30/07/2014 - 16:02

Kremlin denials implausible (again)

30/07/2014 - 16:02


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THE Australian government should demand that full monetary compensation be paid to families of each Australian citizen who perished when Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

Kremlin denials implausible (again)
Joe Poprzeczny

International pressure must not waver in efforts to get to the bottom of the MH17 disaster, and those responsible must be held accountable.

The Australian government should demand that full monetary compensation be paid to families of each Australian citizen who perished when Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

That reparation should, of course, be forthcoming from Russia, with the fingerprints of that nation’s military all over the supply and operation of the high-altitude guided missiles used by separatists in Ukraine.

Let’s hope Malaysia has the backing of Islamic governments (minus Syria and Iran, of course) worldwide for full compensation for its aircraft and for the killing of the flight’s crew members.

Hopefully the governments of the other nationals who perished on flight MH17 will join in any such claim for compensation.

Proclamations of sympathy and diplomatic protests are one thing. Payment of compensation for lives lost is another.

If Australia takes the lead in this regard the Kremlin would face payouts in the many millions of dollars, in addition to covering the cost of the Boeing 777.

But never forget that no matter how incontrovertible the evidence against Russia already is, and will increasingly become, the Kremlin’s default position is always outright denial.

The most infamous case of this longstanding practice is the wilful wartime killing of some 22,000 captured Polish military and other personnel, referred to by historians as the Katyn Massacre.

“The [Katyn] massacre was prompted by NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria’s proposal to execute all captive members of the Polish Officer Corps, dated 5 March 1940, approved by the Soviet Politburo, including its leader, Joseph Stalin,” says one account.

“The number of victims is estimated at about 22,000.

“The victims were murdered in the Katyn Forest in Russia, the Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons and elsewhere.

“Of the total killed, about 8,000 were officers taken prisoner during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, another 6,000 were police officers, and the rest were arrested Polish intelligentsia the Soviets deemed to be ‘intelligence agents, gendarmes, landowners, saboteurs, factory owners, lawyers, officials and priests’.”

However, when the telltale network of mass graves was accidently discovered in 1943 by German forces that had reached the Katyn Forest region in late 1941, the Kremlin’s immediate response was to claim the Germans had murdered the Poles.

Despite wartime related evidence gathered by Red Cross-supervised exhumation teams, plus ongoing post-war revelations that conclusively showed the crime was the work of the NKVD (the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs), the Kremlin insisted Germans were the culprits.

Later, at the Nuremberg trials, Soviet lawyers even attempted to lay the Katyn killings at the feet of the Germans.

However, that move was quietly blocked because even though the wartime Roosevelt and Churchill governments had kowtowed to Stalin’s claims of innocence, their post-war successor officials felt too embarrassed to back what had been known all along to be a typical Kremlin lie.

It wouldn’t be until early 1990, 50 years on, that the Soviet Union “formally expressed ‘profound regret’ and admitted Soviet secret police responsibility” for the wilful murder of those captured Poles.

Today, the Kremlin, headed by a former KGB officer Vladimir Putin, is opting for the same old ploy by blaming the Ukrainians for downing flight MH17.

In other words it’s most unlikely that an occupant of the Kremlin will accept responsibility for the murder of 38 Australians and the 260 other nationals any time soon.

President Putin and his ruling clique, like their Stalinist and post-Stalinist predecessors of the 1940s until 1990, can be expected to behave in exactly the same way.

The Kremlin’s long-practiced modus operandi is sure to be with us for decades to come.

But notwithstanding the fact that such a deceitful tradition confronts us, we mustn’t buckle.

Australia should formally lodge a statement of claims on behalf of the families of the 38 Australian nationals who perished over eastern Ukraine.

And it should be made absolutely clear that that claim will never expire.

It’s simply inadequate to erect a memorial, or affix, somewhere, a plaque to remember the innocent 38, as was done after the 2005 Bali bombings in Bali.

Poland today has many Katyn Forest memorials and many others reminding post-war generations of Poles of their forebears’ encounters with Stalinism as well as the Nazis.

Although valuable as reminders of what earlier generations had endured, such acts unfortunately concede somewhat to the culprits.

The only embarrassment Mr Putin is likely to have to endure over coming years is an inability to have free and unfettered travel worldwide, if some countries decide he’s no longer welcome to visit their shores.

Is he, for instance, likely to attend the coming G20 Summit scheduled for Brisbane this November?

I doubt it.

But embarrassment of that nature is easily hidden since Russia’s state-controlled media won’t report such outcomes.

What would be far more difficult to hide are compensation payments for the 298 Kremlin-inspired deaths over the part of Ukraine that he’s laid claim to and is clandestinely contesting.


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