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Russophobia in Europe fuels acts of vandalism against Soviet era monuments

March 04, 2015, 19:16 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Sergey Fadeichev, file

MOSCOW, 4 March. /TASS/. Ever more frequent defilements of Soviet-era monuments in East and West European countries are a side effect of the current Russia-West standoff, which triggered an upsurge in Russophobic sentiment.

The Anti-Fascist Anti-Maidan Council has drawn up a list of top ten countries where the desecrations of Soviet era monuments have been most frequent, says the Moscow daily Izvestia. Ukraine is number one on the list. Last year alone 420 memorial sites were defiled or destroyed there. Among the most outrageous incidents the Council mentioned the monument to Red Army soldiers in the city of Chervonograd, which was marred with paint and swastika signs, the defilement of the Menora memorial in Kiev, put up in memory of the Jews slaughtered during the Nazi occupation, and the destruction of the memorial plaque in the Sumy Region honoring World War II pilot Fyodor Dudnik, a holder of the Hero of the Soviet Union title.

Less frequent but no less preposterous incidents have occurred in Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria and Poland. The acts of vandalism in Poland are the most barbaric ones: the heads and hands of sculptures are torn away (the way it happened in Lubasz) and tombstones, obelisks and plaques at cemeteries destroyed.

Some acts of vandalism happen in Western Europe. Late last February the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed indignation over the defilement of the monument to the Soviet Liberator Soldier in Vienna. The monument was marred with black paint.

The rating’s authors say as the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union-led coalition’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II draws near, these incidents tend to happen ever more often. "We believe they are a mockery not only of those who perished, but of the principles of peace, the allied agreements and history," the head of the Anti-Fascist Anti-Maidan Council, Yevgeny Shabayev, said. The council urged all Russians to avoid making tourist trips to these countries and to boycott foodstuffs manufactured in their territory.

"The intensity of Russia-US confrontation is growing. The differences are spreading to various fields, including ideology and historical memory," a leading research fellow at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, Oleg Nemansky, has said. "This confrontation is spreading not only in Ukraine, but also to such countries as Austria."

The Russia-West standoff over the Ukrainian crisis keeps fuelling Russophobia in various European countries. To a certain extent it was present there all the way, the deputy director of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, Tamara Guzenkova, told TASS. "As a rule monuments are defiled by marginal types. To a certain extent this is a form of social protest. But it is the feeling of impunity that makes the vandals so daring in the first place in the countries whose governments’ policies are outspokenly anti-Russian," said Guzenkova, the chief of the RISS’s centre for studies of Russia’s near neighbors.

And the president of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, believes that certain distinctions must be made between Lenin haters and the destruction of World War II monuments."

"The statues of Lenin in both Russian and Ukrainian cities look hopelessly obsolete these days," Remizov told TASS. "It should be remembered, though, that the destruction of monuments to Lenin in Ukraine, a country that owes its very existence in the present shape to that man, is rather weird."

In any case all acts of vandalism have a clear anti-Russian bias, he remarked.

"As far as the Baltic countries and Poland are concerned, Russophobia is very strong there and it surges up at any convenient occasion. This time it is the Ukrainian crisis that is pouring oil on the flames."

 

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