President Duda kneels at the memorial to victims of Zaleszany massacre
Poland's President Andrzej Duda visited the village of Zaleszany in Podlasie region, where in 1946 a military unit of Romuald Rajs, nom de guerre "Bury", killed 16 residents, including women and children. Members of local Belarusian minority said they witnessed a historic and very moving event.
"This place is marked with suffering and death of Belarusians who lived in the Republic of Poland, it is a place where people died, innocent women and children. I prayed there today for those who had perished. As President of Poland, I laid a wreath at the cross which commemorates the victims from decades ago. It's important as an element of paying respects, important as commemoration, but also important in this probably crucial, spiritual aspect" - said president Duda.
"It was a historic moment. And very moving. For the first time Poland's head of state kneeled at the memorial cross for the victims of this crime, which has taken the whole case to a completely new level" - said Aleh Latyshonak, a history professor from Białystok University, chief of the Belarusian History Society.
"The president's visit is a result of a meeting between him and members of Belarusian minority which took place on March 26 at the Presidential Palace. At the time we discussed the difficult situation in Belarus, but also the controversy which "Bury" still raises in Podlasie. The president promised to visit as soon as possible. Although he didn't mention he would visit Zaleszany, but he made it clear he would make an important gesture" - the professor said.
Can this gesture be read as a signal for groups which organise marches in memory of the Cursed Soldiers that it's not right to pay tribute to "Bury"? "Let's be realistic as to whether the marches will stop, however the president has stated clearly which side he's on. And that's something to celebrate" - prof. Latyshonak argued.
Romuald Rajs, nom de guerre "Bury", was a Polish soldier and anti-communist insurgent. Rajs was a member of Home Army and National Military Union.
In 1946 the unit under his command burned several Belarusian villages in the region of Białystok and massacred about 79 villagers
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP
Źródło zdjęcia głównego: TVN24