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22 Oct, 2023 12:56

Germans should avoid copying Canadian Nazi sympathizers – Putin

The Russian president has advised against stigmatizing former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder over his affiliations with Moscow
Germans should avoid copying Canadian Nazi sympathizers  – Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Germans that by trying to ostracize former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder over his ties to Moscow they end up repeating the mistake of the Canadian parliament, which applauded a Nazi SS veteran.

In an interview released on Sunday by journalist Pavel Zarubin, the Russian leader was asked to comment on attempts to stigmatize Schroeder, who recently reiterated that Putin remains his friend despite the two having opposing views on the Ukraine conflict.

Bild reported recently that at a ceremony marking the 33rd anniversary of German reunification, Schroeder was seated as far away from incumbent Chancellor Olaf Scholz as possible.

“You know, we have just recently witnessed an appalling incident in the Canadian parliament where a Nazi received a round of applause… The further you are from Schroeder, the closer you are to Anthony Rota, the [ex]-leader of the Canadian parliament who is a Nazi sympathizer,” Putin said. He then repeated the same message in German.

“There are a lot of decent people in Germany, and I’m sure that many will hear this,” he concluded.

Putin, who served as a KGB operative in Dresden early in his career, is fluent in German. 

The Russian leader’s comments relate to a recent controversy surrounding Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian-Canadian and a veteran of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS formed by Nazi Germany during WWII, who received a standing ovation in the Canadian parliament.

At the time, he was introduced by then House Speaker Anthony Rota as “a hero… who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians.” However, the incident sparked a fierce backlash not only in Moscow but also in a number of Western countries, most notably Poland which suffered greatly under Nazi Holocaust policies. Following the controversy, Rota was forced to resign.

Schroeder, who served as chancellor between 1998 and 2005, forged close ties with Putin during his tenure. After his chancellorship ended, the statesman joined the board of directors of the company operating the now-defunct Nord Stream gas pipelines connecting Germany and Russia.

The ex-chancellor’s ties to Russia have been widely criticized, leading to him being stripped of parliamentary privileges last year. Some German MPs have also suggested kicking him out of the Social Democratic Party, although without success.

In an interview with Berliner Zeitung released on Friday, Schroeder also claimed that while Kiev was open to making concessions to Russia early into the conflict, they did not agree to peace because Washington would not allow any compromises.