KIEV, Ukraine -- Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski will visit the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Saturday to commemorate the 1940 massacre of about 4,000 Polish officers by the Soviet secret police NKVD.
Komorowski, who was elected president following the death of former president Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash in western Russia in April, will attend a memorial mass and wreath-laying ceremony along with Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.
According to declassified WWII documents, Soviet leadership approved a proposal by NKVD chief Lavrenty Beria, dated March 5, 1940, to execute all members of the Polish Officer Corps.
The executions took place in various parts of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The largest massacre occurred in the Katyn forest near the Russian city of Smolensk.
In Ukraine, the Soviet secret police took the Polish officers from the Starobelsk camp near Kharkiv, shot them in the inner NKVD Kharkiv prison and buried their bodies outside of the city.
The mass murder of thousands of Polish officers, police and civilians taken prisoner during the 1939 partitioning of Poland by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, remains one of the most painful issues in Russian-Polish relations.