Estonian Minister Calls for International Investigations of Crimes Committed by Communists in Baltics, Poland and Elsewhere

Estonia’s justice minister has called for an international body to be formed in order to investigate Soviet Russian crimes, including those in Poland, in the same way that Nazi German crimes were investigated after the Second World War.

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The Estonian newspaper Post Times reports that Urmas Reinslau said those who committed crimes in the name of the Communist regime that controlled Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Baltic States, must be held to account for their actions.

Mr Resinslau told the newspaper: “We should assess the crimes of the Communist regime at the international level and join hands in making it liable. The crimes committed by any communist regimes do not fall under the jurisdiction of any international court now. Therefore, I suggest we conclude an interstate agreement to establish an international tribunal to investigate Communist crimes the same way as Nazi crimes.”

In Poland, there is already a law defining Communist Crimes (zbrodnie komunistyczne), which was passed in 1998 and has been revised several times. It defines such crimes as actions relating to political repression, violations of human rights and the falsification of documents, among others, committed between the time of the Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the fall of the Communist regime in 1989.

A national process of ‘lustration’ (cleansing) began in 1996 in Poland, with the intention of preventing former Communists from holding office in the post-Soviet era. However, the process has been beset by problems, most notably including the destruction or falsification of documents.

The National Institute of Remembrance in Poland also investigates ‘crimes against the Polish nation’, alleged against both Nazi German and Soviet Russian occupiers. The Institute began its work in the year 2000.

Among the most high-profile figures who was to be prosecuted was General Wojciech Jaruzelski, who declared Martial Law in 1981. He, however, escaped trial, due to ill health. He died in 2014. Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa was also accused of working with the Soviet authorities, but he cleared his name in court, after showing that papers incriminating him had been falsified.

Picture: 1982 – Solidarity members carry dying colleague Michał Adamowicz away from a protest in Lublin, where he had been shot in the head by police. He died a few days later in hospital.