first mass graves near Pivovarikha were discovered in 1989.
The removal of the memorials comes not long after the dismantling of "a monument of gratitude to the Red Army" in the southern Polish town of Głubczyce.
The monument was removed as part of an operation by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), the body charged with investigating Soviet-era crimes, aimed at removing Soviet propaganda memorials from Poland.
The Głubczyce monument was erected in 1945 to commemorate 676 Red Army soldiers of the 1st Ukrainian Front who fell in the fighting for the town in March 1945.
According to documents at the disposal of the Polish Red Cross, in 1952, the remains of the Red Army soldiers were exhumed and no burial sites were left there.
Russia has bitterly opposed the removal of Soviet memorials in Poland but for many Poles they are unwanted reminders of totalitarian occupation and repression.
A few days after the Głubczyce monument was pulled down, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation launched an inquiry and threatened members of the IPN either with five years in a penal colony or with a RUB 5 million fine (EUR 60,000).