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Polish Magazine Faces Extremism Charges

Moscow prosecutors may slap extremism charges against a Polish literary magazine in a case that threatens to strain Polish-Russian relations just a month before Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with his Polish counterpart for a historic meeting.

The Novaya Polsha magazine, which is published in the Russian language in Poland and distributed in Russia, has been accused of carrying extremist materials by Stanislav Kunyayev, the nationalist-minded editor-in-chief of Nash Sovremennik, a Russian literary magazine.

“I think they are doing everything possible to distort the history of our relationship,” Kunyayev told The Moscow Times on Tuesday.

He declined to elaborate about the precise nature of his complaint with the Moscow prosecutor's office, citing the inquiry.

Kunyayev said, however, that the complaint was part of a long-time campaign that he has undertaken against the publication of articles that distorted the state of Polish-Russian ties. Last year, Nash Sovremennik accused Novaya Polsha of promoting anti-Russian sentiments and called for readers to initiate a public campaign against it.

Yelena Parzhkova, head of the MIK publishing house, which distributes Novaya Polsha in Russia, said Moscow police officials had asked her to provide a copy of her company's contract with the magazine and a list of its Russian-based subscribers on Feb. 17.

She said the police were acting under orders from the prosecutor’s office, but no criminal case had been opened against the magazine as far as she knew. She accused Kunyayev of seeking publicity.

“I think Kunyayev is trying to pull off a publicity stunt,” she said.

The press service for the Moscow prosecutor's office declined an immediate comment on the case, and several calls to the Moscow police's department on extremist crime went unanswered Tuesday afternoon.

Novaya Polsha, founded in 1999, has a circulation of 3,900 in Russia and publishes articles written by Russian and Polish literature critics, social science researchers and historians, some of whom present conflicting views on Polish-Russian relations.

The magazine says on its web site that its target readership are “all Russians and Poles who are … willing to argue and defend their opinions while listening to and respecting the arguments of the opposite side.”

Novaya Polsha editor-in-chief Jerzy Pomyanovsky described the extremist complaint against the magazine as “the wildest nonsense” in an interview with Warsaw's Gazeta Wyborcza on Monday.

If prosecutors determine that the magazine promotes extremism, they can ask a court to include it on a list of materials banned in Russia.

Kunyayev, like many Russian historical revisionists, disagrees with Poland's account of the Katyn massacre, when 15,000 Polish army officers were killed in a forest near the village of Katyn in the Smolensk region in 1940.

Although numerous historical documents have been unearthed that support Warsaw's view that the killings were carried out by Soviet soldiers, many Russian commentators insist that the Poles perished at the hands of the Nazis.

Putin is expected to meet Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk for a historic visit to Katyn on April 7.

Pomyanovsky called the extremist complaint against his magazine “an attempt to torpedo” the meeting of the two leaders.

Relations between Poland and Russia have been improving after months of tensions over a number of issues, including Katyn. Warsaw protested last year when an analytical document surfaced on the Russian Defense Ministry's web site that suggested that Poland was responsible for starting World War II. A long-running trade dispute between the two countries helped delay a new partnership agreement between Russia and the European Union for months.

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