There are symbolic acts that humiliate a nation much more than a bombing and Putin is aware that the removal of the Polish flag from the monument to the victims of Katyn is one of them. On June 24, the mayor of Smolensk, Andrei Borisov, wrote on his VKontakte social media profile that "there should be no Polish flags on Russian monuments", announcing at the same time the removal of the red and white banner from the memorial of Katyn, in Russian territory. Borisov reported that the Russian Ministry of Culture had made the decision, which was carried out a few hours later. “I believe that the ministry has made the only correct decision: to withdraw the Polish flag. Katyn is a Russian monument, it is Russian history », he celebrated.
The Katyn Forest massacre, one of the largest massacres carried out by Russian soldiers during World War II, is part of the constitutional identity of the Polish nation and its monument is a sanctuary of the national spirit.
Precisely during an official pilgrimage in memory of the 22,000 victims of that massacre, the Polish president and twin brother of the strong man in the shadow of the party now in power, Lech Kaczynski, who has since passed to the category of national hero, also died. His death took place in a mysterious plane crash in 2010, when the Tupolev 154M in which they were traveling, in addition to the President of Poland, the first lady, the Ombudsman Janusz Kochanowski, the president of the National Bank of Poland Slawomir Skrzypek, the head of the National Security Office Aleksander Szczyglo, the head of the Polish Air Force Lieutenant General Andrzej Blasik, the commander of the Army Ground Forces Major General Tadeusz Buk, the chief of the General Staff General Franciszek Gagor, the Commander-in-Chief of the Special Forces General Wlodzinierz Patasinski, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy Vice Admiral Andrezej Karweta, the Rector of the University of Warsaw Ryszard Rumianek and Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, in addition to a long list of prominent judicial figures and 17 parliamentarians.
If the Polish victims of the Russian Katyn massacre of 1940 were mostly officers, politicians and intellectuals whom the Russian secret police NKVD killed with a shot to the neck and buried in mass graves previously dug by themselves, in 2010 the The Polish state was left headless again and in the Kaczynski circle Putin has always been blamed for having simulated an accident where what happened was an attack. The withdrawal of the Polish band from such a marked memorial has now been received in Warsaw as an open insult and provocation.
The director of the Museum of Contemporary Russian History, Irina Velikianova, whose institution maintains the Polish military cemetery in Katyn, lamented that "the removal of Polish flags from the war cemeteries in Katyn and Mednoye is retaliation for Poland's policy towards Russia". "The two flags, the Russian and the Polish, were symbols of friendship between our countries. What is happening today has nothing to do with friendship », she confirmed yesterday sadly. "This is another act of hostility from the Kremlin and an element of the anti-Polish campaign that has been carried out for many years," said Stanisław Żaryn, a spokesman for the minister who coordinates special services. According to him, Russia's actions are a test for the NATO countries of their policy of deliberate confrontation with Western countries. “A country like Russia is and will continue to be hostile towards Europe. This latest act of hostility only confirms this recognition that we in Poland have identified for many years," he said.