News / Europe

Russia Honors Revered Polish Director for Katyn Forest Film

Russia has bestowed one of its highest honors on Polish film maker Andrzej Wajda, whose cinematic credits include a controversial film about a 1940 Soviet massacre of thousands of Poles.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev honored the Oscar-winning director with the Order of Friendship for his cinematic contributions to Russian-Polish relations.

Wajda's 2007 film Katyn depicts the World War II killings of more than 20,000 Polish military officers and intellectuals near the modern-day Russian city of Smolensk.  The movie premiered in Warsaw last September.  

Post-war Moscow for decades blamed Nazi forces for the massacre, until the Soviet Union's last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, acknowledged Soviet responsibility in 1990.

The 84-year-old Wajda - whose father was killed in the massacre - says the truth covered up in classified Soviet documents had stretched already taut relations between the two countries for decades.

Russia banned the 2007 film until the 70th anniversary of the massacre in April.  

The honor follows the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and other dignitaries who were killed in an April 10 plane crash near the Katyn forest.  The entourage was headed to a memorial service honoring those killed in the massacre when their plane crashed in heavy fog.

Wajda won an American Academy Award in 2000 for his overall contributions to cinematography.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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