I posted the above picture of the entrance to the Estonian Museum of Occupation, as it appears that my earlier musings concerning Baltic observation of Victory Day this Monday weren't just the random thoughts of some ex-pat in Kiev, but that they are growing into a larger international issue. Turns out that the Presidents of Estonia and Lithuania have refused invitations to attend Victory Day celebrations in Moscow on Monday. They don't view it as victory for their countries, but as the beginning of their occupation. The President of Latvia will be attending, but will be using the occasion to highlight Soviet Occupation.
What absolutely kills me is this story that showed up in the Washington Post this morning. The basic summary is that the Russian Government expressed it's extreme displeasure over a letter sent by President Bush to Latvian President Freiberga in which he acknowledges that Victory Day also marks the start of unwanted Soviet occupation for the Baltic countries.
How is this controversial? During the entire Cold War the U.S. NEVER recognized Soviet annexation of the Baltic states.
And for Russia to deny that it occupied these countries is borderline farcical. Perhaps someone needs to send the Russian Embassies in Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius copies of the "secret" sections of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
"One cannot use the term 'occupation' to describe those historical events, at that time, the troop deployment took place on an agreed basis and with the clearly expressed agreement of the existing authorities in the Baltic republics." Says Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Russian Ambassador to the EU.
I'll cut out the bullshit of that statement and not go out on too far of a limb to think that what he means is: "She was asking for it, your honor."
UPDATE: More here from the BBC, which had pretty good coverage of all this last night. And for anyone reading this from Western Ukraine or other places in Central Europe, I will reprint verbatim a note that appeared in an article on this subject in the Action Ukraine Report.
The end of the war also did not bring freedom for Ukraine and many other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ultima Thule has some great thoughts on this, just go there and start scrolling. She also brings up something I completely forgot to post about that is absolutely ridiculous. The Russian Ambassador to Ukraine, Victor Chernomyrdin, recently stated that Russia couldn't be held responsible for crimes against humanity that took place in the Soviet Union, including the Ukrainian famine. If any country was responsible for the Ukrainian famine, he said it was Georgia; after all, Stalin was Georgian.
Look, I'm not bashing Soviet efforts during the war here. The country, people, and Army took an absolute beating during those four years that's really incomprehensible to people today. You read accounts about how awful Fallujah was...well the Russian front in WWII was worse, and it wasn't just one town, it ran from Karelia to Volgograd. Prisoners weren't "abused", they were just executed. So were civilians, en masse. The whole country suffered. Casualties were in the millions.
What I am bashing is the revisionism and the blatant attempt to have it both ways that seems to be going on in Russia right now. As Aussiegirl says, the Russian Govt. seems to be taking this upcoming anniversary as an attempt to lay a Russian claim on the victory and sacrifice of the Second World War while at the same time refusing to acknowledge anything bad that came out of their victory. There's no acknowledgement, let alone discussion of the forcible annexation of the Baltics, Western Ukraine, and Moldova. There's no mention of all the Red Army POWs that, upon liberation from German camps, were immediately sent to the Gulags..."obvious" traitors to the Motherland.
History is written by the victors, but freedom, democracy, and the West was also a victor in May of 1945. While we should rightly honor the sacrifices, contributions, and ultimate victory of Red Army veterans and Soviet people, we cannot let the current, and increasingly undemocratic, Russian government and their selective historical memory use elements of that victory to advance their own current, nationalistic, needs.