MEP Jaak Madison (EKRE) abstained from voting on a resolution at the European Parliament which stressed remembrance of past European events, in particular the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of August 1939, which divided much of Central and Eastern Europe between Nazi German and Soviet Russian spheres of influence, according to academic and writer Anton Shekhovtsov.
Writing on his blog, Shekhovtsov said that while a right-wing/national conservative group at the European Parliament, Identity and Democracy (ID), opted to vote in favor of the resolution, dated Sept. 18, this move was by no means unanimous, with 16 MEPs from the bloc's 73 members abstaining, including Madison, as well as representatives of German party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and Perussuomalaiset (Finland); a total of five MEPs from nations which had experienced Soviet or Warsaw Pact occupation abstained, Shekhovtsov said.
Shekhovtsov claimed in his piece that the majority of ID's MEPs are "friendly towards [Vladimir] Putin's regime," noting that French Rassemblement National (formerly Front National) MEP Gilles Lebreton warned against conflating present-day Russia with the Soviet Union.
Shekhovtsov also speculated on what Madison's motivations might be for abstaining.
A total of 535 MEPs voted in favor of the resolution, entitled "on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe", with 66 voting against and a total of 53 abstentions, including MEPs from the left-wing European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL) bloc as well as the 16 ID abstainees, Shekhovtsov said.
Article 10 of the resolution says: " Calls for a common culture of remembrance that rejects the crimes of fascist, Stalinist, and other totalitarian and authoritarian regimes of the past as a way of fostering resilience against modern threats to democracy, particularly among the younger generation; encourages the Member States to promote education through mainstream culture on the diversity of our society and on our common history, including education on the atrocities of World War II, such as the Holocaust, and the systematic dehumanisation of its victims over a number of years;"
Article 16 states that: "[the European Parliament] Is deeply concerned about the efforts of the current Russian leadership to distort historical facts and whitewash crimes committed by the Soviet totalitarian regime and considers them a dangerous component of the information war waged against democratic Europe that aims to divide Europe, and therefore calls on the Commission to decisively counteract these efforts;"
The resolution's preamble referenced the annexation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the 1983 Baltic Appeal and the 1989 Baltic Chain, which marked the 50th anniversary of the pact's signing.
Full text of the resolution is here.
Anton Shekhovtsov is external Lecturer at the University of Vienna, Associate Research Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, expert at the European Platform for Democratic Elections. He has written several books on the rise of the new right and its links with Russia. He also participated in the 2019 Lennart Meri conference in Tallinn earlier this year.
Editor: Andrew Whyte