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Russia warns of soaring neo-Nazi threat in Europe

Russia has once again pointed to the risk of sprawling neo-Nazism in Europe, in the first place, in the Baltic countries and Ukraine. The more active the authorities in the European countries are in their attempts to rewrite history, the higher the level of xenophobia, experts warn.

"Regrettably, the vaccine against the virus of Nazism produced at the Nuremberg tribunal is losing its original strength in some European countries," Russian President Vladimir Putin has told the Serbian daily Politika in an interview.

He believes this can well be seen in the "outright manifestations of neo-Nazism, which have become commonplace in Latvia and other Baltic countries." The Russian leader is particularly worried over the situation in Ukraine "where last February saw an unconstitutional government coup, with nationalists and other radical groups being its main driving force."

"The European Union is witnessing an unprecedented growth of neo-Nazi sentiment. Racist and xenophobic slogans are quite common during election campaigns in a number of European countries," the Russian Foreign Ministry's human rights commissioner, Konstantin Dolgov, told the 7th Baltic Democratic Forum on October 10.

Annual marches by members of SS veterans in Riga or gatherings of the 20th division of Waffen-SS in Estonia cannot but draw an angry response from Russia, Dolgov said.

Latvia lately saw a row over a controversial stage production - a musical show glorifying Nazi war criminal Herberts Cukurs. During World War II he was a member of the Araijs Koomando, a death squad notorious for massacres of Latvia's Jews during World War II.

"This stage show is yet another move by the forces which are determined to make neo-Nazism as Latvia's official policy," a co-chairman of the Latvian Anti-Fascist Committee, Eduard Goncharov, has told the Delfi portal. "What such actions lead to we have been able to see in Ukraine, where the government's connivance with the neo-Nazis and its systematic efforts to present Stepan Bandera and his follows as national heroes sparked the tragedies in Odessa, Lugansk and Donbass."

In the meantime, Ukraine is hurrying to rewrite history. On Tuesday, Pyor Poroshenko moved the Defender of Ukraine Day from February 23 - the day when the Red Army was established - to October 14 the date of the emergence of the collaborationist Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which in 1943-1944 operated against Soviet guerillas and underground resistance in Poland.

On Tuesday, a large group of Ukraine's Right Sector activists and militants from the Azov battalion marched through the center of Kiev chanting quotes from Adolf Hitler and other Nazi criminals. They demanded declaring UIA veterans as fighters for the freedom of Ukraine.

By the beginning of this autumn the international human rights movement World without Nazism published its second review based on a survey of manifestations of xenophobia and radical nationalism in 19 European countries - The White Book of Nazism 2014. According to 2012-2013 data the highest level of radical nationalism was identified in Latvia and Greece (65 points) in 2013. Ukraine followed with 62.5 points. Other countries with strong nationalist sentiment are Estonia, Moldova, Lithuania and Britain.

The movement's first deputy president, Valery Engel, said that some European states were in a hurry to revise the results of World War II and whitewash pro-Nazi collaborationists (alongside the Baltic countries and Ukraine two other countries - Romania and Hungary are very active in this respect.) "It is noteworthy the more active this or that country is in attempts to rewrite history, the higher the level of xenophobia. These are inter-related matters," he said.

In many East European countries, including the post-Soviet ones, there has never been "effective vaccination" against Nazism. There was no anti-Nazi lustration. These days certain forces are using the exoneration of Nazi ideas for their political purposes first and foremost," the president of the Russian Jewish Congress, Yuri Kanner, has told TASS.

A special law envisaging criminal punishment for the exoneration of Nazism has been effective in Russia since May 2014. Approval of Nazi crimes or flagrant lies about the role of the USSR during World War II is punishable with a prison term of up to five years.

[Source: By Lyudmila Alexandrova, Itar Tass, Moscow, 15Oct14]

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