State Duma deputies threatened the OSCE with “harsh” consequences over the weekend after the European security body’s parliamentary arm equated the roles of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in starting World War II.
Russia’s delegates stormed out of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s annual parliamentary meeting after members passed the resolution, drafted by a delegate from the host nation Lithuania.
“This is nothing but an attempt to rewrite the history of World War II,” said Konstantin Kosachyov, who heads the Duma’s International Affairs Committee, Interfax reported. “The reaction of the parliament to this document will be immediate and it will be harsh.”
The resolution called for a day of remembrance for victims of both Stalinism and Nazism to be marked every Aug. 23, the date in 1939 when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact dividing Eastern Europe between their spheres of influence.
Of the 213 delegates present, eight voted against the resolution and four abstained.
An OSCE spokesman noted that unlike its parliamentary branch, the Vienna-based OSCE itself does not pass resolutions and takes decisions by consensus, giving each of its 56 member countries veto power.
Such parliamentary resolutions have little to no effect on OSCE policy, though Friday’s was enough to draw Moscow’s ire.
“Those who place Nazism and Stalinism on the same level forget that it is the Stalin-era Soviet Union that made the biggest sacrifices and the biggest contribution to liberating Europe from fascism,” Kozlovsky told Kommersant.
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, told Ekho Moskvy radio that the document was “disgusting” and “shameful.”
Lithuanian lawmaker Vilija Aleknaite Abramikiene backed the resolution. “We did not seek to insult anyone. We were driven by an obligation not to forget our history and a sense of justice for those who perished during the second world war and after, including the Russian people,” she said.
Russia has accused many Western countries of trying to rewrite history and understating the sacrifices made by the Soviet Union in defeating Nazi Germany. President Dmitry Medvedev in May created a commission to fight what he said were growing efforts to hurt Russia by falsifying history.
At the same time Russia is not shy about raising alternative viewpoints about World War II. A research paper blaming Poland for starting the war appeared last month on Russia’s Defense Ministry’s web site, triggering a sharp diplomatic response from Poland. The paper was soon removed from the site.
Russian histories of World War II still give little attention to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which carved up Poland and the three Baltic states at the outbreak of war. The Soviet Union joined the allied side in 1941 after it was attacked by Germany.
Kosachyov, a Duma deputy from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, offered his own history lesson to the Baltic states that supported the resolution. “A large portion of their populations fought alongside the SS with weapons in hand,” he said, Interfax reported. (Reuters, AP)