Staunton, July 8 – Russian nationalists and even Russian officials have invoked the word genocide to describe the mistreatment of ethnic Russians in non-Russian countries; and so it is no surprise that now some officials are pressing for international recognition of what they describe as the genocide of Russians by the Germans during World War II.
This week, prosecutors in Pskov Oblast have asked a court there to recognize as genocide the crimes of German troops in the occupied territories of the USSR during World War II (nazaccent.ru/content/36108-pskovichi-potrebovali-priznat-genocidom-prestupleniya-fashistov.html).
This application follows new discoveries of mass graves in various parts of the oblast (nazaccent.ru/content/33737-sk-rf-vozbudil-ugolovnoe-delo-o.html and nazaccent.ru/content/33420-zahoronenie-ubityh-nacistami-grazhdan-raz-nashli.html).
Beyond its obvious propagandistic value for Russian officials who following the line of Vladimir Putin have made the events of World War II central to the kind of national identity they want Russians to have, this case almost certainly is intended to create the foundation for a broader appeal to the international community.
The Russian authorities could certainly use it to counter charges of acts of genocide by Soviet and Russian officials and also to place Russia within the community of victims of genocide by others, a placement that would give Moscow certain propagandistic advantages on the world stage.