May 11, Moscow (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Romanov). The VE Day celebrations left an ambiguous aftertaste.
On the one hand, the holiday was a success. For the first time, veterans seemed to be in the center of attention, as they deserved to be. In the past, veterans' medals were merely a decorative attribute for the top officials of the country.
Still, there is a fly in the ointment.
Our WWII and current ally in the anti-terrorist coalition, the United States, decided to teach Russians a lesson of true democracy in the run-up to the gala event. As usual, the Americans did not take the trouble of choosing the time, place and the appropriate tone. Political correctness has never been Washington's strong point. President Bush who recently surrounded Russia with an entire breed of "Bush men", i.e. countries that meet America's democratic requirements, chose to precede his Moscow visit with a trip to Latvia, and crowned his tour with Georgia. In both countries, he not unfavorably heard numerous insulting remarks about Russia.
Shortly before his arrival in Moscow, Bush said he supported the Baltic nations' demand to replace the word "liberation" with "occupation." In other words, in the midst of the VE Day celebrations the Russians were advised to assume the name of "occupants" and repent of the Molotov-Ribbenthrop Pact. However, the Americans forgot or preferred to forget that the pact had long been condemned by the Russians and, moreover, was preceded by the Munich agreement.
The hear-nothing, see-nothing and remember-nothing principle can be a big advantage in politics. The "leader of global democracy", for example, failed to notice Soviet veterans in Riga who fought side by side with American soldiers against the Nazis. Nor did he seem to see Latvian SS veterans who, blessed by the Latvian authorities, march proudly along the streets of an EU country. Surprisingly, the U.S. leader did not drop in to shake hands with the Lithuanian president, Valdas Adamkus, who is the only surviving head of state who fought for Nazi Germany in WWII. In August-October 1944, Adamkus served in the 2nd regiment of the brigade headed by Wehrmacht Colonel Georg Mader. Bush should have also visited the empty synagogue in Vilnius. Before the war, Jews dominated the population of Vilnius, but none of them have survived thanks to people like Adamkus and Mader. He could also have called in at Estonia to meet Estonian SS veterans, who were laying flowers to their "brothers-in-arms."
Politics is a dirty business. On the following day, Bush was standing next to our veterans and smiling brightly at the "occupants" carrying the Red Banner that was hoisted over Reichstag in 1945. A few hours later, he was listening to Mikhail Saakashvili in Tbilisi. The speaker did not hesitate to rank Russia together with the Persians who, incidentally, exterminated most of the Georgian population. Saakashvili, one of the "Bush men," decided to interpret history in a convenient way, forgetting that the Georgians had begged the Russian tsar for many years to include them in the Russian empire, which then happened. Bush listened carefully to this nonsense, as he did not study Georgian history at school. Saakashvili, in turn, lied to his guest with inspiration. The latter was pleased. The Russians were not.
The Russians have nothing against repentance. But it is something that should be done together. Tony Blair, for example, could bend down too in front of the Czechs and apologize for the Munich agreement whose co-authors were Chamberlain and Hitler, and for Churchill and Stalin cynically dividing East Europe. Adamkus and Estonian SS legionnaires could join him. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, a lady in black, should also ask for forgiveness, for she, as the Latvian president who is not indifferent to SS, spends no money at all on preserving the Salaspils death camp in a sign of indifference to its victims.
A recent television program showed an interview with a Latvian nationalist historian who said that calling Salaspils "where thousands of people died a death camp is tantamount to insulting the victims of Auschwitz, who were in the millions." It is an interesting logic for a person who considers himself to be a democrat. Salaspils was a death camp for children, who were used for all sorts of experiments and whose blood was pumped out for Nazi soldiers. Of course, the camp outside Riga could be renamed into "children's Auschwitz", if it so pleases Vike-Freiberga and the "math professor".
As for the U.S. president, he probably knows deep in his heart what American sins are all about: bleeding Iraqi children alone would have long wiped the smile off anyone else's face.
Hence, the Russians are ready to take a closer look at their history, and do justice to everyone. For example, Vike-Freiberga could have back the infamous Latvian snipers with Russian blood on their hands, and Saakashvili - Stalin and Beria. So why not repent, together?