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Russian Rights Group Denied Information On Katyn Massacre

The main Katyn memorial in Russia

The main Katyn memorial in Russia

MOSCOW -- The Russian government has rejected a request by the human rights organization Memorial for access to classified information about the World War II-era Katyn massacre, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Aleksandr Guryanov, the director of Memorial's branch in Poland, said on July 13 that the refusal was issued by the Interdepartmental Commission for the Defense of Government Secrets.

The commission claimed that human rights organizations do not have the right to such information.

In April, the Russian government announced it would make previously classified files on Katyn available to the public.

That announcement came in the wake of the April 10 plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of top Polish officials en route to a ceremony in Russia marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.

A Moscow federal court is also currently considering a suit filed by several human rights activists regarding the Russian Military Prosecutor's Office encryption of information on the Katyn massacre. The activists say such encryption will prevent them from studying the massacre.

In April-May 1940, more than 21,000 Polish nationals were executed by the Soviet secret police, or NKVD, in a forest near the Russian village of Katyn, which is west of Smolensk and 60 kilometers from the Belarusian border.