MEPs support R. Juknevičienė’s initiative to call for recognition of the Soviet mass repressions as a crime against humanity

More than 80 Members of European Parliament from various political groups have signed an appeal, initiated by MEP Rasa Juknevičienė, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the 80th anniversary of the Soviet deportations from the occupied Central and Eastern European countries. Among the signatories to the appeal are EP vice-president Roberta Metsola, the chair of the EPP group Manfred Weber and other members of European Parliament.

MEP R. Juknevičienė notes that this comprehensive document proposes to evaluate the historical events that took place in the former Soviet Union, as the international community has never morally and legally evaluated and condemned the mass deportations and the atrocities of Gulag system of the Soviets. 

One of the reasons behind Russia’s aggression is that it sees the past crimes of its leaders as glorious and glorifies them. As long as Russia does not evaluate its own history, it will continue to be so aggressive and will try to redraw the map of Europe, the MEP said.

The document, which reviews the Soviet mass repression on the territory of the former USSR, notes that the Soviet deportations, the entire Gulag system and the crimes of the communist regime in Europe must be condemned and remembered because they reflect the importance of the EU’s fundamental values and the position taken by the European Parliament in its resolutions that such crimes must not be allowed to happen again and must not be repeated.

The document also stresses that historical revisionism, revival of the Stalin cult and glorification of the Soviet regime are promoted by the Russian authorities; whereas historical disinformation is actively spread by the Russian government in the EU and its neighbourhood as well as within Russia to polarize the societies and to justify Russia’s aggression and territorial ambitions towards formerly Soviet-occupied territories.

This appeal recognises June 1941 deportations and other mass deportations ordered, planned and carried out by the Soviet regime, as well as the entire Gulag system, as crimes against humanity. The document establishes that the history of Soviet deportations and the victims of the Gulag is an integral part of the common European history. It expresses respect and sympathy for the victims and survivors of the Soviet Gulags and deportations, their families and relatives, as well as for the victims of communist regimes throughout Europe. 

The number of Gulag prisoners is estimated at between 15 and 18 million, of whom at least 1.5 million have perished. 

The document also notes that the Russian authorities have demanded the closure of the Memorial Centre for Human Rights and the International Memorial, which were founded 30 years ago by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, and which carried out historical research into mass deportations, the Gulags and other crimes of the Soviet regime, as well as human rights advocacy and ongoing support for Russian political prisoners. 

The appeal also calls for 27 May to be designated as the European Day of the Victims of the Gulag, as it is the date of the largest prisoner uprising in the Gorlag camp in Norilsk in 1953. 

The document stresses that the Russian Federation refuses to disclose the burial sites of victims of mass Soviet repressions and continues to deny access to the Soviet-era archives. 

It also condemns totalitarianism in all its forms and its crimes, and pays tribute to the victims of Nazi tyranny, in particular the victims of the Holocaust. 

EU Member States are also called to include the history and analysis of the totalitarian regimes of Nazism and Communism in school curricula, and recommends the inclusion of the history of Soviet deportations and the Gulags. 

Support is expressed for remembrance initiatives such as the memorial to the victims of totalitarian regimes proposed by the European Platform for Memory and Conscience in Brussels.

It also proposes the creation of a European Museum of the Victims of Communism, and a stronger reflection of the history of mass deportations and the Gulags in a permanent exhibition at the European History House. 

This document has been sent to the Presidents of the European Parliament, European Commission, European Council, the Slovenian Presidency of the EU, and the Permanent Representations of the EU Member States in Brussels.

The full text if the document:

MEP Resolution on Soviet Deportations




R. Juknevičienė: “Europe Must be Ready to Counter Disinformation and Prevent Distortion of Historical Facts”

On October 27, Rasa Juknevičienė, Member of the European Parliament (EP) and Coordinator of the European Remembrance Group, initiated a remote discussion with Vera Jurova (Czech Republic), Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency.

The two politicians discussed the resiliency of Europe to disinformation, especially distortion of historical facts for the purpose of misleading and pitting the European societies against one another. The politicians focused on the resolutions adopted by the Parliament and discussed the implementation of the measures foreseen in the resolution on the importance of European Remembrance for the future of Europe of September 19, 2019. According to the parliament member, distortion of historical facts should be assessed as a part of hybrid attacks and a threat to the common European values based on historical memory and solidarity. This discussion is closely related to the European Democracy Action Plan prepared by the European Commission and the Digital Services Act Package.

EC Vice President V. Jurova presented the framework of the upcoming European Democracy Action Plan and the Digital Services Act Package. She noted that some of the goals were to define the concept of disinformation, foresee certain measures for prevention of disinformation, and protect the election systems and independent mass media. She also encouraged all the EP members, civic-minded society, scholarly society and IT, specialist, to work together for the common goal. The Digital Services Act Package prepared by the EU will increase the possibilities to recognize terrorism, radical extremism and other illegal content and will ensure higher responsibility of social platforms for the published content. The EC are responsibly looking for the most suitable definitions to differentiate between disinformation and inaccurate information and outside influence.

According to R. Juknevičienė, Coordinator of the European Remembrance Group, history is often used by hostile non-democratic neighboring countries as a hybrid weapon to spread discord and increase tension among the EU member states. External forces use local operators, social networks and mass media to interfere with the lives of democratic countries. “We have to be vigilant and expectant of such challenges so that we can develop the proper measures to strengthen the immunity of Europe to such attacks,” said the EP Member. It was back in 2009 that the European Parliament first spoke of the necessity to strengthen the common European historical memory and adopted the resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism. The EP took the next step by adopting the resolution on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe on September 19, 2019. This EP resolution has been viewed in a very negative light by the Kremlin. The EP Member noted, “I am sure that EU member states would have experienced even more threats and disinformation attacks as revenge for the adoption of the said resolution, if not for the emergency situation due to Covid-19 pandemic which required focusing on its management.”

The EP resolution of 2019 gives specific offers for the member states and the Commission, e.g. to develop resilience of the European citizens to fraudulent information that distorts historical facts via society education by including analysis of totalitarian regimes into education programs. The resolution also offers to celebrate both August 23 as the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism and May 25 as the International Day of Heroes Who Fought against Totalitarian Regimes. May 25 would be associated with the day that Witold Pilecki, who volunteered to be embedded in Auschwitz concentration camp, was executed in communist Poland. The resolution proposes to support historical remembrance projects and to strengthen the Europe for Citizens program. The document highlights intolerance to propagation of hatred, violence and glorification of all totalitarian regimes in public spaces and social platforms. “A year has passed since the adoption of the resolution and we must now speak of the implementation of its proposals. The main question is how to jointly strengthen the resiliency of Europe to disinformation, which is a part of hybrid threats endangering our common values and European solidarity,” said the EP Member. V. Jurova, who has her own personal experiences of living under a totalitarian regime, keeps a strict policy of never interpreting historical facts as one might seem fit: be it the Second World War, the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact or the Holocaust.

The Vice President of the EC also confirmed that the financing of the historical remembrance projects has the backing of the EC in terms of the new EU budget. EP Members from various fractions took part in the discussion, to name a few: Lithuanian representatives Andrius Kubilius and Juozas Olekas, Sandra Kalnietė and Dace Melbarde from Latvia, Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz from Poland, and Parliament Members from Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary and Spain.


Virtual meeting “Meet Witold Pilecki: the Auschwitz Volunteer Who was Executed by Communists”

The virtual meeting “Meet Witold Pilecki: the Auschwitz Volunteer Who was Executed by Communists” is organised in the framework of the Informal Group of MEPs on European Remembrance, to commemorate the 25 May as a Day of Heroes of the Fight Against Totalitarianism. It will be co-hosted by MEPs Rasa Juknevičienė and Anna Fotyga.

A virtual meeting with Zofia OPTULOWICZ PILECKA and Andrzej PILECKI, followed by a discussion with prof. Grzegorz BERENDT, Museum of the Second World War, Poland and historian Simonas JAZAVITA, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania 

The European Parliament in its 19 September 2019 Resolution on the Importance of European Remembrance for the Future of Europe called to establish the 25th May – the day of the execution of the Auschwitz hero Rotamaster Witold Pilecki  by communists – The International Day of Heroes of the Fight Against Totalitarianism. 

The meeting will take place on 25 May, Monday, at 11.00 – 12.30 AM (CET – Brussels time), via Zoom (the link will be provided to registered participants before the event).

Working language of the conference is English. 

You can read more about the life of Witold Pilecki here: PILECKI INSTITUTE – Witold Pilecki and his mission to KL Auschwitz