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    Russia hands over new declassified Katyn massacre files to Poland

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    The Russian Prosecutor General's Office handed over to Poland on Thursday 11 volumes of declassified documents related to the massacre of over 20,000 Polish prisoners of war in Western Russia in 1940, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office said.

    The Russian Prosecutor General's Office handed over to Poland on Thursday 11 volumes of declassified documents related to the massacre of over 20,000 Polish prisoners of war in Western Russia in 1940, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office said.

    The Katyn massacre, in which 21,000 Poles, including officers, police and civilians taken prisoner during the 1939 partitioning of Poland by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were killed, remains one of the most painful issues in Russian-Polish relations.

    The documents handed over to Poland contain conviction and burial certificates of those killed in the Katyn Forest, near the western Russian city of Smolensk, and other data related to the massacre.

    Last year, Russia handed over to Poland hundreds of files of its investigation into the killing of the Polish POWs.

    The Soviet Union always blamed the massacre on the Nazis, saying the killings took place in 1941, when the territory was in German hands. However, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev formally admitted in 1990 that the executions took place around 1940, and were carried out by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD.

    In the 1990s, Russia handed over to Poland copies of archive documents from the top-secret File No.1, which placed the blame solely on the Soviet Union. In September 1990, Russian prosecutors also launched a criminal case into the massacre, known as "Case No.159." The investigation was closed in 2004.

    In November 2010, lawmakers from the lower house of Russia's parliament approved a declaration recognizing the Katyn massacre as a crime committed by Joseph Stalin's regime. Poland has hailed the move.

    MOSCOW, April 7 (RIA Novosti)

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