‘Never forget what your enemy looks like’: MPs allow use of swastika to condemn Nazi ideology

Nazi standards tossed to the ground during the Victory Parade on Red Square in Moscow on June 24, 1945. © Sputnik

The swastika and other symbols of the Third Reich can be used, but only if it’s done to condemn Nazism, the State Duma ruled. The previous legislation was too harsh, even making addressing classic WWII movies a problem.

There was an outright ban on Nazi symbols in Russia due to them offending the memory of the grave losses suffered by the country during the Great Patriotic War against the German invaders in 1941-45.

But the amendments to the relevant law, which MPs passed in the second reading on Tuesday, allow for the restrictions to be lifted in cases when those symbols are used “to form a negative attitude towards the ideology of Nazism and when signs of propaganda or justification of Nazism are absent.” This includes art, science, education and all other areas.

The changes were needed to correct “an absurd situation,” one of the deputies behind the initiative, Elena Yampolskaya, explained.

Our people want to honor the memory of their ancestors and uphold the legacy of the Great Patriotic War, but doing this through visual means, while avoiding any Nazi symbols, is almost impossible.

Yampolskaya wondered how the authors of the previous legislation could forget about the World War II movies from the “golden portfolio” of Soviet cinema; patriotic posters from that period, which may, for example, show “a Soviet soldier smashing the swastika – a Nazi symbol – with his foot,” historic photos, videos and other materials.

A screenshot from the iconic TV series 'Seventeen Moments of Spring' (1971-73), telling the story of a Soviet spy embedded among the ranks of the top Nazi commanders in Berlin. © Sputnik

A total ban on Nazi symbols is also wrong as “one should never forget, what his enemies look like,” she added.

Last year, the implementation of the overly strict law saw almost 100 people subject to a 15-day administrative arrest. Over 1,600 Russians were also fined for the use of Nazi symbols.

A Soviet patriotic poster from 1945, stating: “The enemy is insidious – don’t lose your guard.” © Sputnik

Among them, was a man, who posted the photo of the iconic moment when Nazi standards were tossed on the pavement of Red Square after the German capitulation in 1945. He said he found the picture in a school book, but was still ordered to pay 1,000 rubles (around $16) by the court, with the ruling facing a public backlash.

A collector, who was trying to sell Nazi insignia, was also fined as the image of a swastika wasn’t blurred on the photo of the item he uploaded online. The symbol should’ve been also covered during the actual face-to-face transaction, the judge ruled.

Date and time of publication: 29 Apr 2020, 21:29
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