Attempts to Review War Results Are
Doomed to Failure – Putin

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) – Vladimir Putin thanked for New Year greetings Vasily Kononov, a veteran of the Great Patriotic War against German Nazism (1941-45), residing in the Latvian Republic.

The presidential press-service reported that the Russian head of state writes in particular: "2005 is a special year: we will be marking the 60th anniversary of the Great Victory. The victory over Nazism was won at the price of millions of lives, by courage and heroism of the generation of front-line fighters. This feat will for ever remain in the memory of grateful mankind, and no one has the right to blacken or denigrate it. It is my belief that all attempts to review the results of the Second World War, exonerate the real criminals, and slander the victorious heroes are doomed to failure.

"You staunchly defend not only your honest name, but also historical justice, the honour of combat comrades. In your courageous and righteous struggle you will be further given all the necessary help.

"I wholeheartedly wish you and your near ones a happy New Year. I wish you good health, successes, prosperity and all the best."

The 80-year-old Kononov, born in Latvia, was arrested in 1998 and was under custody until 2000, when a court sentenced him to eighteen-month imprisonment. Right after the declaration of the sentence, Kononov was released, because he had served the required time. On the same day, a decree by the Russian president granted him Russian citizenship. But he did not go to Russia, remaining in his homeland – Latvia.

The Latvian authorities accuse Kononov of conducting a guerilla operation in 1944 in the village of Maliye Baty to destroy nine Polizei, accomplices of Hitlerites. Kononov asserted that because of them the Hitlerites had destroyed a guerilla group.

In 2001, the former anti-fascist partisan was found by Latvian authorities guilty of committing war crimes and sentenced to six years of prison. Kononov appealed the sentence, and the case was sent for additional investigation to the Prosecutor-General’s Office. Kononov was released for health reasons.

In 2003, the "Kononov case" was examined at the Latgalian district court. It recategorised the charge as banditry and found the former partisan guilty, but freed him from punishment in view of the expiration of the period of limitation.

This ruling was appealed by the prosecutor, and in May 2004 the case by way of appeal was considered by the Supreme Court of Latvia, which found Kononov guilty of war crimes and sentenced him to a prison term of one year and eight months.

Vladimir Putin Delivered His New Year’s
Address to the Citizens of Russia

MOSCOW, January 1 (RIA Novosti) — Vladimir Putin delivered his new year’s address to the citizens of the country. Follows the full text of the address of the head of the state:

Dear citizens of Russia,

Dear friends,

In a few minutes, the Kremlin chimes will herald the beginning of the New Year, 2005. And the outgoing year will become part of Russian history. No doubt, the fate of every one of us was reflected in it, as were the achievements of the entire Russian nation. New projects and approaches to solving pressing tasks of the state emerged.

We took serious steps to make the authorities more effective, more open to society and more accountable to it. The economic and defence potential was strengthened, and the country’s capabilities increased. We are now investing more in education and science. Programmes have been drawn up to construct affordable housing, and improve the quality of health care. All our priorities are focused on people’s intellectual and spiritual development. The main task, the principal internal force of Russia’s development is to realise each person’s capabilities and improve the life of the nation.

I have to say that the outgoing year also witnessed dramatic events in the life of our nation. Even today, on New Year’s night, we must remember this.

The coming year 2005 is a special one for us – it is the year of the 60th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War. It is a great holiday for us. For all people with whom we are linked by a common fate, I would say, by historical kinship.

Dear friends,

Starting in the New Year, 2005, we revert to an old Russian tradition – a tradition of long New Year’s holidays. Let them be radiant and memorable. Let them be filled with heartfelt warmth and cordiality.

On New Year’s night we always try to be with our near and dear ones. We are particularly attentive to our parents, readily share our joy with friends and wish happiness to our children. And, of course, we think about the future.

And whatever personal plans we may conceive, each of us knows that they are directly connected with the welfare and successes of our Russia.

May your homes be filled with the festive spirit!

I wish you happiness, peace, kindness and love!

Happy New Year, dear friends!

Happy 2005!