President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
This meeting precedes International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, the Heroes of the Resistance, and our country’s position on this is well known. The majority of Jews killed by the Nazis were Soviet citizens, and we share this pain.
You are aware of our current position too. We are strongly against consigning crimes of this kind to oblivion, since crimes like this have no statute of limitations. We hold this policy to make sure that nothing like this ever happens to humankind again.
I am aware of the position of the Jewish community of Russia and the position of the State of Israel regarding the role and importance of the Red Army in defeating Nazism and fascism. We highly appreciate this, but to reiterate, this matter is of particular importance for our people.
You are also aware that the investigating authorities and the Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation continue to deploy serious efforts trying to identify crimes of this type committed against any citizens of the former Soviet Union, regardless of their ethnic origin. Without a doubt, this work is a major contribution to the efforts seeking to bring to light the crimes committed by the Nazis against the Jews as well.
We know that Jewish organisations around the world are supportive of the work we are doing. We are doing our best to ensure that our efforts are supported at the international level as well. Unfortunately, many countries use various pretexts to avoid participating in joint efforts in this important area. We will continue to pursue this work regardless of the ongoing political developments.
I am aware that you are holding an event tomorrow, or rather a string of events associated with this date, so please convey my best wishes to the participants of tomorrow’s programme.
Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar: Thank you very much, thank you for your words.
Indeed, the Holocaust and all the developments of World War II are tragic events for us. I know this firsthand, since my family, my father miraculously survived the Holocaust. They managed to leave on the last ship. My mother survived the Holocaust because some good people hid her during the war.
So, the suffering from the Holocaust – so many Jews suffered at that time and 6 million innocent people died – this suffering remains terrible to us to this day. Every year, when we remember these events, we always say: never again. Tomorrow also marks the anniversary of the lifting of the Siege of Leningrad. It is also a time when we remember the suffering during the siege. A situation where innocent people suffer only because someone attacks them is terrible, inexplicable and unsupportable.
So, thank you very much for everything you have done and are doing today. Moreover, Jews feel very comfortable living in Russia today, and thank God for what is actually happening in our country today.
In this regard, we keep saying that we are ready to do our best to find peaceful solutions. Because a situation where people suffer is bad for everyone; everyone suffers when they see others around them suffering. All of us understand that we are children of one God, and we want all his children to live in brotherhood, mutual understanding and friendship and truly respect each other. When people suffer, it is because someone is not letting them live a calm everyday life. The Talmud says that a person who saved the life of one human being saved the whole world, and we value every life.
To reiterate, we as a Jewish community, I believe, not only in Russia, but all over the world, are ready to do everything to find peaceful solutions, so people can really… maybe our people understand more than anyone else what suffering is, so we are ready to do everything we can to promote peace around the world, and have people live a good life.
Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you.