Putin blasts ‘neo-Nazis’ in Ukraine on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday repeated a claim that neo-Nazis were committing crimes in Ukraine – an allegation that Moscow has used to justify its military intervention – as the world marks Holocaust Remembrance Day.

«Forgetting the lessons of history leads to the repetition of terrible tragedies,» Putin said.

«This is demonstrated by the crimes against civilians, ethnic cleansing and punitive actions organized by neo-Nazis in Ukraine. It is against this evil that our soldiers bravely fight,» he said in a statement.

Supporters of Putin’s military operation say Ukraine’s treatment of Russian speakers in the country is comparable to the actions of Nazi Germany.

One of the goals of the operation was the «denazification» of Ukraine, Putin said when he announced nearly a year ago that he had ordered Russian troops to head for Kyiv.

These claims have been disputed by the Ukrainian government and the country’s Jewish community.

The Soviet Union’s victory over Hitler’s army – long a symbol of patriotic pride for Russians – has taken center stage since the start of the military intervention.

«Political Games»

Putin said that «attempts to revise our country’s contributions to the Great Victory (against Hitler) actually amount to justifying the crimes of Nazism and pave the way for the revival of its murderous ideology.»

Friday is the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp built by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland – a date that has become Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Auschwitz museum did not invite Russian representatives to the ceremony marking the day the Soviet Red Army liberated the Nazi camp due to the offensive in Ukraine.

«Russia will need an extremely long time and a very deep soul-searching after this conflict to return to the gatherings of the civilized world,» museum spokesman Piotr Sawicki told AFP. the old field.

Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar told AFP that «for us it is clearly a humiliation because we know and remember perfectly the role of the Red Army in the liberation of Auschwitz and in the victory over the Nazism».

«These political games have no place on Holocaust Day,» Lazar added.

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