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Russia court rules against investigation of 1940 Poland massacre

[JURIST] A Moscow court Monday rejected an attempt by relatives of Polish victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre [CNN backgrounder; Poland backgrounder] to renew investigations into the killings. The government of Mikhail Gorbachev [Guardian profile] admitted in 1990 that Josef Stalin had personally ordered [documents, in Russian] the secret police to carry out the killings. Russia had previously blamed the Nazis for the incident, in which more than 20,000 Polish Army reservists, academics and politicians were killed in the Katyn Forest in present-day Belarus, as well as other locations. The Moscow City Court's Monday ruling upheld an earlier lower court ruling [RIA Novosti report] denying the appeal. A lawyer for the family members said they will appeal to the district military court. Reuters has more.

The Polish Institute of National Remembrance [official website] has long sought to convince the Russian government to apply its law on the "rehabilitation of victims of political repressions" to the Katyn victims, but suits have so far been unsuccessful. Russia's own 10-year investigation of the massacre ended in 2004 when the government closed its classified files and said the crime's statute of limitations had expired. In 2006, the families filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the European Court of Human Rights [official website], asking it to classify the incident as genocide and compel the Russian government to disclose its information.

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