Ex-Soviet Secret Police Aide Admits Role in 1940 Murder of Polish Officers

Associated Press

A former Soviet secret police commander has admitted his role in the murder of more than 6,000 Polish officers in World War II, according to a newspaper report Sunday.

London's Observer newspaper said that Vladimir Tokaryev, 89, made a videotaped statement describing how the NKVD police agency, the precursor of the KGB, killed 6,925 Polish officers in April, 1940.

He said 250 Poles were killed every night in secret police headquarters in Kalinin, about 100 miles northwest of Moscow.

The report was written by Nicholas Bethell, a historian and Conservative member of the European Parliament, who has also translated Russian literature.

Bethell said he had obtained videotapes of statements by Tokaryev and Pyotr Soprunenko, 83, who was identified as the NKVD officer in charge of Polish prisoners.

Soprunenko told of receiving an order from the Politburo, signed by Josef Stalin, ordering the executions, Bethell said.

Bethell said he obtained the tapes two week ago in Moscow, where he met with military prosecutors. A year ago, President Mikhail S. Gorbachev directed them to investigate the killings of some 15,000 Polish officers, including 3,897 at Katyn and 4,403 near Kharkov.

Bethell said the Soviet prosecutors are expected to recommend charges against Tokaryev and Soprunenko.

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