Russia's Putin Warns of Rising neo-Nazism in Europe

Ahead of visit to Belgrade's Liberation Day parade, Russian president told Serbian daily 'the Nazi virus 'vaccine' created' at Nuremberg 'is losing its effect' in parts of Europe.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin in Gorno-Altaisk, Siberia, Russia on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Gorno-Altaisk, Siberia, Russia on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.Credit: AP

Ahead of his visit to the first Liberation Day parade in Serbia for decades, President Vladimir Putin has warned about rising neo-Nazism in Europe, the U.K.'s Guardian reports, amid simmering tensions between Russia and the EU.

The parade on Thursday saw guns, tanks and planes back in Serbia's capital to mark the day the Yugoslav Partisans and the Red Army liberated the city from the Nazis. The event itself was held four days ahead of the anniversary on October 20 to ensure that guest of honor Putin could attend on his way to a summit in Milan. Thursday's parade took place for the first time in three decades.

Ahead of the visit, Russian news agency RIA Novosti published excerpts of Putin's interview with Serbian newspaper Politika, in which he blamed rising neo-Nazism for the conflict in Ukraine.

“Regrettably, in some European countries the Nazi virus 'vaccine' created at the Nuremberg Tribunal is losing its effect. This is clearly demonstrated by open manifestations of neo-Nazism that have already become commonplace in Latvia and other Baltic states. The situation in Ukraine, where nationalists and other radical groups provoked an anti-constitutional coup d’état in February, causes particular concern in this respect,” according to the full text of the interview published by RT.

"Today, it is our shared duty to combat the glorification of Nazism. We must firmly oppose the attempts to revise the results of WWII and consistently combat any forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism," Putin said.

Putin's attendance was a gesture with huge symbolism in a Cold-War-style East-West split over Ukraine that has forced Serbia, politically indebted to Russia but seeing its economic future with the European Union, into a delicate balancing act.

Despite the tensions between Brussels and the Kremlin, Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said in a television interview this week that Serbia's desire to join the EU is not in conflict with its ties to Russia.

“Serbia is going towards the EU, which is a strategical goal, but that it will not impose sanctions on Russia for many reasons, economical being one of them,” The Guardian cited him as saying. “Our policy is not swaying but firm, hard, decisive and clear. For a year and a half it is not moving, neither to the left nor to the right.”

Serbia has pledged its respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, whose own moves towards the EU prompted Moscow's annexation of Crimea and a pro-Russian revolt in the east. But Belgrade has refused to join the West's sanctions on Russia, something the EU's new commissioner tasked with accession negotiations, Johannes Hahn, said Belgrade would "have to address."

Vucic said that he hopes Putin's visit will result in trade and investment deals between the two countries, but would be unpopular with the EU.

Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told reporters last week that on his visit, "Putin will hear that Serbia is on the European path. We have other relations we are developing with the Russian Federation, but the strategic goal is not in question – Serbia is on the EU path."

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