This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced those citizens who do not share the Kremlin’s interpretation of the history of World War II, calling them “collaborators.”
Putin made the comments on September 1 while taking part in a nationwide online class to commemorate the first day of the school year in Russia.
Putin said that the West had been trying to rewrite the history of the war against Nazi Germany since the Cold War ended.
“But those who now agree with the people who initiate the rewriting of history may well be called modern-day collaborators,” Putin said, adding that “such people have always existed and will always exist everywhere.”
Putin has frequently accused European countries of “rewriting history” by allegedly diminishing the role of the Soviet Union in the defeat of Nazi Germany and stressing atrocities committed by Soviet forces, like the mass murder of Polish officers in Katyn Forest in 1940.
Historians in the West also say the 1939 nonaggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany facilitated the outbreak of World War II, which Russian officials vehemently disagree with.
Last year, the world marked the 80th anniversary of the accord – known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact — in which Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to divide up Central and Eastern Europe.
Soviet forces took over eastern Poland, eventually massacring more than 20,000 of the country’s officers whom they had taken prisoner.
The Nazis eventually betrayed the pact with their surprise invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.