On the orders of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats, military officers, and party officials were imprisoned and executed in 1936-37 throughout the Soviet Union.
"Other countries have done even more terrible things," Putin said in televised remarks. "At least we've never used nuclear weapons against civilians, never poured chemicals on thousands of kilometers, or dropped seven times as many bombs as were used in [World War II] on a small country, as it was done in Vietnam, for instance."
Putin was speaking on June 21 at the Novo-Ogaryovo presidential residence during a meeting with social-studies teachers.
He urged other countries to "think about themselves" instead of trying to impose a feeling of guilt on Russia.
Putin nonetheless admitted there were "terrible pages" in Russia's history.