Czech, Lithuanian officials united with Poland on Katyn and Smolensk anniversary

Czech President Miloš Zeman and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius sent letters to their Polish counterparts Andrzej Duda and Jacek Czaputowicz saying that they stand together with Poland during the 10th anniversary of Smolensk air crash and the 80th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.

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“Even ten years after this tragedy, the heartbreak of the Polish nation is still very great,” wrote the Czech president in a letter devoted to the anniversary of the Smolensk air crash. He stated that he personally felt the intensity of this tragedy, “the greatest in the recent history of Poland,” while laying flowers at the monument to the victims at Piłsudski Square in Warsaw in May 2018.

Mr Zeman also sent another letter, referring to the 80th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre. “I assure you that, even after 80 years, this crime has not been forgotten,” he wrote. “This massacre still causes outrage, as do all crimes committed by totalitarian regimes,” the Czech President added.

“It is our shared responsibility to safeguard freedom and democracy so that such crimes never occur again,” Mr Zeman stressed. He added that in connection with the anniversary, he and the Czech people were united with Poles.

The Lithuanian FM Linas Linkevičius wrote a letter to Jacek Czaputowicz, his Polish counterpart.

“We commemorate, together with all of Poland, the 80th anniversary of the bloody Katyn massacre and the 10th anniversary of the Smolensk tragedy, and express our sincere support and solidarity,” the Lithuanian official wrote.

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He stressed that the massacre of over 22,000 Polish officers and representatives of the intelligentsia committed by the NKVD Soviet secret police in Katyn, western Russia, and other locations in the spring of 1940, was a tragic loss for Poland and that its long-standing denial and the concealment of its perpetrators had dealt a powerful blow to the families of the victims.

“Such barbaric crimes cannot be repeated. The truth cannot be left untold. No matter how cruel it may be, it cannot be hidden,” Mr Linkevičius wrote in his letter.

He added that Lithuania also commemorated “the Polish heroes, who tragically died on April 10, 2010, in the Smolensk catastrophe.”

On April 10, 2010, Polish Presidential plane Tu-154 crashed near Smolensk, western Russia, killing all 96 people on board, including Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife and numerous high-ranking officials and military commanders.

The Polish delegation on that day was en route to Katyń, the location where Soviet secret services conducted a mass murder of Polish officers. Around 22,000 Poles were killed by the order of Joseph Stalin in April and May 1940.