Putin spox claims no knowledge of Polish scholar's expulsion by Russia


2017-11-27 15:50 aktualizacja: 2018-09-30, 15:12
On Monday, Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the Kremlin had no knowledge of the recent detention and expulsion from Russia of Henryk Glebocki, a historian with Poland's Institute for National Remembrance (IPN).

Glebocki was detained by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) in Moscow on Friday. The Russian authorities "read out to him the FSB's decision of November 21, under which the historian was ordered to leave the country within 24 hours of being notified, or face forced deportation", IPN told PAP on Sunday.


Later on Sunday, the historian himself confirmed to PAP he had been expelled from Russia on Friday and was now back in Poland.


Asked about the incident at a Monday press conference, Peskov responded: "we are not aware of it here at the Kremlin. Decisions in such matters are not made at the Kremlin".


Earlier on Monday, Russia's TASS news agency quoted anonymous sources as saying the IPN scholar's expulsion from the country came on the heels of a similar decision by Poland in October, when Warsaw told Russian scholar Dmitry Karnaukhov to leave its borders.


Also on Monday, other Russian news outlets reported on Glebocki's forced withdrawal from Russia, which had been publicised by the IPN on Sunday.


As IPN noted, "the reasons for the FSB's order were not specified, nor is there any possibility of appeal, and the decision also represents a ban on further entry to Russia".


Staying in the country since November 14, the Polish historian had been searching archives and libraries for material on Polish-Russian relations in the 19th and 20th century. He has been studying the topic since 1993, publishing several scientific papers in the process.


IPN revealed Glebocki also gave two open lectures at the invitation of the Polish Institute in St Petersburg. These focused on the fate of the Polish people and on the Soviet secret police (NKVD)'s so-called Polish Operation of 1937-38 (see: NOTE). In the latter drive, carried out as part of the campaign of Great Terror, some 200,000 people - according to Glebocki himself - were killed simply for being Polish.


The two speeches were delivered at the headquarters of the St Petersburg Memorial and in the Polish Institute in the city - on November 22 and 23, respectively - IPN stated.


Speaking to PAP on Sunday evening, the historian said that despite some sensationalistic media reporting, "I have been in Poland since yesterday and nothing is really happening, other than I have indeed been expelled from the Russian Federation within 24 hours, with an effective ban on further entry".


Glebocki said he had planned to stay in Russia until December 10, as he continues to research several upcoming publications - on Imperial Russia's policy towards the co-called Polish question in the 19th century and the Soviet Union's policy towards the Polish people in the 20th century, among other topics.


The historian explained that the detention took place at the railway station in Moscow, following his return from lectures in St Petersburg.


After being escorted to a room full of FSB officials, he was presented - without prior search or interrogation, but in front of a TV camera - with a document dated November 21, "ordering withdrawal from the Russian Federation within 24 hours".


Glebocki was asked to sign the document, but - just as in his dealings with Poland's communist security services before 1989 - he refused to do so, "unless representatives from the Polish embassy are present".


Thus three FSB officials left their signatures, whereupon "they cut the document in half, keeping the part with the signatures to themselves and giving the rest of this tattered note to me".


"This is how this brief meeting ended", the historian said.


The FSB's move blocks access to Russian archives, his employer, the IPN, assessed. Yet such sources are indispensable as Glebocki continues his almost 25-year-long study into the history of Polish-Russian relations.


The historian combines a position at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow (southern Poland) with serving as head expert of the Historical Research Bureau in IPN's Krakow office.


For his part, Karnaukhov, who represents the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), was told to leave Poland on October 11. At the time, Stanislaw Zaryn, the spokesman for Poland's Minister for Coordinating the Special Services, Mariusz Kaminski, explained that "according to the Internal Security Agency (ABW), the man had been engaging in activities targeted against Polish interests, initiating hybrid-war moves against Poland, as well as keeping in contact with Russian intelligence services".


In response, Russia's Foreign Ministry accused Poland of "artificially stoking up tensions in relations with Russia". Under its current, deliberately anti-Russian course, Moscow said, Warsaw is "searching everywhere for signs of 'hybrid attacks' and subversive actions on our part".


"Warsaw must realise we cannot fail to respond to such actions", the Russian foreign ministry stated at the time.



NOTE: The "Polish Operation", conducted by Soviet Union's People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) in 1937-38, was the biggest crime perpetrated by the Stalinist regime on the Polish people.


Under Order no. 00485, issued on August 11, 1937, by the head of the NKVD, Nikolai Yezhov - with prior approval from the Communist Party's Central Committee, led by Joseph Stalin - in the period until the end of 1938, almost 140,000 people of Polish nationality were arrested and subsequently convicted. Out of this number, 111,091 were sentenced to death.

Yet, 80 years on, the awareness of these events remains somewhat limited in the Polish society. Through various initiatives, and taking advantage of this year's round anniversary, IPN is aiming to change that. (PAP)