13 Feb 2014

Apology wanted for comparison of Sochi with Berlin Games

6:10 am on 13 February 2014

Allies of President Vladimir Putin are seeking an apology from a Russian satirist who drew a comparison between the Sochi Winter Olympics and the 1936 Berlin Games Adolf Hitler used to offer a rosy picture of Nazi Germany.

The comparison by writer Viktor Shenderovich has upset the ruling United Russia party, which sees it as an insult to those who fought Nazi Germany and an attempt to undermine Russia over the Games.

The 1936 Berlin Olympics took place against a sinister backdrop in which homosexuals, Jews, Communists, Roma and other groups openly hounded and villified by the Nazis, were being sent to concentration camps.

The head of United Russia's faction in the State Duma, Vladimir Vasilyev, called for an apology during a session of the lower house of parliament on Tuesday.

"Society does not forgive insults to veterans and to those who cannot stand up for themselves," he said, referring to some 27 million Soviet citizens killed in World War II.

Svetlana Zhurova, a United Russia lawmaker and former Olympic champion speedskater, said Shenderovich's blog "fits into the campaign against the Olympics that has unfolded in the Western media."

The aim was "to take away our country's celebration", she was quoted as saying on the party's website on Wednesday.

A presidential spokesman declined comment. Mr Putin said this week foreign criticism of the Sochi Games had echoes of Cold War rhetoric.

Many Russians see victory in World War II as their country's proudest moment in the 20th century and any comparison with Nazi Germany is sure to cause outrage.