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'Watch Me Pull Some History From My Hat'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
As world leaders gathered in Poland to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced moves to equate Stalinism and Nazism, becoming the latest Russian official to vent anger over what the Kremlin calls attempts to "rewrite history."

"Even during the Cold War no one ever tried to put the Nazi regime and Stalin's dictatorship on the same footing. It never occurred to anyone to equate the Nazi threat, which meant the enslavement and annihilation of entire nations, and the policy of the Soviet Union, which was the only force capable of standing up against the war machine of Hitler's Germany and in the end ensuring its defeat," Lavrov told students at a Moscow university.

Poles and others in eastern Europe say Soviet dictator Josef Stalin bears equal responsibility for the outbreak of the war for signing up a secret pact with Nazi Germany that opened the way for the invasion of Poland.

Lavrov's remarks against "the rewriting of history" come on the same day that Russia's SVR foreign intelligence agency announced that Poland was partly to blame for World War II.

The RIA Novosti news agency quoted Lev Sozkov, a major general of the SVR, as saying that the destruction of Poland "was the payback for the short-sightedness of some Polish politicians."

Sozkov said that during visits to Warsaw by Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler's envoy, the Polish leaders had in principle supported the absorption of Austria into Germany.

He said the move made it impossible to assemble an international front of states to resist Nazi Germany. Sozkov says the claim is supported by 400 pages of secret documents from the era, which the SVR has now released.

It will be interesting to see whose history books will be first to carry the update.

-- Wade German

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