Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Cold War Is Not Over

As the implications of Alexander Litvinenko’s poisoning - and now the poisoning of his associate, Mario Scaramella - become increasingly clear, revealing Moscow’s aim of intimidating its critics and silencing those who would support them, additional signs of the Kremlin’s real policies with regard to its neighbours, and the rest of the world, are also becoming more obvious.

Responding to Estonia’s banning of the public display of Nazi and Soviet emblems, and of emblems that derive from them, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov gives the lie to assumptions that today’s Russia has in any sense apologized for the crimes of its Soviet past. Indeed, in his remarks, Lavrov appears fully to endorse not only the Soviet occupation of Estonia, but also the Soviet state itself, together with its negation of democracy, human liberty and the rule of law.

As the RIAN report points out,

The use of Soviet and Nazi symbols will be punished with fines or imprisonment of up to three years, depending on the circumstances.

Lavrov’s response:

“I consider the Estonian government’s latest decision morally disgraceful, and it can engender fabricated political problems now that real problems, including those of the Russian-speaking population, should be resolved there,” Sergei Lavrov said.

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Meanwhile, Der Spiegel carries a disturbing report on the funeral of the ex-Stasi chief Markus Wolf, a one-time colleague of Vladimir Putin, who was in charge of the brutal repression of dissent within communist East Germany.

Speaking at the funeral, the Russian ambassador, Vladimir Kotenev, praised Wolf in glowing terms as “one Germany’s best sons”, and as “one of Russia’s best friends in Germany”.

CDU foreign affairs spokesman Willy Wimmer characterized Kotenev’s remarks as “an unbelievable event”, and wrote a letter of protest to Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. In Wimmer’s view, Kotenev has revealed Russia’s true attitude towards democratic Germany.

(via ML)
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