Polish diplomats barred from laying flowers in Russian city of Tver

Polish diplomats barred from laying flowers in Russian city of Tver Paweł Supernak/PAP

Polish diplomats will not be allowed to lay flowers at a building that once was the local headquarters of the dreaded Soviet secret police NKVD, charge d'affaires of the Polish Embassy in Moscow Jacek Sladewski said.

The diplomats wanted to commemorate Polish victims of the Soviet regime in Tver, a city some 180 km north-west of Moscow.

Polish embassy officials place flowers at the building every year on September 2, the anniversary of the opening of the Polish War Cemetery in Mednoye, some 30 km north-west of Tver, where the Polish victims are buried.

The embassy officials have not been allowed to pay tribute to those killed by the NKVD for the first time, Sladewski said.

"We received an explanation that quoted restrictions connected with Covid-19," the diplomat said. Another reason, he added, is the fact that the plaque that used to commemorate the victims of the Katyn massacre of Polish POWs by the NKVD is no longer there.

In May, activists connected with the National Liberation Movement (NOD), a nationalist organisation calling for the restoration of Russia's sovereignty and its former strength, removed the plaque, sparking protests from the Polish government. The plaque commemorated the Polish victims of the Soviet regime, prisoners of the Ostashkov POW camp, who were killed in the building during World War II.

Last year, a regional prosecutor's office asked Tver city authorities to remove both plaques, arguing they had been placed on the building in breach of regulations.