Portion of a TV interview with President Medvedev on TV Channel Rossia's 'News of the Week' Programme, August 30, 2009:
Interviewer: You and I are talking today on the eve of an important historic date: September 1, the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War Two.
Now, in Europe, there is an unbelievably wide range of assessments as to why this horrible tragedy was started. What are your thoughts on this matter?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: These events were the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. It was a tragedy that took the lives of about 70 million people, according to various estimates, as this figure has never been fully determined. Thus, there can be no other view of those events. Of course, there is also the issue of how these events are interpreted in different nations. And here, unfortunately, there are some clear setbacks.
Just 20 or 30 years ago, even within the so-called political and ideological blocs that stood in opposition to each other – by which I mean the West and the East, the Warsaw Treaty and NATO – everyone agreed that Nazism had been rightfully condemned by history and that Nazi criminals who were judged in the Nuremberg trials were serving out a just punishment. This was the case, even despite our differences in ideological approaches, which is why I specifically brought it up.
Now, we share relatively common values, and we no longer argue about what we see as the most important values in our societies, the values that should serve as the foundation for our nations, and how we should build our economies.
Nevertheless, we are seeing some astounding trends. Governments in the Baltic States and even Ukraine are now essentially pronouncing former Nazi accomplices to be their national heroes who fought for the liberation of their nations. Of course, everyone knows what really happened, but everyone looks down in shame, so as to avoid souring relations.
There is another situation: the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly just recently grouped together Germany and the Soviet Union, pronouncing them to be equally responsible for World War Two. Now this, quite frankly, is a flat-out lie. One can have different attitudes toward the Soviet Union; one can be critical of the Soviet Union’s political regime and the leaders of what was then our country, but this is the very issue I was just talking about – the issue of who started the war, which country killed people and which country saved people, millions of people, and which country ultimately saved Europe.
I have one final thought regarding this matter. We really must treat our history with a lot of care, especially concerning those issues that were assessed in the same way throughout the world. We cannot destroy the institutions that were formed as a result of those tragic events. We cannot disregard all those things in order to favour some states that are currently developing and are in the process of forming their national identity. We must think about the future. And this, I think, is one of the most important lessons that can be learned from the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the 20th century’s greatest catastrophe – the beginning of World War Two.
These comments are about 24 minutes into this video of the interview.
Medvedev's views are already causing a stir..