Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

European Court to Consider Suit against Estonian Government In Connection With Profanation of Soviet Soldiers’ Graves

Sign placed on the site of vandalised Brone Soldier memorial in 2008. The desecration of the soldiers’ graves by the Estonians was barbaric and beyond the pale. For shame!


A Latvian lawyer, Mikhail Yoffe, turned to the European Court for Human Rights with complaints from the relatives of three Red Army officers who were killed during the liberation of Tallinn from Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Yoffe said he was entrusted by the soldiers’ relatives to defend the honour and dignity of their heroically-fallen loved ones because the official website of the Estonian government referred to them as criminals, aggressors, and occupiers. Quite recently, he won a case in the European Court against Latvia, which accused former Red Army partisan Vasily Kononov of war crimes. Latvia will now have to pay 30,000 euros (1.091 million roubles. 46,382 USD. 23,715 UK pounds) in compensation. At the same time they accuse anti-Hitler coalition soldiers of war crimes, Latvia and Estonia glorify former Nazi collaborators and attempt to re-write the history of the Second World War. Sergei Markov, a member of the Law Committee in the RF Gosduma, he said, “The reason for such policies is clear. The Latvian and Estonian governments are keen on preserving the current ethno-exclusivist non-democratic régime that keeps them in power. If Russians get the right to vote in Latvia and Estonia, the nationalist clique will lose their jobs. Their ideology is Russophobic by nature, they’re attempting to glamorise those who killed Russians. That is the basis of our law suit”. Meanwhile, Yoffe is planning to appeal against the Estonian government’s decision to relocate the graves of Red Army soldiers and the Red Army Soldier Memorial (the “Bronze Soldier”) from Tynismyagi Hill in downtown Tallinn. Moving the graves without permission from the relatives of the fallen is a violation of the Geneva Convention on war graves. Yoffe said that the decision to relocate the graves should be pronounced an act of vandalism and that the memorial should be restored in its former place, a move the Estonian government is firmly against.

4 August 2008

Vyacheslav Solovyov

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

Firstly, before commenting, there are loud sorts accusing me of “over-simplification” in these notes. Obviously, in such a short format, one can’t weave in such things as the Drang nach Osten, the Teutonic Order, the particular nature of the medieval Novgorod polity, the waxing and waning of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the rise and fall of the Swedish empire in the Baltic littoral, or the “Baltic barons”. That’s a dodge. Latvia and Estonia have had independent existences only twice in history, between 1920 and 1940, and after 1991. Anything else is revisionism and a distortion of history. If Russia were to deprive a people of the franchise as systematically as do these two Baltic statelets do, there would be a hue and cry from the White House, CNN, and Black Rock. However, there’s silence when basic rights are taken from people of Russian nationality. Dead silence. Reflect on the fact that the Estonians and Latvians were amongst the most enthusiastic volunteers in the SS (right up there with the Bosnians, Albanians, and Galicians) and that the Bush administration has, in effect, given them a blank cheque payable upon demand. If it’s wrong for Russia to deprive a nationality of citizenship rights, then, it stands to reason that it’s wrong when Latvia and Estonia do likewise. None dare call it a rebirth of Nazi racial theories (the Balts were considered “Aryans” by the Nazis, after all)…



Belgrade: UN Secretary General Exceeded His Powers in His Reconfiguration of the International Presence in Kosovo

Serbian President Boris Tadić (1958- )

Belgrade believes that the UN Secretary General exceeded his powers in his reconfiguration of the international presence in Kosovo. Commenting on the moves of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Serbian president Boris Tadić said that he exceeded his powers by unilaterally taking a decision on the reconfiguration of the international presence in Kosovo.

The discussion deals with such important issues as the future of this traditionally-Serbian province, where Albanian separatists proclaimed a UDI, and the prerogatives of the UN Secretary General. According to established standards, the format of any UN missions on any territory is defined by the UN Security Council, and no one has the right to change it without that body’s consent. In the case of Kosovo, this rule was violated.

On 12 June, Mr Ban laid down his suggestions on the reconfiguration of the international presence in this Serbian province in his messages to the president of Serbia and that of Kosovo. The gist of his suggestions was that some of the powers of the UN control mission in Kosovo should be transferred to the Albanian authorities in Priština and to a mission of the European Union. The EU mission is being deployed in the province without the approval of the international community. At the end of July, the UN Security Council was informed about those plans in a regular report of the UN Secretary General. During discussions held after the report, serious criticism was hurled at those designs.

As Russia’s permanent envoy in the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, said on the issue, “This is a clear case of abuse of power by the Secretary General, since what is meant is compliance with a fundamental decision of the UN Security Council, Resolution 1244. Comparing the text of the resolution with that of the UN Secretary General’s report, one can clearly see that his wording in a number of cases differs markedly from provisions of Resolution 1244”.

It is good to remember here that Resolution 1244 recognises the territorial integrity of Serbia. The present attempts to change the present format of international presence in Kosovo have the aim of providing conditions for the final secession of the province from Serbia. This is not an exaggeration. Granting powers to Priština and a transfer of part of UN functions in Kosovo to the EU mission, whose leading members have already recognised Kosovo’s “independence”, is unambiguous proof of this.

Certainly, neither Serbia, whose interests are directly affected by changes in the format of the international presence, nor states loyal to international law can be satisfied with the recent developments.

4 August 2008

Yevgeny Kryshkin

Voice of Russia World Service


The Renowned Russian Writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Passed Away in Moscow

In Moscow, in the early hours of Monday morning, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the renowned Russian writer and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature passed away four months shy of his 90th birthday. He obtained a wide reputation for his literary works, which often touched on the most sensitive political themes.

However, his complex adult life began at the front in World War II, where he commanded an artillery battery. He was arrested in 1945 and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment in hard-labour camps for his criticism of the Stalinist régime. After his release and his recovery from cancer, he started to write, based on his camp experiences and his reflections upon them. True, only a few of his short stories gained publication in the Soviet years. At that time, his works were only printed abroad or as samizdat (“self-published”) in the Soviet Union.

In the 1960s, he started work on his most famous book, The Gulag Archipelago, a veritable encyclopaedia of life in the Soviet hard-labour camps. In 1970, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and four years later, in 1974, he was exiled from the USSR due to the publication of The Gulag Archipelago in the West. Then, 20 long years of exile in the West passed. This was followed by a triumphal return to a new Russia and a continuation of his life’s work up to very last day of his life.

In his words, “I hope that the historical records that I present to readers shall present a picture of our life at that time, and that the character of the lives shattered in those harsh and shadowy years shall enter into the consciousness and memory of my fellow Russians. Such a bitter experience shall be a warning to us and prevent us from falling into the abyss again”.

Natalia Solzhenitsyna, the wife of the author, recalled the last years and days of her husband. “Aleksandr Isaevich never expected that his life would be so long. God gave him many years. Long ago, he expected to die at any time. His mother died at 49 and his father at 26. Therefore, he was surprised to see each day come. With respect to age, he saw that as a trifle, and he worked every day of his life. As for death, my husband did not fear it; he treated it as a natural and light thing”.

However, even now, we can say with confidence that Solzhenitsyn is not a simple “great writer”, and his death is not the simple death of a “great person”. His death is the end of an era, the memory of which is concentrated for us in an encyclopaedic and powerful form in his books. Both Russia and the world offer their tribute to the memory of this great writer, one of the greatest men who ever lived in Russia.

4 August 2008

Vyacheslav Solovyov

Voice of Russia World Service


Russia and the World Bid Farewell to the Great Russian Writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Today, Russians are giving their last farewell to Nobel Prize-winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who died from heart failure on Sunday at the age of 89. The public shall be able to come to pay their respects at the mourning hall at the new building of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. The hall shall be open all day.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a prominent human rights activist, whose literary works, perhaps, most of all, The Gulag Archipelago, made an immense contribution to the destruction of totalitarianism. The heart that ached for so many decades for Russia finally stopped beating due to a heart attack in his 90th year. Immediately, the sad news flashed all over the world. That very morning, President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin both expressed their condolences to the Solzhenitsyn family. Mr Medvedev said, “The death of this great man, one of the greatest thinkers, writers, and humanists of the 20th century, is an irreplaceable loss to Russia and the entire world”. Mr Putin added that “the passing of Solzhenitsyn is a heavy loss for all of Russia as he was a literary giant and public activist who gave his life to serving his Motherland and his people”.

The death of Solzhenitsyn resonated throughout the world. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, US President George W. Bush, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued statements praising the writer. The leaders of the Ukraine, Armenia, Lithuania, Estonia, and other countries as well, also expressed their condolences. Not only politicians, but, also outstanding public figures, scientists, intellectuals, and creative artists mourned the death of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Yuri Lyubimov, the artistic director of the legendary Taganka Theatre, said, “We’ve become orphans. Unlike him, we lack his moral vision, we are not as diligent, nor do we have the same moral integrity in fulfilling our missions in life. For me, Solzhenitsyn was an example of courage (Mr Lyubimov uses the word podvig, which carries a stronger meaning than its English “equivalent”: editor’s note) and perseverance to emulate”. Film-maker Gleb Panfilov said, “It is an example for all of us to remember how held loved the truth, his courage in expressing his point of view, and we should live with his sense of internal dignity”.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn continued working right up until his death. Together with his wife Natalia, he was editing a 30-volume anthology of his work. Despite a serious illness, he was happy, because he could live up to his principles, which stated, “Stay alive until you have said everything you need to say”. Solzhenitsyn wished to die at home rather than in hospital, in the summertime rather than in winter, and to be taken care of by his wife and children. His wish came true in every tiny detail. He died at his dacha in the town of Troitse-Lykovo to the west of Moscow. In 2003, he asked permission from Patriarch Aleksei to be buried at Moscow’s Donskoi Monastery. His Holiness readily agreed and blessed his request. Solzhenitsyn will be buried there after the funeral on Wednesday, 6 August.

5 August 2008

Vyacheslav Solovyov

Voice of Russia World Service


Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.