Mending Polish-Russian relations

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More than twenty thousand Polish prisoners of war were murdered by the Soviet secret police in 1940. It's called the Katyn massacre. Now for the first time the Russian government has invited a Polish leader to commemorate the Katyn massacre. Anchor Marco Werman has details.

MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman, this is The World. It was 70 years ago that more than 20,000 Polish prisoners of war were massacred in Katyn near the Russian city of Smolensk. But it wasn't until 1990 that soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev admitted that the crimes had been committed by Joseph Stalin's secret police. It wasn't until two years later that President Boris Yeltsin released evidence that proved soviet responsibility and it wasn't until today that Russia invited a Polish leader to commemorate the massacre. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attended the ceremony with his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk. Former foreign minister, Adam Rotfeld, says it was an important gesture.

ADAM ROTFELD: The process was initiated by Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Both of them did not have enough courage to invite Polish, the President or Polish Prime Minister to come to Katyn and what Vladimir Putin has done, it is a kind of signal that something is changing.

WERMAN: For 50 years the Soviet Union blamed the crime on the Nazis. Poland's Communist government played along with the lie. Jolanta Klimowicz-Osmanczyk was nine when her father was captured.

JOLANTA KLIMOWICZ-OSMANCZYK: Losing a father, somebody whom I loved very much, deeply, and you know what was most painful? That it was impossible to search and to talk about the case. The problem didn't exist.

WERMAN: Perhaps today's ceremony will be a step toward relieving some of that pain.