The Czech Republic’s Jewish community has expressed anger over the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin to a Czech Holocaust commemoration ceremony next month in Prague that will mark the 70th anniversary of the Red Army’s liberation of Auschwitz.
Czech Jewish leaders oppose the invitation because of their opposition to Russia’s actions in neighboring Ukraine, notably Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March and its continuing support of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
“The regime Putin established and embodies doesn’t respect international treaties, is aggressive and uses its power to occupy the territory of a neighboring state,” the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic said in a statement, according to Bloomberg News.
“I hope that [Putin] will not come, but this is only my personal hope,” said Czech Chief Rabbi Karol Sidon, the Prague Post reported.
Yet the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, told The Jerusalem Post that ironically, “On the one hand you have Russia acting like Nazi Germany in the 1930s and seizing territory; on the other hand they are the ones who are fighting for the accuracy of the historical record of World War II and the Holocaust.”