Polish president wanted to ban Putin

Sept. 9, 2009 at 5:11 PM
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WARSAW, Poland, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The Polish president reportedly asked the prime minister to ban Russian leader Vladimir Putin from a ceremony last week commemorating the start of World War II.

The newspaper Polska cited a source close to Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who said President Lech Kaczynski made his demand less than 24 hours before Putin's scheduled arrival, Poland Radio reported. Kaczynski, the source said, was angry about anti-Polish statements in Russian news media, especially the charge on an intelligence Web site that Josef Beck, the foreign minister just before the war, was a "German spy and a drunkard."

World War II is a controversial area between the two countries. When Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, the Soviet Union had signed a treaty with the Nazi government and the two countries split Poland between them. Five years later, when the Polish Home Army rose up in Warsaw, expecting speedy relief, the Soviet Army halted its advance until the Poles surrendered 63 days later.

Putin, now the Russian prime minister, attended the ceremony in Gdansk. In his speech, he reminded listeners of the millions of Russians who were killed fighting Nazi Germany, while describing the Hitler-Stalin pact as "morally unacceptable."

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