Zakharova reminds Johnson of top-tier Brits at 1936 Nazi Olympics after Putin-Hitler innuendo
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson earlier agreed with an MP who said that “Putin is going to use it [the World Cup] in the way Hitler used the 1936 Olympics” – to boost Russia's image. In response, Maria Zakharova took the time during a news briefing on Thursday to call out London on how it endorsed the Nazi-hosted 1936 games by sending a high-profile delegation.
Speaking of the makeup of the delegation, Zakharova cited a German brochure that listed the “honorable guests.” It enumerated the British dignitaries, including the head of the British Olympic Association, its secretary general, as well as three British representatives in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and a number of British heads of the International sports federations that attended the Games.
“This means nothing other than that the abovementioned individuals took part in official events with regards to the Olympics, visited the stadiums and the opening ceremony and, also, actively interacted with local officials in 1936 Berlin," Zakharova said, noting that, at that time, Germany was “already poisoned” by the Nazi ideology.
“A system of concentration camps for the opponents of the Nazi regime, anti-social elements, convicts and other categories of citizens was already created at that point,” she said, before asking Johnson if he does not find it “nauseating” that so many high-ranking Brits were welcomed by Hitler.
While British diplomatic corps members were performing their official functions at the Games, Zakharova said, the dignitaries listed in the brochure went to Berlin “of their own will,” by choice rather than duty.
“Mr. Johnson, what did those honorable British sports officials do as Hitler’s guests? Tell that to your country,” she said.
The Soviet Union was not a part of the Olympic movement until 1951, when its National Olympic Committee was founded. It made its debut at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.
Johnson's implied comparison was earlier lambasted by another high-ranking Moscow official. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov branded the allusion “totally disgusting” and “not appropriate for any foreign minister.”
The UK foreign secretary uttered the remark on March 21 at the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, when he agreed with Labour MP Ian Austin's insinuation.
“I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right,” Johnson said, adding that it was “an emetic prospect” to think of “Putin glorying in this sporting event.”
Johnson is not the only member of the British PM Theresa May's cabinet to accuse Russia of Nazi-like practices.
This week, Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson of the "go away and shut up" fame accused Russia of using internet bots to plant “distorted narratives” online to generate confusion over what the UK believes is Moscow’s ultimate guilt in the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. Moscow has repeatedly denied all the allegations, which have so far been supported with no solid proof, and lamented the UK’s unwillingness to cooperate on the case.
“We have to make sure that that narrative is countered. It is effectively the Lord Haw-Haws of the modern era,“ he told the Times, referring to William Joyce, an American-born fascist who became notorious for producing English-language Nazi propaganda in Germany.