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Russian lawmakers on Wednesday adopted a bill to impose fines on anyone who equates the role the Soviet Union played in World War II to Nazi Germany – a position it claims is necessary to counter “slander” by Baltic nations.
In the third and final reading of a bill first introduced two days before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, fines and prison sentences were attached to a 2021 law that banned language associating actions by the USSR with Adolf Hitler’s Germany.
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The bill bars comments from the public sphere, the internet or by media outlets that draw parallels between “the goals, decisions and actions” by Soviet leadership under Joseph Stalin and military actions taken under Nazi Germany.
The denial of the “decisive role” that the USSR played in defeating Hitler is also prohibited.
The Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin fought against Nazi occupation and suffered immense losses throughout World War II.
As many 12 million people were killed in Nazi concentration camps while another 30 million deaths were attributed to the war sparked by Hitler.
But Stalin has also been remembered as a brutal dictator with as many as 40 million Soviet deaths occurring under his regime from “unnatural causes.”
Russians could face a fine of up to 2,000 rubles or arrest time for as long as 15 days for violating the Kremlin’s ban. Government officials could be hit with a 4,000 ruble fine and companies could pay as much as 50,000 rubles.
Fines can more than double for repeat offenders.
“In recent years, ‘experts’ from Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic countries, local ‘political scientists’ have actively slandered the history of the Second World War,” the Russian parliament said in a statement Wednesday. “Now slander is against our armed forces, which are fighting for the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine.”
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Moscow has repeatedly tried to justify its deadly invasion of Ukraine by falsely claiming its mission is to “denazify” Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin invoked World War II at the onslaught of his invasion more than 40 days ago, when he announced a “special military operation” that would “protect people who for eight years now have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime.”
Putin’s comments were in reference to areas in eastern and southern Ukraine that had been illegally occupied by Russian troops since 2014.
The U.S. and United Nations have flatly rejected Putin’s assertions as a falsified guise to achieve his desire to overthrow Kyiv and instate a puppet regime that would politically align with Moscow.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, has voiced his indignation at Russian attempts to justify Putin’s invasion through claims of Nazi activity.
Zelenskyy has also said that several of his ancestors were killed by Nazi’s during World War II.