Poland and Russia Spar Over Wording of Memorial

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MOSCOW — Ceremonies on Sunday and Monday in memory of the president of Poland and dozens of the country’s top political and military leaders who died in an airplane crash a year ago are being overshadowed by a dispute between Russia and Poland over the wording of a memorial plaque.

Both nations had agreed to erect a memorial at the crash site in western Russia, and in preparation the Russians moved a large boulder to serve that purpose. President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other Polish officials, including members of Parliament, the chiefs of the army and navy, and the president of the national bank, died while traveling to commemorate an earlier tragedy near the spot: the Soviet massacre of Polish prisoners at Katyn Forest in 1940.

Relatives of the Polish victims took the initiative of affixing a sign to the boulder that said, in Polish, that Mr. Kaczynski and his entourage had died while traveling to commemorate “the Soviet crime of genocide against prisoners of war, Polish Army officers.”

But on Saturday, the governor of the Smolensk region, Sergei V. Antufyev, ordered the plaque removed. The main objection, he told Russian reporters on Sunday, was that it was in Polish, with no translation into Russian. While the replacement was in both languages, the wording was also changed. No mention was made of the reason the Polish officials had been traveling to the region....

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