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It's OK to fine someone for repeating a historical fact, says Russian Supreme Court

Truly bizarre decision over web post about invasion of Poland in 1939

By Kieren McCarthy, 3 Sep 2016

The Russian Supreme Court has upheld a conviction against a blogger who correctly noted that the Soviet Union jointly invaded Poland with the Nazi government in 1939.

The truly bizarre decision follows the conviction of 37-year-old Vladimir Luzgin earlier this year for posting "knowingly false information," under a new law that is supposed to prevent the glorification of Nazism, but which critics say is being used to rewrite Russian history and quash critics of Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea.

Luzgin was fined 200,000 roubles ($3,000) for correctly stating that the Soviet Union had collaborated with the Nazis to invade Poland in 1939. He wrote:

The communists and Germany jointly invaded Poland, sparking off the Second World War. That is, communism and Nazism closely collaborated, yet for some reason they blame Bandera, who was in a German concentration camp, for declaring Ukrainian independence.

Despite the collaboration being an historical fact, the Supreme Court decided that Luzgin's post constituted a "public denial of the Nuremberg Trials" and provided "false information about the activities of the USSR during the years of the Second World War."

A report of the trial by an organization monitoring human rights in Ukraine noted that history professor Alexander Vertinsky acted for the prosecution and argued that the post "did not correspond with the position accepted at international level."

Twisted

The claim about the post "denying" the Nuremberg trials is based on the twisted logic that the trials did not mention Russia's invasion of Poland. That much is true – largely because Russia played a significant role in the trials and so steered them away from any discussion of Russia's early collaboration with Nazi Germany.

Of course, that doesn't mean the coordinated invasion didn't happen – it did, as any number of historians would be willing to confirm, as well as millions of Poles. It has long been known that the agreement to invade Poland took place under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which was secret at the time but is now readily available and referenced in just about every World War Two history book.

The issue, of course, is that Luzgin both criticized the Kremlin and supported Ukraine. The post was titled "15 facts about Bandera supporters, or what the Kremlin is silent about."

The Bandera referred to is Stepan Bandera, an historical figure that became a famed Ukranian nationalist. He was assassinated by the KGB in 1959 and has become a figurehead for a new movement critical of Russia's annexation of Crimea and its continued interference in the country.

As a result, the Kremlin has been clamping down on people posting about Bandera. That the country's supreme court has decided to ignore historical fact in order to uphold a purely political prosecution is an extraordinary new low however.

Luzgin's lawyer, Henry Reznik, said after the decision that the Supreme Court had "discredited itself" and said he would appeal the ruling. ®

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