Events

Valentina Matviyenko: Russia supports Israel’s efforts against the distortion of WWII history

The speakers of Russian and Israeli parliaments, Valentina Matviyenko and Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, held a videoconference on the release of the film Sobibor.


Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko and Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein held a videoconference on the release of the Russian war drama film Sobibor.

The two speakers agreed last year to hold the event to support the production and distribution of the film.

The film tells the story of Soviet officer Alexander Pechersky, who led an uprising at the Nazi death camp Sobibor in 1943. About 250,000 Jews were killed in that camp.

Valentina Matviyenko expressed confidence that this film, and others like it, would erect a high barrier to the efforts to distort history and would cut short the stream of blatant lies about the past.

“Distorting the truth about the past for short-lived political considerations is immoral, irresponsible and very dangerous,” she said.

The speaker of the Russian Parliament’s upper house pointed out that people in Russia hold sacred the memory of those who fought against Nazism. She recalled the Federation Council’s initiative to recognise victory over Nazism in the Second World War as World Heritage and to protect the monuments to the fighters against Nazism as a Global Memorial. Valentina Matviyenko proposed establishing a task force comprising Russian and Israeli MPs, lawmakers from other countries and representatives of international public organisations to promote this initiative. “We have also proposed compiling a Global Register of Monuments to Fighters against Nazism and Fascism,” she said.

Ms Matviyenko said that the older generation had been “inoculated” against the crimes of fascists, Nazis and their cohorts. “It is vital that we share this truth with the younger generation. This truth must be reflected in fiction and history textbooks,” she said.

“Aggressive nationalism and fascism are rearing their ugly heads in some countries. This is very dangerous, and we must do our best to hinder this. We must use every opportunity at our disposal to cut short this dangerous development. The MPs can do much to lay bare the attempts to distort history if they join efforts towards this,” Valentina Matviyenko said, adding that these efforts must be systematic.

The Speaker said that joint efforts to hinder the attempts to rewrite history are an established component of Russian-Israeli inter-parliamentary interaction.

Valentina Matviyenko proposed establishing a joint commission to monitor attempts to falsify history. She believes that MPs from other countries, members of civil society and representatives of public organisations could be involved in this work.

Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein shared the view that the tragic events of the war must not be forgotten. Every one of us can contribute to the preservation of the memory of heroes and acts of heroism, he said. Mr Edelstein added that the film Sobibor could help keep up the flame of truth in people’s hearts.

Replying to a question about Russia’s involvement in the International Steering Committee of the project to commemorate the victims of the Sobibor death camp, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein pointed out that the committee is not made up of government officials but various NGOs and foundations. The larger such committees are and the more countries are involved the better it is, especially when the issue concerns the countries whose soldiers, civilians and victims of such camps fought against Nazism and brought about victory over it.

The Knesset Speaker said he supported the idea of expanding the cooperation framework of the friendship groups of the Federation Council and the Knesset.

The agenda of the videoconference included a roundtable for MPs from Russia and Israel, who held a discussion on the heroism of Soviet soldiers, the Soviet Union’s decisive contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany, the preservation of public memory about these events, and measures to prevent the revision of WWII results and the falsification of history.

Robert Ilatov, chair of the Israel-Russia Parliamentary Friendship League, spoke about unacceptable attempts to distort the history of WWII and called for interaction of MPs from the Federation Council and the Knesset so as to preserve the truth about the war, the Holocaust and the heroism of the liberators.

Mr Ilatov also touched upon the issue of Russia’s involvement in the International Steering Committee of the Sobibor project. All parties must be urged to withdraw their political objections, he said. It is not a matter of political views on WWII facts. There are no reasons why Russian representatives cannot sit on the Steering Committee, the Israeli MP said.

Other participants in the discussion included Head of the Federation Council’s Friendship Group with the Knesset Rostislav Goldshtein, Chair of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev, and Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Yelena Afanasyeva.

Welcoming remarks were made by Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren and Russian Ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein.

Over 700 people attended the videoconference at the Federation Council TV studio.

The Russian participants included Head of the Federation Council’s Friendship Group with the Knesset and member of the Federation Council Committee on the Budget and Financial Markets Rostislav Goldshtein, member of the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy Vladimir Krugly, Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Yelena Afanasyeva, member of the Federation Council Committee on House Rules and Parliamentary Governance Nadezhda Boltenko, member of the Federation Council Committee on Agriculture and Food Policy and Environmental Management Tatyana Gigel, First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov, member of the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy Tatyana Lebedeva, member of the Federation Council Committee on the Budget and Financial Markets Valery Semyonov, Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Economic Policy Vyacheslav Timchenko, member of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Sergei Tsekov, member of the Federation Council Committee on Federal Structure, Regional Policy, Local Government and Northern Affairs Anatoly Shirokov, and Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Agriculture and Food Policy and Environmental Management Mikhail Shchetinin.

The event was also attended by members of the Israeli Embassy in the Russian Federation, representatives of the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC), members of the Sobibor film crew and representatives of the Alexander Pechersky Foundation, historians, inmates of concentration camps, as well as delegates from charitable and religious organisations.

There were some 200 participants from the Knesset plus Russian and Israeli journalists.

Federation Council Press Service