Sergey Fridinsky, Russia’s chief military prosecutor officially confirmed that when the investigation into the Katyn massacre was closed back in 2004, the Russian prosecution brought no charges against Joseph Stalin or other leaders of the former Soviet Union. Fridinsky, who is also a deputy prosecutor general, made that statement official in a document from August 2, 2010, issued to Viktor Ilyukhin, then deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on constitutional legislation.
According to the document reached by PAP, “Solid evidence proving the officers guilty of a crime as stipulated in article 193-17, point b (abuse of power), of RSFRR (Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic) criminal code, was quoted in a court order from September 21, 2004 to close the investigation number 159, due to the death of Soviet Union’s NKVD (The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs) executive officers it concerned. No decision was made regarding the government of Soviet Union.”
Fidrinsky also informed Ilyukhin, that the first order to close the investigation into the Katyn massacre, from July 13, 1994, was annulled because it violated the norms of the criminal code and criminal procedures code. “The court order issued on July 13, 1994, to close the investigation (number 159 – PAP) was immediately annulled due to the order violating the norms of the criminal code and the criminal procedures code,” wrote Russia’s chief military prosecutor to the deputy chairman, adding that “the investigation was re-opened and the entire documentation of the investigation was handed over to another military prosecutor in the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office.”
Back in 1994, the reason to close the investigation into the Katyn massacre was also the death of the guilty officers. Nevertheless, Colonel Anatolij Jablokov, then in charge of Russian Chief Military Prosecutor’s investigative team, still charged Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Kliment Voroshilov, Anastas Mikoyan, Mikhail Kalinin, Lazar Kaganovich, Lavrenti Beria and other NKVD executive officers with the crime.
Jablokov considered them, as he did consider those who performed the killings directly, guilty of the crimes, as stipulated in the Statute of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, article 6, points a, b and c (crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity). Such was the legal classification of Katyn massacre declared by the Soviet Union, when it attempted to attribute the criminal liability to Germany during the Nuremberg Trials in 1945-46. On July 16, 1994, the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office and the Prosecutor’s General Office of the Russian Federation annulled Jablokov’s decision and commissioned a different prosecutor, Sergey Schalamevov, to lead further investigation.
Due to death of the guilty officers, the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office closed the investigation for the second time on September 21, 2004. The decision to close the investigation was kept secret by Russia for over 6 months and it was eventually made public on March 11, 2005, by General Aleksander Savenkov, then Chief Military Prosecutor.
Savenkov also informed at the time that most of the investigation documentation as well as the order to close it had become classified as confidential data. Therefore, the list of individuals found guilty remained undisclosed, and it was confirmed that only few of them were from the management of Soviet Union’s NKVD. The Memorial Society fiercely criticized the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office at the time for not revealing the names of guilty officers.
The Memorial Society concluded that “this was the way Stalin and other members of Politburo, who ordered the mass execution of Polish citizens, were deemed innocent of the Katyn massacre. The massacre itself, which was in fact an act of state terrorism performed on Soviet Union’s government’s orders, is now considered as abuse of power by single individuals of the government’s executive management.