Friday, 29 April 2022 19:00
Estonian Life No. 17 2022 - Laas Leivat
Millions of TV viewers, outside of Russia, are now aware of the atrocities Russian troops have committed in Bucha and in many other Ukrainian towns and villages.
We have seen the documented evidence of the constant, deliberate targeting of hospitals, schools, theatres, residences etc. We have heard the unencrypted radio talk between soldiers engaged in the deliberate murder of civilians and war prisoners. We know of the military honours bestowed upon those involved in the most heinous war crimes in Ukraine. We have even heard of some Russian mothers urging their sons on to further barbarities.
The massacre in Bucha brought the crimes of Russian soldiers starkly into everyone’s livingroom. Bucha had been occupied by Russians for one month. After taking back the town from the invaders, Ukrainian troops uncovered mass graves of civilians with hands ziplocked behind their backs and women who had been raped before being murdered.
No one expected the Russians to acknowledge it’s barbarity. Russia’s UN representative denied any allegation as a “provocation”. But that was an echo of a very similar denial from over 50 years ago, when Moscow insisted that the massacre of 4,000 Polish officers it committed in the Katyn Forest during the beginning of WWII was committed by the Nazis.
The Soviets even attempted to include Katyn among the accusations facing Nazi leaders in the prosecution’s list of war crimes to be tried at Nuremburg. This would have made their false accusation part of the charges of the official allied powers case against German perpetrators.
Nazi documents and witness testimony at Nuremberg ruling out the Russian version of the Katyn murders were not examined. Because the evidence was held by the Soviets and post-war Poland was under Moscow’s control, the damaging evidence was held by the USSR.
Even though Western investigations and studies, initiated by Polish organizations in exile, exposed the Russian role in Katyn, it was categorically denied by the Kremlin. Nikita Khrushchev, the purported proponent of “de-Stalinization, received a top-secret letter from Alexander Shelepin, the head of the KGB, which indisputably confirmed that the Soviets planned and killed the Polish officers. In fact Soviet archives revealed that Russians killed 21,857 Polish citizens in 1940.
Only in April of 1990, after considerable documentation was uncovered 50 years later, evidence that Moscow was no longer able to refute, did the Soviet Union, under Mikhail Gorbachev, finally acknowledge its culpability in the massacres. Must the world wait for another half century for Moscow to admit to Bucha and numerous other crimes?
(Read more: Estonian Life No. 17 2022 paber- and PDF/digi