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Russia’s position on role of Red Army in 1944-45 unchanged — ambassador

September 28, 2015, 13:21 UTC+3 WARSAW
The Russian official commented on dismantlement of the monument to Soviet General Ivan Chernyakhovsky in Poland
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© Fotokhronika TASS/Evgeniy Khaldey

WARSAW, September 28. /TASS/. Russia’s position on the role of the Red Army in 1944-45 remains unchanged, Ambassador to Poland Sergey Andreyev said on Monday.

"Speaking about our position on arguing the liberation role of the Red Army in 1944-45, on the issue of Soviet monuments, memorial places and burials in Poland - our position remains unchanged, including on the monument to General Chernyakhovsky," the ambassador said.

Soviet General Ivan Chernyakhovsky was wounded fatally on February 18, 1945 in the outskirts of the East Prussian town of Mehlsack (now Pieniezno). He was buried in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and reburied in Moscow in 1992. The monument in Pieniezno was unveiled in the early 1970s and taken down by Poland’s authorities on September 17, 2015.

"We have different views on our common history," the Russian diplomat said. "It is important to realise it, not to offend if the parties are expressing different views, but it is necessary to respect views of the other party."

Earlier on Monday, the ambassador was summoned to Poland’s foreign ministry.

The scandal broke out as Ambassador Andreyev told Polish TWN24 channel on Friday night the Russian-Polish relations were currently standing at the lowest level since 1945. He blamed Poland for this, saying the Polish government had frozen all the political, cultural and humanitarian contacts.

As he mentioned the causes of World War II, Andreyev recalled that Poland had blocked many a time the setting up of an anti-Hitler coalition during the 1930’s. "That’s why Poland is partly responsible for the disaster, which broke out in September 1939."

Polish officials rushed to accuse him of a misunderstanding of history.

"These hurting words flow out of misunderstanding of history and particularly of the degree, to which they are unfair and untruthful," Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said.

"We find the assessments provided by the Russian ambassador to be harmful, as they undermine the results of activity of a joint institute called the Polish-Russian Group for Complicated Problems," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Cezary Tomczyk, the press secretary of the Polish cabinet of ministers told TWN24 channel on Sunday the Polish government did not rule out a possibility of Ambassador Andreyev’s expulsion.

It is time for Poland to decide on whether it wants to remember the past while moving forward or to make the future contingent on time-serving interpretations of history, Maria Zakharova, the official spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday as she commented on the declarations by Polish officials on a possible expulsion of the Russian Ambassador, Sergei Andreyev.

"When we heard a yet another insulting accusation or historical insinuation from Warsaw targeted at Russia, our Foreign Ministry offered explanations for Moscow's position each time and recommended to leave history for the historians," she said. "Just take the claim about the liberation of Auschwitz/Birkenau by the Ukrainians."

"And then all sorts of things the Polish officials churned out in connection with the jubilee of VE-Day," Zakharova continued.

"That's just a vicious circle," she said. "And recall that for many years we have a successfully working commission for the solution of complicated historical problems. It did really unique work, as it managed to publish collections of documents and to tap solutions to knottiest dilemmas."

"It’s time for Poland to decide now on if it wants to remember the past while moving forward or to make the future contingent on transitory interpretations of history," Zakharova said.

"It’s important to remember history, our common history but we must remember it for averting errors in the future, for being wiser, for treasuring peace and good-neighbourliness," Zakharova said. "We must bring up the young generations of people on the samples of history that don’t fan reciprocal hatred but, rather, disseminate mutual respect.

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