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Secret documents detailing the Soviet leadership’s decision to murder 22,000 Polish officers at Katyn were released to the Russian public today on orders from President Medvedev. In an unprecedented step, the Russian State Archive published documents showing how Soviet leader Joseph Stalin approved the World War Two massacre proposed by his secret police henchman Lavrenty Beria. Other prominent members of the ruling Soviet Politburo also signed off on the slaughter.
A four-page document sent to Stalin by Beria, head of the NKVD, the predecessor to the KGB, sets out his proposal to “quickly examine the use of the highest means of punishment – death by shooting”. Stalin’s signature and a red “top secret” stamp are visible on the front page.
More than 100 volumes of documents relating to a criminal investigation into the Katyn massacre remain classified, however, despite Polish requests for them to be released.