Russia will take into account acts of disrespect towards Soviet World War II victims when deciding its foreign policy with its neighbors, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday.
The statement follows several disputes with former Soviet states over the desecration by nationalists of memorials dedicated to the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.
“It is up for voters to elect their own leaders, and if the new leaders dance on the bones of people who defended their country, we cannot but take it into consideration in our foreign policy,” Medvedev told junior members of Russia’s major parties in the central Russian town of Kostoma.
The Russian authorities were outraged on Monday at reports that nationalists in western Ukraine picked fights with veterans, tore and burnt Soviet flags and stamped on a wreath for war victims during annual Victory Day celebrations.
Victory Day is still a major event on the Russian calendar, largely because of the scale of the loss suffered by the Soviet Union, where some 23 million people were killed.
Many in Ukraine and other parts of the former Soviet Union, however, consider the losses incurred on their countries by Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s purge equally as painful.
Recent moves by the authorities of Estonia, Latvia and Georgia to dismantle Soviet memorials and allow parades in honor of the Nazi Waffen-SS have led to diplomatic disputes with Russia.
“I find [the positions of] Estonia, Georgia and Ukraine as sad as you do,” Medvedev said on Friday. “It shows that these countries have underdeveloped political foundations, but it is not up to us to go around criticizing them.”
KOSTROMA, May 13 (RIA Novosti)