Interfax: Putin to not attend Auschwitz liberation anniversary events in Poland

Auschwitz Concentration Entrance with Sign Arbeit Macht Frei

(Interfax – January 13, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland on January 27, although the Russian leader attaches great importance to all commemorative events, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told Interfax on Tuesday.

“The president’s schedule does not include such a trip,” he said.

The Russian leader has not received any official invitation to the events in Poland, Peskov said.

“But, if we understand correctly, official invitations are not usually sent out to such events,” the press secretary said.

“There has been no personal invitation for Putin. He will not go, but, beyond any doubt, we have attached and continue to attach great importance to all commemorative events, including those that will take place in Poland, especially in the 70th anniversary year of the victory,” he said.

Peskov also said he has no information that the organizers of the January 27 ceremonies in Poland are the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the International Auschwitz Council, not the Polish government.

The Forbes magazine said earlier, citing Reuters News Agency, that these two organizations were responsible for sending out invitations to foreign delegations.

Putin has received an invitation from organizers of commemorative events in the former Czech concentration camp, Theresienstadt, to be held on the same day with the memorial ceremony in Auschwitz, the Kremlin spokesman said.

“The invitation has arrived, but no decision has been made yet,” he said.

The Theresienstadt concentration camp, formerly a Gestapo prison, was set up in November 1941. Since World War II broke out it had held about 140,000 inmates, among them 15,000 children. About 33,000 of them were killed and 88,000 deported to Auschwitz, or other concentration camps, where they were finally killed. Theresienstadt was liberated by the Soviet Army on May 9 1945.