Lithuania’s tough new legislation has provoked Russian communists to demonstrate at the Lithuanian embassy in Moscow. The provocation? It is s now a criminal offence to display Soviet or Nazi symbols in public.
It was bound to infuriate those of Soviet ilk. According to them, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia requested to join the USSR. After the Soviet re-invasion of 1944 they were not occupied, but rather liberated by the Red Army.
Furthermore, any reference to an occupation is a deliberate attempt to defame and discredit Russia, the self-proclaimed and internationally recognized successor to the Soviet Union.
One criterion of an occupation is the relative size of the foreign military force (larger) versus the domestic forces (smaller) on the territory of the occupied country. By that dimension alone the Baltic experience is unquestionably one of foreign occupation.
Specifically, Lithuania has decided to ban the display of flags, emblems and badges carrying insignia, such as the hammer and sickle or swastika. Prohibited are the Nazi and Soviet anthems (the latter’s lyrics are different from the current Russian national anthem). Also illegal are images of prominent Nazi and Soviet leaders at demonstrations and public gatherings.
According to critics, Lithuania’s new prohibition of totalitarian symbols is tougher than any of those on the books of the 15 countries previously held captive by the Soviet Union. When Estonia legislated a similar ban some years ago, it was deemed blasphemous by Russian officials, even though the Estonian law is seen as relatively moderate compared to Lithuania’s legislation.
The deputy speaker of Russia’s state Duma Ivan Melnikov, a communist, has labelled Lithuania’s parliamentary decision to be an “unfriendly step not only against Russia, but against all countries that use Soviet symbols in one form or another as part of their state symbols. We can certainly take up the issue of naming the political powers in the Baltic states as pariahs who are to be avoided.”
The speaker of the upper chamber of the state Duma, Sergei Mironov, saw clear implications for the future in Lithuania’s new law. “Lithuania’s initiative cannot be taken as an isolated case. September 1, 2009 will mark the anniversary of a sad occasion – the start of the second world war. It’s obvious that certain countries are deliberately laying the groundwork for equally blaming Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union for the war’s inception.”
It’s always been the contention of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia that the August 23, 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (MRP) between Moscow and Berlin laid the political precondition for takeover of central and eastern Europe by the Soviets and Nazis.
Before the USSR collapsed they acknowledged the existence of the secret protocols of the MRP. Russia to date has refused to condemn them.
Lithuania speaks: Nazi = Soviet – both illegal