Archive for the ‘News’ category

Parliamentarium Museum Will Add Content Illustrating Soviet Aggression

March 20, 2014

In response to a letter sent by MEPs Sandra Kalniete (Latvia), Doris Pack (Germany), Jacek Protasiewicz (Poland), Tunne Kelam (Estonia), Vytautas Landsbergis (Lithuania), and Monica Macovei (Romania) the Parliamentarium Museum will add content illustrating Soviet aggression.

In their letter sent on May 22nd 2013, MEPs expressed their concern that the museum of the European Parliament did not adequately address the role of the Soviet Union in starting World War Two and their perpetration of grave crimes against humanity. “While the Parlamentarium museum addresses the grave atrocities committed by the Nazi Regime and Nazi Germany’s role as aggressor in World War Two, we find it disheartening that similar acts committed by the Soviet Union and their role as ally of Nazi Germany and co-aggressor at the start of the war are not mentioned.”

After reviewing the content, the Directorate General for Communication of the Parliamentarium Unit has confirmed that the section addressing the history before the European Union will be revised. Currently consultation is taking place with museums dedicated to Soviet crimes in order to select the most appropriate images. As the content has been confirmed we will update this article.


The ban of totalitarian symbols is not considered necessary by the President of the EP

March 5, 2014

In December 2013, Transylvanian MEP László Tőkés, Hungarian MEP George Schöpflin, Latvian MEPs Sandra Klaniete and Inese Vaidere, Lithuanian MEPs Laima Liucija Andrikiené and Vytautas Landsbergis, as well as Slovenian MEP Milan Zver addressed a letter to the President of the European Parliament, in which they requested a ban of symbols of totalitarian regimes.

Referring to the epoch-making European Parliament Resolution of 2 April 2009 on European conscience and totalitarianism, the undersigning EPP Group Members reminded the Socialist President that “Europe will not be united unless it is able to form a common view of its history, recognizes Nazism, Stalinism and Fascist and Communist regimes as a common legacy and brings about an honest and thorough debate on their crimes in the past century.” Further, they draw the attention of Martin Schulz to the fact that while the usage, denial and/or disparagement of totalitarian symbols is prohibited and considered a criminal offense in some Member States, these virulent phenomena occur on a daily basis in other Member States.

“We turn to you, Mr. President with the respectful request that you ban the use of symbols of dictatorships inside the European Parliament and all its public premises, in particular the swastika, red star as well as the hammer and sickle. We similarly recommend that the European Parliament make a proposal on the ban of dictatorial symbols in all EU member states. It is our firm conviction that it would be truly worthy of the EU’s spirit and image, as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize,” concluded the letter.

“As you surely are aware the European Parliament has been throughout its existence an undeniable pillar of freedom, democracy, non-discrimination and rule of law in Europe and indeed at a global level and has never hesitated to reaffirm the values it stands for,” replied The President on 14 February 2014, however he did not consider the ban of genocidal totalitarian symbols necessary. Nevertheless, a general ban of totalitarian symbols would have had a strong message to the European people who had suffered under the brutality of both rightist and leftist dictatorships.

Diplomatically avoiding the request itself, President Schulz cited the Rules governing cultural events and exhibitions on Parliament’s premises, stating that “these rules are, and will be in the future, an effective tool to avoid any undue displays of potentially disturbing images or symbols within the European Parliament.”

On 25 February, the Memorial Day for the Victims of Communism, Transylvanian MEP Tőkés said that 25 years after the fall of soviet-communist dictatorships double standards still prevail in the European Union, and the silent toleration of communist symbols continues violating the memory of millions of victims.  

Strasbourg, 25 February 2014

Former Communist prison commander charged with genocide denies charges, says he has no regrets

January 29, 2014

Source: January 14, 2014, Associated Press

A man charged with genocide for the deaths of political prisoners at a lockup he commanded when Romania was a Communist country pleaded innocent on Tuesday.

Alexandru Visinescu, 87, is accused of responsibility for the deaths of six inmates at the Ramnicu Sarat prison from 1956 to 1963. Prosecutors said prisoners there were routinely subjected to beatings, hunger, insufficient medical treatment, and exposure to the cold.

No date has been set for Visinescu’s trial.

During a closed hearing Tuesday, he denied the charge.

Afterward, reporters asked the defendant whether he had any regrets, and Visinescu replied: “No way.”

About 500,000 Romanians were condemned as political prisoners in the 1950s as the nation’s Communist government sought to crush all dissent. Prosecutors say Visinescu participated in efforts to wipe them out. One-fifth of these prisoners died in custody, historians have said.

In October, Ion Ficior was charged with genocide for his alleged roles in the deaths of 103 political prisoners when he served as deputy commander, then commander, of the Periprava labor camp in 1958-1963.

Prosecutors say he “introduced and coordinated a repressive detention regime, which was abusive and inhuman” against political prisoners.

Both cases were brought to light by a Romanian government institute that investigates Communist-era crimes.

About 3,500 former Romanian political prisoners from the 1950s and 1960s are still alive. That is far below the 40,000 who were alive when Communism was overthrown in Romania in 1989.

Link to original

Members of the REH group, in the European Parliament, welcomed the decision to dismantle symbols of totalitarianism in Georgia

January 29, 2014

Chair of the Reconciliation of European Histories group (REH), MEP Sandra Kalniete, in a letter to the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament expresses satisfaction with the amendment to the Liberty Charter, adopted by the Georgian Parliament on December the 25th. The new amendment is aimed at actual enforcement of measures to prevent public displays of symbols of totalitarian regimes. This act should effectively stop the construction of monuments dedicated to Joseph Stalin, started last year.

Last year, on behalf of the REH group, Ms. Kalniete turned to senior officials in the Georgian government, expressing outrage at the fact that Georgia had approved plans to erect monuments in honour of the murderous leader of the Soviet Union. In addition, steps were taken for the European Parliament to formally condemning such behaviour. With the recent decision, Ms. Kalniete feels satisfaction that the work of the REH group may have contributed to the Georgian Parliament’s decision.

After Georgia’s decision to amend the law, MEPs were pleased to learn that the Stalin monument recently built in the city of Telavi was immediately removed. The law now provides real penalties for the glorification of communist and fascist regimes and facilitates the creation of a panel to identify and prevent such violations.

In the letter sent to the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Ms. Kalniete expressing support for the parliamentary decision and emphasised that this decision corresponds with European values and will help strengthen the already strong relationship between the EU and Georgia.

 Link to an article on the Georgian decision



Platform will seek establishment of a supranational court for international crimes committed by Communists

June 7, 2012

Source: The Platform of European Memory and Conscience
Prague/Brussels, 7 June 2012.

The Platform of European Memory and Conscience is calling for the creation of a supranational judicial body for the gravest crimes committed by the Communist dictatorships. The call was announced at the conclusion of the international conference “Legal Settlement of Communist Crimes“ held on 5 June, 2012 in the European Parliament in Brussels under the auspices of a number of Members of the European Parliament, including its two former Presidents, Mr Jerzy Buzek and Mr HansGert Pöttering. (more…)

Bulgarian documentary “Goryani” (2011) reveals Bulgarians’ resistance against communism

February 8, 2012







At the end of 2011 Andrey Kovatchev, Vice-chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament and Member of the Reconciliation of European Histories Group, supported the distribution of the Bulgarian documentary “Goryani” (“mountain dwellers” in Eng.) directed by Mr Atanas Kirjakov. 

“Goryani” is devoted to one of the most traumatic, but also most remarkable moments of the new Bulgarian history – the resistance movement of the Goryani against the communist rule in the period between 1944 and 1956. The film is based on authentic archival and documental evidence, as well as the memories of living members of the movement and their successors. The film was first presented on 27 September 2011 and it was greeted with huge interest by the Bulgarian civil society. (more…)

Spain’s Franco-era probe judge Baltasar Garzon on trial

January 30, 2012
BBC News, 24 January 2012

A high-profile Spanish judge has gone on trial accused of violating a 1977 amnesty law by investigating civil war and Franco-era crimes.

Baltasar Garzon is accused by two right-wing groups of overstepping his powers by trying to prosecute crimes committed between 1936 and 1975.

The case has reignited the debate about the way Spain has dealt with its past. (more…)

Bulgaria condemns communist Turkish assimilation

January 25, 2012






The Daily News, January 11 2012

Bulgaria’s parliament adopted on Wednesday a special declaration condemning the forcible assimilation of the country’s sizeable Turkish minority under communism.
The declaration specifically centred on the so-called “revival process” in the mid-1980s when Bulgaria’s ethnic Turks were forced to change their Muslim names to Bulgarian ones.

Germans visit HQ of ex-Stasi boss Mielke

January 24, 2012









BBC World News, 16 January 2012

The heart of the former East German police state – the office of Stasi chief Erich Mielke – has been opened to the public in Berlin.

The original plush furnishings have been restored at “Haus 1” – the former communist secret police headquarters, which is now a museum.

Before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 about 8,000 Stasi agents worked there, isolated from ordinary citizens.

Twenty-two years ago protesters stormed the HQ and saved many secret files. (more…)

Spain commission seeks removal of Gen Franco’s remains

November 29, 2011

BBC World News, 29 November 2011

A commission set up by the Spanish government has recommended that the remains of General Francisco Franco should be exhumed.

The dictator’s tomb is inside a Catholic basilica, at a politically divisive civil war memorial.

The site, near Madrid, has been a rallying point for the far right.

The commission said the remains of Gen Franco – who ruled between 1936 and his death in 1975 – should be handed over to his family for reburial. (more…)

Platform of European Memory and Conscience to be established in Prague on 13-14 October, 2011 as a parallel event of the summit of the Prime ministers

September 28, 2011

Heads of 19 partner institutions and organisations specialised in the subject of totalitarian history from 13 EU
member states will sign the founding document of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience in Prague on 14 October, 2011. The ceremony, which will take place in the presence of Prime minister Petr Nečas and Vice-President of the European Parliament László Tökés, is an accompanying event of the summitof the Prime ministers of the Visegrad group.   (more…)

General Court of the EU: The Soviet coat of arms may not be registered as a Community trade mark

September 26, 2011

On 20 September 2011, the General Court of the European Union has ruled in case Case T‑232/10, Couture Tech Ltd vs. Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (OHIM), that the Soviet coat of arms may not be registered as a Community trade mark. In this precident it was decided that “its registration as a Community trade mark must be refused even if it is contrary to public policy and to accepted principles of morality in only one Member State.”

Press Release:


Members of the European Parliament ask that a Statue of Lenin be Removed

January 27, 2011

January 27th 2011, Members of the European Parliament (EP) have sent a letter to the Regional Council responsible for the French city of Montpellier, in which they request that a statue of Lenin is taken down and that a statue of the founder of China’s communist party, Mao Zedong, is not built. Sixty-eight MEPs, from 18 Member States, signed the letter drafted by Sandra Kalniete, Member of European Parliament (MEP) and chair of the Reconciliation of European Histories group in the EP. The letter was also signed by the Vice President of the EP, László Tőkés, and the former President of the EP, Hans-Gert Pöttering. (more…)

Commemoration of the 70 year anniversary of the occupation of the Baltic’s takes place in the European Parliament

June 16, 2010

Strasbourg, 15th of June 2010 – Members of the European Parliament gathered by the memorial plaque, honoring those deported from the Baltic nations, to commemorate the 70 year anniversary of the occupation of the Baltic nations. In order to prevent such historical mistakes from reoccurring, many MEPs continue to remind the world of the horrors committed by the Stalinist regime. (more…)

A pivotal judgment of the ECHR: “No impunity for perpetrators of war crimes,” Sandra Kalniete MEP

May 18, 2010

Press release
Strasbourg, 18 May 2010 

Yesterday, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg upheld the war crimes conviction of a “Red Partisan” who was found guilty of ordering the killing of civilians while fighting for Soviet forces in Nazi-occupied Latvia in 1944. (more…)

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has said the Soviet Union was “totalitarian”

May 7, 2010

Baltics welcome Medvedev concession
The Baltic Times, Oskars Magone, May 07, 2010

MOSCOW — Leaders from the Baltic States have welcomed statements from Russian President Dmitri Medvedev concerning the alleged crimes of the Soviet Union.

A major bone of contention in diplomatic relations between the Baltic States and Russia lies in crimes committed by the Soviet Union. (more…)

Russia posts Katyn massacre documents on the Internet

April 29, 2010

The Russian Archives have posted documents which shed light on the Soviet Union’s World War II massacre of more than 20,000 Polish officers and other prominent citizens. The Soviet Union had blamed the massacres on Nazi forces who invaded in 1941. This explanation had remained the official state position until Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged Soviet responsibility in 1990. The current Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, has promised that more similar documents would also be released. The documents are available on the following site: (In Russian)

Also see:  Excerpts: Beria letter to Stalin on Katyn (From BBC news in English)