In the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s onslaught of lies launched at Polish history, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda told the Financial Times (FT) that his Russian counterpart resorts to “a kind of post-Stalinist revisionism” and accused him of spreading a “historical lie”.
“The words of Vladimir Putin are a complete distortion of historical truth. We give it a very direct name, it is an ideology, it is a kind of post-Stalinist revisionism,” Mr Duda told the FT at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw.
“Some claim that this is propaganda-based hybrid warfare . . . Some experts claim that Putin’s words are used for the purpose of internal propaganda. For us, it doesn’t make a difference. For us, what matters is that this historical lie is being spread around the world. And we can absolutely not accept this,” Mr Duda said.
On January 23, four days before the event in Auschwitz, the Holocaust memorial centre Yad Vashem in Jerusalem is to host its own commemoration of the liberation. Although Poland’s President was invited, he was not given the right to speak at Yad Vashem, unlike other leaders including Vladimir Putin. Given the circumstances, Mr Duda decided it would be better to stay in Poland, abstaining from participation in the event in Israel.
According to the FT, Mr Duda insisted that, as the event in Yad Vashem was being organised by a private organisation rather than the Israeli state, the refusal to allow him to speak was not due to any breach in Polish-Israeli relations. Nevertheless, Poland’s president said that given Mr Putin’s recent claims about WWII, a situation in which the Russian president would be able to speak, while he would not, was untenable.
“Frankly speaking, in this context, my absence in Yad Vashem . . . is a protest against the distortion of history by the Russian president,” he said.
Top US officials interviewed by Bloomberg said the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman and Tom Rose, Senior Advisor to Mike Pence, both tried to intervene with the Israeli authorities. Tom Rose told Bloomberg that the US is “very disappointed by what we view as a preventable and unnecessary snub by one strong American ally of another strong American ally”.