The Victim Becomes the Perpetrator

The Russian View of Poland

20 February 2020

It is difficult to estimate how far the anti-Polish political and media campaign will go, inspired and instigated by actions from the Kremlin. It may have far-reaching consequences for Russian citizens’ relationship with Poland and the Poles.

At the end of 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin made several addresses on the causes and consequences of the Soviet-German treaty of August 1939, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. He did so in various forums – from a live annual press conference to the Community of Independent States Summit in St. Petersburg, to the Russian Defence Ministry College.

This unusual activity by the head of the Russian state was framed by several pro-Kremlin media outlets as part of the preparations for the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazism, and that Putin was responding to attempts by “certain forces” in the West to manipulate the history of the Second World War and the pre-war politics of some European states.

Putin the Historian

Vladimir Putin

It is very likely that Putin’s reaction was provoked by the European Parliament’s resolution on the importance of historical memory in Europe, approved in September 2019, which underlined the co-responsibility of Nazi Germany and the Communist Soviet Union for the start of the Second World War.

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Grigorij Mesežnikov

Grigorij Mesežnikov is a political scientist and the President of the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) in Slovakia. He has published expert studies on party systems’ development and political aspects of transformation in post-communist societies, illiberal and authoritarian tendencies, populism, nationalism and hybrid threats in various monographs, collections and scholarly journals in Slovakia and other countries.

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