- - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

In the midst of a Cold War redux, with the United States considering permanently stationing heavy weapons in the Baltics, and Russian aircraft threatening sovereign airspace and buzzing civilian airliners in the region, Moscow says the Russian-speaking people of the Baltics are being violated. The question on everyone’s mind is, does Moscow think they need protection?

According to Tass.ru, Russian human rights ombudsman Konstantin Dolgov said Tuesday that the human rights of Russian speakers in the Baltics were being violated. “We are stating that consistent activity toward violation of political, social-economic, and language rights of the Russian-speaking minority continues,” said the Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and supremacy of law, adding that the Russian-speaking minority was a sizable part of the population in the former Soviet republics.

The former Soviet territories and now NATO members of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have been particularly vocal about their unease with Russian intentions in the region. Russia used protection of the Russian-speaking population as justification for annexing the Crimean Peninsula. Recently, Lithuania announced that it would be sending lethal weapons to Ukraine to counter pro-Russian separatists advancing with Russian weapons in East Ukraine. This focus again on the Russian-speaking population in the Baltics could be a response. Today, Lithuania walked back the weapons announcement saying the ambassador had no authority to make such a statement.

The ombudsman also lashed out at Nazi propaganda in the region and attempts to rewrite history about World War II. “Supporters of Nazis, who participated in crimes against the humankind, can be seen walking about openly,” he said. “One can hear discourses at the highest level that people were forced into these SS divisions. This is not a serious excuse. Glorification of Nazism is inadmissible from the point of view of conscience and morale.”

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