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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Poles Upset by 'Stalinist' Take on History

The L.A. Times:

A Polish magazine has called on its readers to send Russian President Vladimir Putin a postcard depicting him as the long-nosed lying fairy tale character Pinocchio for presenting a "Stalinist version of history."

The campaign comes amid a rise of anti-Russian sentiment in Poland and drew a statement of concern from Russia's foreign ministry about a "worsening atmosphere" in bilateral ties. Many in Poland were angered by Putin's May 9 Red Square speech marking the end of World War II in Europe, in which he failed to condemn the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland as many had hoped.

In response, this week's issue of Wprost magazine comes with a pre-addressed postcard that reads "With greetings for Putinocchio" above the computer-generated image.

On the other side, a brief text in Polish and Russian asks Putin to apologize for failing to condemn the 1939 secret Nazi-Soviet pact, which set the stage for World War II.

The card also said Poles felt humiliated that Putin thanked the Italian and German anti-fascist resistance but failed to mention the Polish sacrifice.

Ties between the two countries have been strained in recent months.

Russia was irked at Poland's intervention in the Ukrainian presidential election crisis last year, which led to the victory of pro-Western opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

Formerly Communist Poland joined the European Union last year and has been one of the strongest supporters for Ukraine's EU membership hopes under Yushchenko, as he seeks to steer his former Soviet republic away from Russia's influence.

Russia, meanwhile, raised Poland's ire in March when the country's top military prosecutor said an investigation into the 1940 Katyn forest executions of 21,768 Polish military officers, intellectuals and priests had concluded that the massacre did not constitute genocide. The Soviet secret police executed the prisoners, taken during the invasion of Poland, on Josef Stalin's orders.


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