70th Anniversary Of The Victory
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8th of May 1945 is an important date of the modern history. It was the day when the capitulation of Germany to the countries of anti-Hitler coalition, which included the leading powers: The USA, Great Britain, France, Russia, was signed The year 2015 is remarkable to the post-soviet society, because ex-USSR states are preparing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Victory.

Despite the existing (and sometimes opposing) points of view and approaches to this event, the following fact remains certain: nationalism and its extremes is the scourge which threatens the whole world, and can be fought against only jointly. The Second World War is a proof to this, having cost more than 70 000 000 of lives of soldiers and civilians, apart from economic damage.

By simply looking at the statistics, one can notice that the USA’s casualties was about 410 000 people, Great Britain’s – 400 000, France’s – 650 000, USSR’s – 27 000 000. That’s why it is not surprising that in Russia, as in USSR’s successor, and in the other ex-USSR states special attention is paid to the celebration of the Victory and to the fight against fascism’s revival. Heavy causalities have left much bigger imprint in the soviet people descendants’ minds.

Naturally, Russian press doesn’t avoid this theme. By reviewing media, one can see a lot of messages from Russian journalists and authorities about the rise of nationalism, primarily in Ukraine, which came as a result of the conflict of interests between the USA and the states of the EU, on one side, and Russia on the other.

In 2014 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia tried to focus the attention of the global community on this tendency and published “The White Book” in two languages (Russian and English). It contains numerous facts of breaking the modern democratic world’s basic principles: the presentation of the book «Yak kozaki Kavkaz voyavali. Shodennik sotnika Ustima» (“How the Cossacks conquered Caucasus. The diary of the centurion Ustim”), during which the author encouraged to kill Russians, the facts of mutilation on Hungary’s national flag, participation of Ukrainian neo-Nazis in the conflict in the South-East of Ukraine, etc.

This, of course, can be Russian propaganda, but the results of the international human rights organization “World without Nazism”s survey, which are reflected in the “White Book of Nazism”, only confirm the above-mentioned facts. It is remarkable, though, that it involves not only Ukraine, which is actual for the modern media, but also the leading countries of Europe (Germany, Great Britain). The attention is drawn to the honoring of the legionnaires of “Waffen SS” in Latvia and Estonia, to the SS veterans’ march on the 16th of March in Riga, young nationalists’ marches in Bulgaria. According to the “World without Nazism”s data, the highest radical nationalism's rating in European countries remains in Greece and Latvia.

The latter is currently holding Presidency in the EU and is given a priority task this year – the further promotion of the Western democratic values to the East under the “Eastern Partnership” program. Bruxelles places great expectations on Latvia. F. Mogerini encouraged Riga’s initiatives and noted that Latvia is able to give the program its “second wind”. According to her, «local knowledge and Riga’s experience in cooperation with such countries as Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldavia will be key to the successful development of the relationships with EU”.

The situation in Latvia, however, is somehow alarming. According to data from 2012, about 300 000 non-citizens lived in the country – 13,5% of the whole population, which is a nonsence for Europe. Riga’s unwillingness to grant them citizenship, leaving 1/8 th part of the population without political rights is accompanied by ignoring numerous recommendations and international organizations’ instructions (UN, PACE, OSCE) on elimination of discrimination against Russian speaking population.

Latvian nationalists participate in the mass actions allowed by the authorities. On 16th of March 2012 about 2000 persons gathered in the center of Riga, including “The National Reunion” deputes of the Seimas. The speakers allowed themselves anti-Russian appeals, desecrated the wreath of anti-fascists laid in the memory of Nazism’s victims. On the 1st of July 2012, the leader of the “Center of Gustav Celminsch” I. Shiskins and known anti-Semites U. Freimis also organized a rally and march to honor the occupation of Riga by German troops in 1941 in the center of Riga. On the 4th of July, they organized a picket near the commemorative place of burning of the Riga synagogue with 500 Jews inside of it by Nazis in July 1941, with slogans “Latvia – to Latvians!” and “Down with the government of Sionist lackeys!”

It all happens against the backdrop of the refusal of Latvian government to join the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, permission to lodge individual complaints for breaches of the International convention on Elimination of Racial Descrimination, observance of some provisions of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (p2. sec. 10 and p.3 sec. 11).

The criticism of the EU on these reservations doesn’t affect Latvian government. OSCE doesn’t use systemic approach to this issue. The plan to fight with nationalism, like the existing plans in the field of gender inequality, fight against human trafficking and plan to improve the situation of the Gypsy, isn’t still developed.

High Commissioner of the OSCE on National Minorities A.Tors visited Latvia so “quietly” this year, that it wasn’t noticed neither by OSCE itself, nor by official Latvian authorities. She didn’t visited Lithuania and Estonia, where nationalism develops too and violations of the national minorities’ rights occur, at all. There are known facts of the death threats to Polish minorities in Lithuania and other nationalistic manifestations in the modern Baltic countries.

It will be difficult for Lithuania to play the role of the EU’s outpost and implicate the “Eastern Partnership” program on the post-soviet territory in these circumstances. It will doubtless meet that inner rejection of the nationalism by the post-soviet society, and its authorities’ inactivity and insufficient activity of international organizations in fighting with radicalism will create additional difficulties.

The use of the program and the expected summit in Riga as tools in confrontation with Russia will only aggravate the situation, excluding all the benefits of the multiple-vector foreign policy and creating new hotbeds of tension (which was happening in Georgia in 2008 and is happening now in Ukraine). This position of Lithuania on the upcoming summit is highly likely.

Thus, in order to avoid new World Wars, it is required to move away from the positions of confrontation and take wide range of measures aiming to fight against nationalism’s revival.

Street Talk

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