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Kremlin Calls For Halt To 'Persecution' Of Russian Teenager Over Speech In Germany

Nikolai Desyatnichenko
Nikolai Desyatnichenko

The Kremlin has slammed what it called the "exalted persecution" of a Russian high-school student who said that some German soldiers did not want to fight in World War II.

Russian student Nikolai Desyatnichenko, in a November 19 speech in the German parliament in Berlin, lamented the loss of life during the war, and told the story of a German soldier who was taken prisoner during the Battle of Stalingrad and later died in a prison camp, saying that many of the Germans "wanted to live peacefully and didn't want to fight."

Desyatnichenko's school in Russia's far northern Novy Urengoi region had participated in a joint academic project with a German high school, studying the biographies of some of the victims of the war.

His speech before the Bundestag came on the occasion of an annual German remembrance for the military personnel and civilians killed in wars and from political oppression, and sparked a furious reaction back home, with some commentators calling for him to be beaten up, while others said he should be kicked out of Russia.

But President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists on November 21 that there was no "Nazi ideology propaganda" in Desyatnichenko's words.

Meanwhile, Russia's presidential ombudswoman for children, Anna Kuznetsova, called on law enforcement on November 21 to ensure the safety of Desyatnichenko and his family.

Based on reporting by TASS and RIA Novosti