Publication: Fortnight in Review Volume: 6 Issue: 13

Sergei Kovalev, one of the embattled handful of democratic deputies in Russia’s Duma, developed his views on Russia-Baltic relations at international conferences on June 12-14 in Vilnius and on June 15-16 in Tallinn. Kovalev, the closest disciple of the late Andrei Sakharov and former human rights commissioner of the Russian Federation, asserted that Russia’s current relations with the Baltic states are severely burdened by “the absence of a feeling of national remorse for the Soviet occupation. The Russian people bears a heavy responsibility before the Baltic peoples. The failure to atone represents an insuperable stumbling block to normal relations between Russia and the Baltic states. As long as we Russians, as a nation, do not recognize our culpability for occupying the Baltic states, for repressing their resistance movements, for deporting their peoples, we will not have defeated Soviet communism.”

That unresolved problem, moreover, is cause for “pessimism regarding Russia’s own course of political development,” Kovalev went on. “We are clearly and rapidly backsliding, with the active consent, alas, of a majority of our population. This is the main source of threat to all of us,” Kovalev told his Baltic audiences. He called on the Russian state and representatives of society publicly to atone for Soviet crimes against Balts, just as post-war democratic Germany has apologized for Nazi crimes against humanity.