Have you noticed how the Russians are constantly trying to be “just like the other kids”? Henry Ford built an automobile assembly line – the Russians bought it from him. The Netherlands had its Diary of Anne Frank – The Soviets the diary of a victim of the siege of Leningrad, Tanya Savicheva. The Americans developed the nuclear bomb – the Russians stole it from them. NATO put ballistic missiles in Turkey – Khrushchev put them on Cuba. Samantha Smith visited the Soviet Union at Yuri Andropov’s invitation and created a world media circus – in response the Soviets sent the uninvited but fluent English-speaking Katya Lycheva to the United States. Enron collapsed due to internal improprieties – the Russians labelled the theft of Yukos “the Russian Enron”. George W. Bush destroyed two countries in the name of “fighting terror” – Russia did the same in Chechnya. The West installed peacekeepers in the former Yugoslavia and later recognized Kosovo’s independence – Russian “peacekeepers” invaded a sovereign country and recognized two statelets. The Americans are poking around in Russia’s backyard trying to install missiles in Russia’s traditional sphere of influence – Russia is enthusiastically selling arms to Latin America and establishing a presence on America’s traditional turf.
Now here’s the latest such story, courtesy of the RBK website, which we’ve found is often a useful bellwether of the Kremlin’s thinking.
Russia wants a Holocaust denial law, “just like the other kids”. But itdoesn’t really want that, so it’s had to come up with a surrogate.Let’s see… The Holocaust is treated with great solemnity as a horriblehuman tragedy that happened, as the Russians say, “during the time ofthe Second world war”. What have the Russians got that’s similar? Yes!The Great Patriotic War (1941-1945). Most of ourreaders are probably aware that while the rest of Europe was busyfighting World War II “during the time of the Second world war”, theSoviet Union was engaged in a separate war of its own againstGermano-fascist invaders. And the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) isabsolutely sacred in all of the former Soviet Union. So, it fits thebill perfectly: solemn, horrible human tragedy, right time in history -but uniquely Russian, unlike the Holocaust.
So, Procurator-General of the Russian Federation Yuri Chaika,instead of doing his job and finding the assassins of journalists andlawyers or fighting corruption or prosecuting skinheads who attackforeigners or soldiers who rape and murder Chechens, has come out witha bold new initiative to declare denial of the Soviet people’s”achievements” in the victory in the Great Patriotic War a criminaloffense. But is GPW denial really such a big problem in Russia? Anyonewho’s seen the child honor guards standing in front of eternal flamesin even small Russian cities, or the old men and women walking aroundthe streets with chests bedecked in medals, or the massive fireworksdisplays all over the country on May 9, or the myriad hero-tanks onpedestals in villages, or the massive memorial complexes such asMamayev Kurgan in Volgograd(Stalingrad) or the Piskarevskoye Cemetery in St.Petersburg (Leningrad) or the relatively recently created PoklonnayaHill complex in Moscowwould find it hard to believe that there’s any problem at all.Everybody in Russia seems to regard the Great Patriotic War as thegreatest event in their country’s history, so is there really any needto criminalize something that doesn’t even exist? Wouldn’t it make alot more sense if Russia were to criminalize Gulag denial instead?
A translation from RBK Daily:
Yu.Chaika wants to punish with jail for denying the victory of the USSR in the GPW
Criminal liability may be introduced for denying the achievements ofthe Soviet people in the victory in the Great Patriotic war.
Such a declaration was made to journalists by procurator-general ofthe RF Yuri Chaika. “I consider that denying the victory of the Sovietpeople – this is as a minimum a violation of the norms of ethics andmorals. In specific conditions, criminal liability can be prescribedfor this”, – he said.
In such a manner, Russia may enter into the number of countries inwhich criminal liability is prescribed for attempts to reconsiderhistorical events, associated with the Second world [war]. At thepresent moment, in a series of European countries denial of theholocaust – the mass destruction of Jews in the years of the Secondworld war – is criminally punishable.
In particular, a year ago a loud scandal took place in France whenthey sentenced extreme right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen to threemonths in jail suspended and a fine of 10 thsd. euros for a comment inan interview that the occupation of France “was not all that inhuman”.
In Austria, where punishment in the form of deprivation of libertyfor a term of up to 10 years is prescribed by the law for such a crime,the British historian David Irving ended up in jail in the year 2006.The court sentenced him to 3 years of imprisonment after during thetime of his appearance D.Irving denied the fact of the existence of gaschangers in Auschwitz.
Besides this, in the opinion of the historian, the scales of thedestruction of Jews by the nazists during the time of the Second worldwar were exaggerated. He likewise asserted that Adolf Hitler knewnothing about the holocaust.
We will notice that criminal liability for such violations isintroduced, besides Austria and France, in Belgium, Germany and Spain.
25 February 2009