Moscow to Take Fight for WWII Veteran to European Human Rights Court

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) – Moscow has qualified the verdict passed in Latvia on the former Red guerrilla Vassily Kononov as "shameful". "The Latvian Justice must have decided to celebrate the country’s admission to the European Union and the anniversary of the end of the second world war with a gift to local nationalists and radicals, that is with insulting in public those who fought against Nazism," says a commentary published on the Russian foreign ministry’s official site.

"And the fact that Kononov was set free just in courtroom because he had already served his sentence of one year and eight months does not change anything in this shameful verdict," says the Russian foreign ministry.

The Supreme Court of Latvia has found the Russian citizen Kononov, a former Red guerrilla, "guilty of wartime crimes", thus canceling the re-qualification of the indictment made in October 2003 by the previous court, when the afore-mentioned charge was replaced by "banditry".

"Naturally, the former verdict was also absurd and humiliating to a veteran soldier who was prosecuted for killing Lettish collaborators with Nazis in 1944," continues the foreign ministry. ‘But the court was then compelled to admit that the accusations of "wartime crimes" against Kononov were groundless." "We are confident that the actions of those who persectited Kononov and kept him for months behind bars on framed-up charges contradicting the fundamental principles of international law will get a fitting estimation," says the document.

Andrey Kokoshin, the chairman of the State Duma compatriots liaison committee, has referred to the Latvian court’s verdict to the former Soviet guerrilla as a political act.

In his opinion, "the Latvian judicial authorities are preoccupied with the only purpose of substantiating their measures to deprive almost 35 percent of the Latvian population of their rights." "This decision is regarded by Russian MPs as an outright violation of the norms of international law," said the Duma committee head, commenting on the Latvian Prosecutor-General’s Office references to the Nuremberg tribunal’s norms as "fully absurd and blasphemous." Kokoshin said that the former Soviet guerrilla and fighter against Nazi occupants, the Russian citizen Vassily Kononov, would receive from Russia legal, material and medical aid as well as assistance in his appeal to the European Human Rights Court.