MOSCOW, January 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russian legislators threatened to criminalize World War II revisionism after being outraged by an online survey that asked if Leningrad should have surrendered to the Nazis.
The poll appeared on Sunday on the website of the liberal online television channel Dozhd (“Rain”).
It was taken down within minutes, but still sparked a vehement backlash.
“Such actions should always be treated as a crime of restoring Nazism,” ultraconservative lawmaker Irina Yarovaya of the ruling United Russia party said Monday.
The populist Liberal Democratic Party will draft a bill to criminalize “insulting and desecrating the memory of the Great Patriotic War,” party member Igor Lebedev said Monday, using the Russian name for World War II.
Lebedev, a deputy speaker of parliament, did not give a timeframe or say what the proposed punishment under the law would be.
The TV channel apologized for the poll on Twitter on Monday, calling it “a mistake by the producer … and the social network editor.”
A supposed screenshot of the poll available on Twitter showed that 54 percent supported the would-be surrender of Leningrad. The number of respondents was not specified.
Leningrad lost between 600,000 and 1.5 million of its 2.5 million prewar population, by various estimates, during the Nazi siege from 1941 to 1944.
The city, since renamed St. Petersburg, celebrates the 70th anniversary of the siege’s end on Monday.
Russia has attempted to regulate history before. A Kremlin commission against the “falsification of history” existed in 2009-2012, and unified guidelines for school history lessons have been drafted last year on the direct order of President Vladimir Putin.
Three bills criminalizing “the restoration of Nazism” have been filed with parliament since 2010, the latest, from last year, drafted by Yarovaya. All remain in legislative limbo.