The Murderers of Katyn

Vladimir Abarinov, Author Hippocrene Books $19.95 (396p) ISBN 978-0-7818-0032-7
As a Russian journalist who has been given free voice only recently, Abarinov seems to want to tell us everything he knows, no matter how irrelevant. The resulting book is so chaotic that even the most dedicated student of the Katyn massacre is likely to give up early on in frustration. In reconstructing the deaths of the Polish officers whose bodies were found by the Nazis in a mass grave in occupied Soviet territory near Smolensk in 1943, Abarinov, a correspondent for Literaturnaya Gazeta , moves from point A to B via X, L and S, frequently detouring to sideswipe other Moscow journalists who have written about Katyn. One is criticized for his ``exercises in belles-lettres,'' another is baldly deemed inaccurate; then, with cheek, Abarinov wraps himself in sanctity, noting: ``Naturally, any struggle for individual pre-eminence in covering such a theme as Katyn is completely out of place.'' As though Gorbachev in 1990 had not admitted Soviet culpability for the WW II genocide of some 15,000 Polish officers, Abarinov builds his own case against his country for the Katyn slaughter, then further leaves us to wonder about his attempt at investigative reporting when he concludes: ``No . . . unequivocal document has yet been discovered, nothing beyond indirect evidence. . . . We do not know the names of the criminals or the details of what was done.'' (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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