Vladimir Putin: Did you also extend New Year's greetings to Shlomo Morel?
Letter 29          04 January 2005

Kremlin killer Vassily Kononov
"You have defended not only your honest name, but historical justice and the honor of your fighting comrades.  From my soul I greet you and your loved ones on the coming New Year." Vladimir Putin addressing convicted murderer Vassily Kononov

             04 January 2005

Vladimir Putin, President
4 Staraya Square
Moscow 103132

Vladimir Putin:

I call to your attention the following report of your New Year's greeting to Vassily Kononov, convicted of ordering the killing during WW II of nine civilians, among whom was a pregnant woman:

Saturday, 01-Jan-2005 Last updated 6:06 a.m. PT

Putin sends greeting to war crimes convict


Kremlin killer Vassily Kononov

MOSCOW Russian President Vladimir Putin issued New Year's greetings Saturday to a former pro-Soviet partisan convicted in Latvia of killing civilians during World War II.

Vassily Kononov, 80, was convicted last year of war crimes for ordering the killing of nine civilians, including a pregnant woman, in 1944 when Latvia was occupied by Nazi troops.  He was a leader of a small band of partisans fighting the Nazis.

Kononov was sentenced to 20 months' imprisonment, but was freed because he had served that much time in pretrial detention.

Many Russians consider Kononov a legitimate war hero and Moscow criticized the trial as a witch-hunt targeting an ailing, elderly man.  Russian-Latvian relations have been tense since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, with Russia expressing strong resentment of Latvia's efforts to spread use of the Latvian language and limit Russian, the mother tongue of about a third of Latvia's people.

"You have defended not only your honest name, but historical justice and the honor of your fighting comrades," Putin said in the greetings statement released by the Kremlin.  "From my soul I greet you and your loved ones on the coming New Year."

Seattle Post-Intelligencer seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/apeurope_story.asp?category=1103&slug=Russia%20Latvia   Image with caption added.

It would be of interest to the vast population on the fringes of the Russian-speaking world, which is forced to contemplate the possibility of either continued or reimposed Kremlin rule, to learn whether you sent similarly warm New Year's greetings to the ten other Kremlin agents that Latvia has convicted of war crimes, or to the 150 other Kremlin agents that Latvia plans to prosecute for war crimes.  Also of interest to this vast and anxious fringe population would be your explanation of why Kononov, having served his wrist-slap of a sentence and being today free, does not take advantage of the Russian citizenship which the Kremlin has awarded him by moving to Russia, but instead prefers to continue living in Latvia, and prefers there to endure the deprivation of rights which the Kremlin claims that Baltic states inflict on their Russian minorities.  The anxious peoples concerned with Kremlin rule might also be interested to learn whether your warm greetings to a man convicted of murdering Latvians was calculated to intimidate Latvians with the specter of unrepentent Chekists in the Kremlin hoping to continue their historic role of ruling through homicide.

And the anxious populations threatened with Kremlin rule might be interested also in learning whether you similarly extended New Year's greetings to Shlomo (Solomon) Morel who is more deserving of your warm wishes than is Kononov because Morel's dedication to implementing Kremlin policy was much stronger than Kononov's.

Poland hunts Jew, 86, over 'revenge' killing of Nazis

BY Inigo Gilmore in Jerusalem and Michael Leidig
(Filed: 02-Jan-2005)

Kremlin killer Shlomo (Solomon) Morel

Poland is demanding the extradition from Israel of an elderly Jewish man accused of the deaths of hundreds of Germans in a post-war detention camp.

Solomon Morel, 86, faces charges of "crimes against humanity" in relation to more than 1,500 inmates at a camp in southern Poland, many of whom perished in "barbaric" circumstances.

The investigation is the first in Poland into a Jew accused of retaliating against the Germans, and poses potentially awkward questions for Israel about its attitude towards those allegedly involved in revenge killings.  Israeli officials turned down a previous extradition request six years ago when there were suspicions that the case was politically motivated.

Mr Morel, who fled to Israel from Poland in 1994 and lives in hiding in Tel Aviv, was held in Auschwitz as a young man.  More than 30 members of his family were wiped out by the Nazis.

In November 1945, after the Soviet occupation of Poland began, he was one of many Jews appointed by Stalin to supervise the brutal "de-Nazification" camps, where up to 80,000 ethnic Germans are believed to have died as a result of torture, starvation and typhus.

Stalin deliberately picked Jews as camp commandants in the knowledge that they would show little mercy to the inmates.

According to John Sack, the late author of An Eye for An Eye: The Untold Story of Jewish Revenge Against Germans in 1945, Morel made his desire for revenge clear from the first day the camp at Swietochlowice opened.

In a television interview before his death earlier this year, Mr Sack said: "On the first night at Swietochlowice, when the first contingent of Germans arrived, at about 10 o'clock at night he walked into one of the barracks and he said to the Germans, 'My name is Morel. I am a Jew.  My mother and father, my family, I think they're all dead, and I swore that if I got out alive, I was going to get back at you Nazis.  And now you're going to pay for what you did.' "

In his book, Mr Sack, himself a Jew, describes in detail the alleged atrocities committed at the camp: "The guards put the Germans into a doghouse, beating them if they didn't say `bow-wow'.  They got the Germans to beat each other; to jump on each other's spines and to punch each other's noses, and hit the Germans so hard that they once knocked a German's glass eye out."

Guards also raped German women and trained dogs to bite off German men's genitals on command, he said.

Mr Morel is thought to have changed his name, although his whereabouts are understood to be known to the Israeli authorities.

A request for his extradition by Poland in 1998 was rejected by Israel on the grounds that the statute of limitations on the charges had run out.

Prosecutors claim to have built up a stronger case, based on fresh testimony from survivors in Poland and Germany, and have upgraded the charges to crimes against humanity, on which there is no time limit.

The Polish public prosecutor leading the case, Eva Kok, insisted that even though Mr Morel was a frail, elderly man, the claims could not be "swept under the carpet".  She added: "The Israelis are extremely efficient in pursuing people they have accused of such crimes and they must accept that other nations want to do the same."

Ms Kok insisted that suggestions that the case was politically motivated were an insult.  "The prosecutors are not motivated by politics and operate in the interests of the law regardless of who is in power," she said.

The Israeli Justice Ministry said it was "in the process of examining" the extradition request.

The Telegraph www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;sessionid=HJVRSJNCAFNVVQFIQMGSM5WAVCBQWJVC?xml=/news/2005/01/02/wpole02.xml&secureRefresh=true&_requestid=72190   Image with caption added.

Perhaps, too, you would assist the public in reaching an accurate historical appreciation of Kremlin conduct toward German prisoners following WW II by opening Kremlin files so as to permit verification of allegations that Shlomo Morel had never been in Auschwitz and had never lost 30 members of his family to the Nazis, but rather had passed the war years as a member of a Lublin partisan group that found less advantage in combatting Nazis than in robbing, raping, and murdering Poles.

From the Ukrainian point of view, the moral to be extracted from the above is that the Kremlin has historically ruled by homicide, and that it today recoils from repenting its crimes, and chooses instead to conceal or justify them.  In consequence, rather than winning the friendship of its neighbors, it arouses their indignation.  The impression that your New Year's greeting to Vassily Kononov projects is that of the Kremlin justifying the past crimes which imperial conquest required in anticipation of needing to justify the future crimes which continuing imperial conquest will require.

Lubomyr Prytulak