Who murdered nearly 22,000 Polish citizens during the Katyn Massacre?
The Russian Federation has decided not to name or even symbolically punish those responsible for the Katyn Massacre. On 21 September 2004, the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation discontinued its Katyn investigation "in light of the death of the perpetrators". Their names have never been officially published, and the decision to discontinue the investigation, as well as many of materials linked to it have remain classified. However, based on known and published documents, we are able to identify some of them by name.
On March 5, 1940, the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) [TsK KPSS] decided that the cases of 14,700 people in the POW camps in Kozelsk, Starobelsk and Ostashkov, and the 11,000 civilians arrested, who had been imprisoned in "the Western oblasts of Ukraine and Belarus" should be dealt with according to a special procedure "without summoning those arrested and without presenting charges, the decision to close the investigation and the indictment", with the highest penalty to be applied – execution by shooting.
The grounds for the decision of the Politburo was a note from the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union, Lavrentiy Beria to the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Joseph Stalin. On the note, there are four handwritten signatures of the members of the Politburo "for" the decision: Joseph Stalin, Kliment Voroshilov, Vyacheslav Molotov, and Anastas Mikoyan, as well the other votes "for" by Mikhail Kalinin and Lazar Kaganovich noted on the side.
The processing of the cases and the adoption of the resolution was assigned to the “Troika” (Three [officials]) of the NKVD USSR composed of: the First Deputy of the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the NKVD USSR, Vsevolod Merkulov, the Deputy of the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the NKVD USSR, Bogdan Kobulov, and the Head of the 1st Special Department of the NKVD USSR, Leonid Bashtakov.
At least 125 NKVD officers were selected to prepare and carry out the massacres. On 26 October 1940 by secret order No. 001365, these NKVD officers were rewarded "for the successful completion of the special tasks" with an extra payment of their monthly salary or the amount of 800 rubles by Lavrentiy Beria. Among them were employees of both the central NKVD apparatus and the NKVD authorities in the Smolensk, Kalinin and Kharkiv regions, where the shooting of Polish prisoners of war took place.
Among the awarded people were Deputy Head of the NKVD Smolensk Oblast, Fyodor Ilin (Chizhov), Commander of the NKVD Smolensk Oblast, Iosif Gribov, Commander of the NKVD Kalinin Oblast, Andrei Rubanov, Commander of the NKVD Kharkiv Oblast, Timofey Kupriy and others.
Among those who were rewarded included the Deputy Head of the NKVD in the Smolensk Oblast, Fyodor Ilin (Chizhov), the Commander of the NKVD in the Smolensk Oblast, Iosif Gribov, the Commander of the NKVD in the Kalinin Oblast, Andrei Rubanov, the Commander of the NKVD in the Kharkiv Oblast, Timofey Kupriy and others.
We do not possess a similar list of those rewarded for committing crimes against the prisoners being imprisoned in the Ukrainian and Belarusian SSRs. However, on the basis of secret order No. 00350, "On the Liquidation of the NKVD prisons of the Western Regions of the UkSSR and BSSR," we know the names of the people directly responsible for the implementation of the murderous "Katyn decision".
In the case of the Ukrainian SSR, the persons responsible were: the Head of the Main Prison Administration of the NKVD, State Security Commissar, Pavel Zuyev, People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the UkSSR, Ivan Severov, and commander of the 13th Division of the NKVD Convoy Troops, Colonel Alexandr Zavialov. In the case of the Belarusian SSR: the Head of the Main Prison Administration of the NKVD, State Security Commissar, Alexander Chechov, the BSSR People's Commissar for Internal Affairs, Lavrentiy Tsanava, and the commander of the 15th Brigade of the NKVD Convoy Troops, Colonel P. S. Popov.
The USSR deputies of the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs, Vasily Chernyshov and Ivan Maslennikov were responsible for the transport and movement of the Polish POWs, as well as the Head of the Main Administration of Convoy Troops, Vladimir Sharapov.