Don’t dispute any details of the official version of the Great Patriotic War in Russia – or else. The idea had never occurred to me personally, but I have noticed that the quickening tempo of ultra-nationalism in many countries often serves of a warning bell of some unknown, unfortunate events on the horizon.
“I believe the Duma should enact a law that would criminalize the denial of the Soviet victory in World War II,” said Sergei Shoigu, head of the powerful Ministry of Emergency Situations and co-chairman of the supreme council of Putin’s United Russia party, during a speech to veterans in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) in February, according to reports by Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
Shoigu’s call for the new law came after Russian television channel NTV broadcast a documentary about the Battles of Rzhev, a series of offensives launched by Soviet forces against the Germans between January 1942 and March 1943. The documentary raised popular anger, especially among WWII veterans, after it exposed the number of Soviet soldiers killed, which was much higher than most Russians believed — around a million compared to around 500,000 on the Nazi side — and presented a negative interpretation of Soviet tactics by, for example, showing how shocked German soldiers who had fought in the battles were at the way Soviet troops were thrown into the fight with little regard for their lives.