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Austria pays tribute to Nazi collaborators

Nationalist sentiment is on the rise throughout EU member states, Pyotr Iskenderov, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Slavic Studies, told Izvestia, commenting on a rally honoring Croatian Nazi collaborators held in Austria over the weekend.

"This is, above all, a response to the hasty, politicized expansion of the pan-European space, which is seen by many peoples and countries as a threat to national identity and sovereignty," Iskenderov stated.

About 15,000 people gathered in Austria's Bleiburg on Saturday for a rally in memory of Nazi collaborators executed by Yugoslav partisans at the end of World War II. An official delegation of Croatian politicians led by two ministers took part in the event.

The Nazi-backed Independent State of Croatia led by the Ustase fascist movement was established during World War II. This far-right, ultranationalist political party founded in 1929 openly supported the Third Reich. In 1941, the party established the Jasenovac concentration camp where tens of thousands of ethnic Serbs, Jews and Gypsies were killed. At the end of the war, those Nazi collaborators tried to escape fearing reprisals from Yugoslav guerillas. The so-called

"Bleiburg massacre," where partisans executed several thousand of Hitler's accomplices, took place near the Austrian city of Bleiburg. In 1995, the Croatian parliament established Memorial Day for the Bleiburg victims, which is observed on May 15.

Repeated demands by Austrian rights groups to ban the event, which promotes Nazism and literally elevates former war criminals to the rank of heroes, have been futile.

Senator Hans-Jorg Jenewein from the Austrian Freedom Party told Izvestia that, in his view, such events should be banned throughout the world.

"The era of Nazism is over and we should be grateful for that. I am confident that such events should be outlawed in today's society. Besides, glorifying the Nazi period is prohibited in Austria," the politician noted.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 15May17]

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