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Katyn massacre claims more victims

By Laurie Bennett

April 10, 2010 at 9:53am

Rarely does history echo as dramatically as it did today in Poland.

On their way to commemorate the anniversary of the 1940 Katyn massacre, members of the nation’s top leadership, including President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, were killed in a plane crash.

The dead included the governor of Poland’s Central Bank, its army chief of staff, its deputy foreign minister and head of the National Security Office.

Some of the people on board were relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre. The Associated Press reports that the dead also included Anna Walentynowicz, the former Gdansk shipyards worker whose firing in 1980 launched the Solidarity movement in Poland.

Kaczynski’s identical twin brother, Jaroslaw, former prime minister of Poland and head of the Law and Justice party, was not on the plane.

The aircraft went down near the airport in Smolensk, Russia, not far from the Katyn woods where Soviets killed thousands of Polish prisoners during World War II.

For decades, Moscow denied the mass murders. Just three days ago, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin became the first Russian leader to attend an event paying tribute to those who died.

Today Putin assumed responsibility for the Russian investigation of the plane crash.

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