Russia on Monday accused the European Court of Human Rights of going along with people who seek to rehabilitate Nazis by upholding Latvia's appeal in the case of a Soviet World War II veteran.
Vasily Kononov, 87, who led a group of resistance fighters against Nazi Germany in the Baltic state during World War II, was jailed by Latvia in 1998 after he was convicted of ordering the killing of nine villagers in 1944. He admitted to the killings, but said the dead were Nazi collaborators who were caught in crossfire.
Earlier on Monday, the upper chamber of the European Court of Human Rights upheld the appeal by Latvia against the court's 2008 ruling that the conviction of Kononov was illegal.
"The Grand Chamber of the Court in fact has fallen in line with those who strive to revise the results of World War II and rehabilitate the Nazis and their collaborators," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"We consider the decision of the Grand Chamber... an attempt to put in doubt a range of key political and legal principles, formed on the basis of the results of the World War II and the post-war settlement in Europe," the statement said.
In an interview to RIA Novosti the veteran said he believes Latvia has deceived the Strasbourg court, by failing to submit all of the relevant documents.
"Latvia excluded a range of materials from the case. This is evidence from the country's state archives and witness statements," the veteran said.
He maintained that he did not kill civilians.
"Those civilians [of whose death Kononov is accused] were armed...They actively participated in killing partisans. They lured 12 people into a trap, shoot and burned them. The partisan tribunal investigated this case and found them guilty. They were sentenced to death," Kononov said.
He said the Latvian government was intentionally trying to worsen relations with Russia.
"Latvia has hit out at a sacred issue. They want to create more ways of re-writing World War II history. They want to turn the victors into criminals. They want to halt the thaw in Latvian-Russian relations and broaden the divide between the Latvian and Russian people. And, what's more, they want to rehabilitate the Nazism," Kononov said.
First Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma's Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky warned that the court's decision over the Kononov case could create a precedent for rehabilitating Nazism.
"It is an outrage for Europe, which suffered from Hitler's yoke as much as the Soviet people, and could create a negative tendency towards the justification of Nazi crimes," he said. "All conditions for revising the Nuremberg tribunal sentence have been created, opening up opportunities for historical revanchism."
Kononov's defense will appeal to the Strsabourg Court, Kononov's lawyer said.
MOSCOW, May 17 (RIA Novosti)