The Chairman of the Commission for Information Policy in the Federation Council of Russia, Alexei Pushkov, answered questions from the Sputnik news agency on this topic.
Sputnik / Wladimir Astapkowitsch
Russian Senator Alexei Pushkov (archive picture)
– Mr. Pushkow, who is currently dealing with the rewriting of history? In the West, in Europe, it is said that Russia began to rewrite history. In Moscow they say we only react to what is being done in the West.
– Of course, the attention that is currently being paid in Russia to history, especially the Second World War and the pre-war period, is associated with attempts to question Russia’s status as victorious in World War II in the countries of the Western Alliance.
This starts primarily from Poland and the Baltic countries. They are concerned with the fact that if it is recognized that Russia bears the same responsibility for World War II as Nazi Germany, then it would no longer have a moral right to be victorious. So this is an attack not only against the image of Russia and not only against its history – and not only against the historical assessments that have so far been appropriate. This is an attack against the entire post-war world order, because Russia is a victorious power in World War II, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and enjoys the right of veto there – in addition to Great Britain, the United States, France and China. These are the five victorious powers in World War II.
Since this fact is impossible to dispute directly (because our flag was raised above the Reichstag in May 1945), the events in the pre-war period are hung on the big bell. And one tries to present the situation as if the Second World War would not have started without the well-known agreement between the Soviet Union and Germany.
– So that’s not a history argument?
– In my opinion, this is a political argument. It is directly connected to the world order that arose after the Second World War. And that is precisely why so much emphasis is placed on this argument. It is not only historians who take part in this. Historians in the West (in Poland, Europe, and the United States) had previously expressed the opinion that the Hitler-Stalin Pact had initiated the Second World War. But so far, politicians and heads of state have stayed away from this debate. But now, for example, Polish President Andrzej Duda (and not just him) is doing such propaganda. Ukrainian President Vladimir Selensky also joined him. So this is an attack against today’s position of Russia via history. You have to look for the roots of this whole campaign. And we will answer it – and we will continue to do so.
The pre-war period was much more complicated and not as clear as the opponents of our country represent. And the responsibility of Poland and other European countries for unleashing this war is very great.
– Have you noticed that it is not the countries participating in the Yalta conference that speak of it, not the victorious powers, but other countries?
– Unfortunately, they also interfere in these polemics. French President Emmanuel Macron said recently that he saw Russia trying to blame the Polish people for World War II …
– Yes, Macron said that in Krakow when he performed at Jagiellonian University …
– But it is wrong to say that Russia is trying to share the responsibility of the Polish people. We don’t blame the Polish people for it at all.
We hold the political elite of Poland responsible – the political elite that was in power in the country in the 1930s and was the first to conclude a non-aggression treaty with Germany in 1934, which offered itself to Germany as an ally that shared with Hitler involved in the division of Czechoslovakia and benefited from the Munich plot when Czechoslovakia was surrendered to Hitler. We actually criticize this Polish elite.
REUTERS / Agencja Gazeta / Adrianna Bochenek
Andrzej Duda with his wife Agata at the commemoration day for Holocaust victims in the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (archive picture)
President Putin spoke of this when he recalled the moral and political image of some Polish politicians of the time who wanted to erect a memorial to Hitler in Warsaw – for the “final solution to the Jewish question in Poland”. These are all historical facts about which the Poles have nothing to say. And that’s why they keep talking about the Hitler-Stalin Pact. Incidentally, Macron did not say that Russia was responsible for the outbreak of World War II. He indicated that he disagreed with the allegations against Poland, it was partly responsible. But I think it is partly responsible.
Poland tried to coordinate with Germany, rejected any efforts to establish a collective security system, and preserved part of the territory of Czechoslovakia when it was divided. There were also politicians in Poland who thought of joint war actions with Germany against the Soviet Union. So the top politicians of responsible states should refrain from participating in this polemic. Especially the top politicians of the states that participated in the anti-Hitler coalition. Because by destroying the norms that have become established in world politics after the Second World War and are based on the common victory against Hitler-Germany, they also make their own positions shaky. Because in the end that could lead to a re-evaluation of the entire post-war system.
– Then the rewriting of history would lead to the change of absolutely all post-war approaches, all provisions and all status …
– I agree. And that is precisely why I believe that the top politicians of these countries should rather remain faithful to the version that is anchored in the documents of the Potsdam Conference and in the UN Charter. Both the Potsdam Conference and the UN assumed that there were five victorious powers that enjoyed a special position in the post-war world. And that is the basis of the entire modern international legal system.
I think it would be better for the top politicians of the responsible states not to destroy this system and not to imitate Warsaw, Tallinn and Riga and to support this system. There is no other system. It is precisely on these results of the Second World War that the UN is based – the only organization that unites all countries in the world and the only organization that, although more formal, nevertheless promotes the stability and maintenance of peace.
* The views expressed in this article do not have to correspond to those of the Sputnik editorial team.