Rus­sian his­tory rewrite de­nies pact with Nazis to di­vide Europe

Waikato Times - - WORLD -

RUS­SIA: The pro­por­tion of Rus­sians who refuse to be­lieve that Stalin signed a se­cret pact with Hitler to carve up eastern Europe has al­most dou­bled in the past decade, a new poll in­di­cates.

The share of re­spon­dents who think the se­cret pro­to­col of the Molo­tov-Ribben­trop pact is ‘‘a fab­ri­ca­tion’’ grew from 9 per cent in 2005 to 17 per cent last month, the in­de­pen­dent Le­vada Cen­tre polling agency found. Forty-four per cent said they had not heard about the se­cret pro­to­col.

The non-ag­gres­sion pact of 1939 has been re­ha­bil­i­tated un­der Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, who has made vic­tory in World War II cen­tral to his ide­ol­ogy of Rus­sian might and glory.

It emerged af­ter the war that the pact con­tained an undis­closed agree­ment to di­vide Ro­ma­nia, Poland, Lithua­nia, Latvia, Es­to­nia and Fin­land into spheres of in­flu­ence. The pro­to­col’s ex­is­tence was only ad­mit­ted by the Krem­lin in 1989, when Mikhail Gor­bachev con­demned it as ‘‘a con­tra­dic­tion of the sovereignty and in­de­pen­dence of a se­ries of third coun­tries’’. He also said that the pact as a whole ‘‘deep­ened the con­se­quences of the treach­er­ous Nazi ag­gres­sion’’.

Putin, how­ever, ar­gues that there was noth­ing wrong with the Krem­lin mak­ing a deal with the Nazis, which lasted un­til Hitler in­vaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. ‘‘The Soviet Union signed a non-ag­gres­sion treaty with Ger­many,’’ he told young his­to­ri­ans in Moscow three years ago. ‘‘Peo­ple say, ’Ach, that’s bad’. But what’s bad about that if the Soviet Union didn’t want to fight, what’s bad about it?’’

An­a­lysts say that un­der Putin, Soviet vic­tory in World War II has be­come a ‘‘foun­da­tion myth’’ for mod­ern Rus­sia, with lit­tle tol­er­ance for any­thing that taints the im­age of hero­ism. - The Times

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