The Times on removal of plaque commemorating Tver executions of Poles

The plaque, located on a building that used to house the NKVD headquarters, commemorated Polish inmates of the Ostashkov POW camp in western Russia, who were executed in the building during World War II. Artem Vazhenkov/Facebook

British national daily The Times on Monday ran a commentary on the recent removal by Russian nationalists of a plaque commemorating 6,000 Polish officer POWs murdered in 1940 by the Soviet NKVD security police in Tver, a city some 180 km north-west of Moscow.

The plaque, located on a building that used to house the NKVD headquarters, commemorated Polish inmates of the Ostashkov POW camp in western Russia, who were executed in the building during World War II.

The British daily wrote that the plaque was installed in the early 1990s by human rights activists. The Tver killings were part of a broader wave of executions of Polish POWs in western Russia, collectively known as the Katyn Forest Massacre, which took the lives of around 22,000 Polish nationals, mainly army and police officers, administration staff and intellectuals.

The Times also said that the Soviets put the blame for the executions on the Germans for decades after World War II, until the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's 1990 admission that they had been committed by the NKVD. In 2010 the Russian parliament issued a declaration blaming the killings on the Soviet Union's wartime strongman Joseph Stalin.

The daily also noted that Russian expiations of Stalin's crimes became scarce in the wake of Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and the resulting tension between Moscow and the West. Consequently, the daily wrote, the prosecution in Tver announced last year that the plaque commemorating the 6,000 Poles "was not founded on documented facts."

The Tver incident has also been sharply condemned by the Federation of Katyn Families, an organisation grouping relatives and descendants of the Katyn Forest Massacre victims. In an appeal to the Polish authorities, the organisation demanded decisive steps in the matter.