Re: “ ‘Katriuk and Meleshko were shooting people’ ” (Montreal Gazette, April 26, 2012).
Your article begins with the words: “New testimony gathered in the 1970s and 1980s from witnesses in Soviet-era court cases and from survivors’ reports … ”
The word “new” regarding “testimony gathered in the 1970s and 1980s” seems somewhat disingenuous. The Soviet propaganda machine was operating full throttle in those years, producing and disseminating disinformation to discredit émigré communities in the West, who kept denouncing human-rights abuses in the now late and unlamented U.S.S.R.
Digging up and manufacturing “evidence” of the involvement of émigrés in alleged war crimes was a prominent part of this strategy.
Vladimir Katriuk seems to have been one of those so targeted. His citizenship was not revoked by the Canadian cabinet because such “evidence” could not prove his involvement in the war crimes of which he was accused -- and which he has consistently denied.
Now it seems that some perceive the publication of Per Anders Rudling’s paper, based on the same evidence cited in your article, gives sufficient reason to summarily deport Mr. Katriuk.
And, if one misses the quotation marks in your headline, he appears to be already convicted of the alleged crimes.
It is an ironic coincidence that this story broke on the very day of a symposium at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa attended by religious leaders of Ukraine, including Ukraine’s chief rabbi, Yaakov Dov Bleich, to honour the late Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, who saved some 160 Jews, one of whom was an honoured guest at this event, from the Nazis.
Rt. Rev. Ihor G. Kutash
New testimony gathered in the 1970s and 1980s from witnesses in Soviet-era court cases and from survivors' reports strongly implicate Quebecer Vladimir Katriuk and other officers of the German militia in the massacre of 149 people in Khatyn, Belarus in March 1943.
"My mother and I stood right by the locked barn doors, and I could see between the planks of the barn wall how they piled up hay against the wall, which they then set on fire. When the burning roof caved in, the people and people's clothes caught on fire, everybody threw themselves against the doors, which broke open. The punitive squad stood around the barn and opened fire on the people, who were running in all directions."
"Vasiura (another officer) is remembered as having herded the residents of Khatyn into the barn and participated in the shooting. He placed (officers) Abdulaev, Hutsilo and Katriuk outside."
"The entire place was drenched in blood ... I saw how Ivankiv was firing with a machine gun upon the people who were running for cover in the forest, and how Katriuk and Meleshko were shooting the people lying on the road."
"Other than a young female, killed in a shootout outside Khatyn, and from whose dead body Katriuk reportedly gathered a watch, a bracelet and a small pistol, the (officers) did not find any partisans in the village. Very few people survived."
Source: Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Spring 2012 (The Khatyn Massacre in Belorussia: A Historical Controversy Revisited, by Per Anders Rudling).