Far-left group may face charges for spreading Stalinist views on Katyn massacre

A far-left Czech grouping, the Communist Youth Union, faces a criminal complaint over a report on the Katyn massacre posted on its website. The report, compiled by the Soviet authorities during WWII, blames the 1940 mass murder of thousands of Polish officers on the Nazis. However, a Czech senator believes that under Czech law, this constitutes the crime of denying genocide, and has filed a criminal complaint against the far-left group.

The Katyn massacre
Until 1990, the Soviet Union claimed that around 22,000 Polish army officers, whose bodies were found in mass graves in the Katyn Forest during WWII, had been murdered by the Nazis. After the end of the Cold War, however, Soviet officials admitted the crime was carried out by Stalin’s secret police, and expressed ‘profound regret’ over the murders.

In April, a Czech far-left group, the Communist Youth Union, posted a report on the crime compiled by a Soviet commission in 1944, which claims that the Polish officers were executed by the Nazis. The document’s publication on the union’s website led Senator Jiří Oberfalzer, together with two other people, to file a criminal complaint against the group. Mr Oberfalzer believes that by publishing the Stalinist report, the Communist Youth Union is denying genocide, a criminal act under the Czech law.

“In our lay opinion, this does constitute a criminal act and it needs to be prosecuted. The Communist Youth Union must be first of all prevented from carrying on with this. The authorities should determine the person responsible for this breach of law, and punish them. We have petitioned the prosecution, and we expect them to act.”

Although Moscow has never acknowledged that the Katyn massacre was actually genocide, Senator Obefalzer notes that the responsibility for the murders has been established, and recognized by all sides.

“In April, Russian Prime Minister Putin expressed his regrets to the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, over the crime, calling it a ‘crime of communism’ and Stalin’s personal vengeance. The country symbolically assumed responsibility for the crime, thus ending all debates on whether it was a crime by the Nazis or the Communists. But the Communist Youth Unions still adheres to the Stalinist interpretation of the events.”

Six years ago, the Czech Interior Ministry banned the Communist Youth Union over parts of its programme, which call for ‘revolutionary overcoming’ of capitalism. In January 2010 the ban was lifted by the Czech Constitutional Court. Members of the group could not be reached for comment. If prosecuted and found guilty, they could be sentenced for up to three years in jail.