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Russia's Anti-Swastika Crusade Hits Toy Stores, Bookstores, And Museums


A journalist in Smolensk was prosecuted for posting this historic photo of a courtyard under Nazi occupation on VKontakte.

A journalist in Smolensk was prosecuted for posting this historic photo of a courtyard under Nazi occupation on VKontakte.

Russian authorities are conducting a nationwide campaign to rid the country of Nazi insignia in the run-up to Victory Day on May 9.

The celebration of Nazi Germany's surrender in World War II, one of the most important holidays in Russia, has taken on a new meaning as Moscow presses on with its efforts to portray Ukraine's new pro-European leadership as Nazi sympathizers.

In November 2014, Russia introduced a new law prohibiting the "public demonstration or propaganda" of Nazi symbolism.

The unfolding crackdown, however, is raising eyebrows in Russia and beyond.

Authorities have raided toy stores and antique shops selling World War II paraphernalia, fined the use of historical photos, and prompted stores to remove an award-winning book denouncing the Holocaust.

Toy Soldiers

Russia's most famous toy store is in hot water for selling figurines representing World War II Nazi officers, including of the feared Waffen SS.

Investigators opened a criminal case against the Central Children's Store on charges of "inciting hatred and hostility" and "abasing the dignity" of Soviet war veterans.

Investigators opened a criminal case against the Central Children's Store on charges of "inciting hatred and hostility" and "abasing the dignity" of Soviet war veterans.

Investigators opened a criminal case against the Central Children's Store in downtown Moscow, previously known as Children's World, in early April on charges of "inciting hatred and hostility" and "abasing the dignity" of Soviet war veterans.

The premises were searched, vendors were questioned, and the owner received a warning about violating the Russian law on extremism.

The Central Children's Store, located across from Moscow's KGB headquarters, triumphantly reopened in late March after seven years of renovations.

An online poll showed that 65 percent of Russians disapproved of the case against the store.

Holocaust Graphic Novel

Moscow's biggest bookstores, eager to comply with the official guidelines, have pulled an award-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust from their shelves.

Maus, by U.S. artist and author Art Spiegelman, tells the story of a Jewish family during World War II.

It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and is inspired by the story of Spiegelman's father, a Polish Jew who moved to the United States after surviving the Holocaust.

The book cover shows a Nazi swastika.

Historic World War II Photo

A journalist in Smolensk was prosecuted for posting a historic photo of a courtyard under Nazi occupation on VKontakte, Russia's biggest social networking site.

The historic picture shows Nazi soldiers standing at attention and a flag with a swastika.

Smolensk was under Nazi occupation between 1941 and 1943.

Polina Petruseva, who writes under the pen name Polina Danilevich, was detained by armed police officers at the office of her newspaper.

She was found guilty in March of violating the Russian law banning Nazi symbolism and fined 1,000 rubles ($16).

She could have faced a prison sentence.

She told RFE/RL that her great-grandparents were resistance fighters and her grandfather survived Nazi concentration camps as a child.

She said she had taken the pen name Danilevich, her great-grandparents' surname, in their honor.

Soviet-Era Posters

The newly opened U.S.S.R. Museum in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, on the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia's Far East, is following the government's directive to the letter.

Museum employees have placed stickers on all the swastikas featured in the museum's new exhibition of Soviet World War II posters, many of which portray the swastika being crushed or in the form of animals such as wolves and snakes.

Employees told local journalists they had consulted prosecutors and Roskomnadzor, Russia's mass media regular, before proceeding.

The exhibition is dedicated to Victory Day.

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