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"These are an offence to all Allied veterans and victims of World War II and encourage today's neo-Nazi activists and Skinhead youth."

Moscow, 18 May 2015

In a letter to the Russian Prosecutor-General, Mr. Yuri Yakovlev Chaika, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, condemned Neo-Nazi and antisemitic imagery on sale in Moscow hotel gift shops.

Samuels observed that "born in London, I have always acknowledged the role of the Red Army on the Eastern Front in preventing a Nazi invasion of Great Britain. Thereby, your people's sacrifice contributed to the survival of British Jews from destruction in the Holocaust – only 50 kilometers away on the European continent", adding, "I am presently in Moscow for an international conference on 'The Lessons of Victory in the Second World War/The Great Patriotic War -  Seventy Years Later'.”

The letter noted that, "together with colleagues from the Russian Holocaust Centre and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial of Israel, we were horrified to discover, an exhibition in a hotel gift-shop, -  a chess-set featuring the Red Army led by Joseph Stalin lined up with the Nazi Wehrmacht led by Adolf Hitler – placing them on an equal level."

The Centre highlighted that, "alongside this swastika-bedecked abomination lay the victory ribbon of Russian veterans and, behind it, a shelf of 'matryoshka' dolls of Orthodox Jewish figures displaying antisemitic stereotypes."

Samuels had learned that, "the Moscow region producer and distributor of these 'souvenirs' - indeed now prohibited by the Russian Federal law against Nazi imagery signed by President Putin this month – serves principally gift-shops in Moscow tourist hotels, reportedly Holiday Inn and Hilton chains. It is mainly tourists who may pay 27,000 roubles (USD 590,00) for such products."

The letter argued that, "these sales are an insult to every Allied veteran and victim of World War II and also to the Russian tradition of chess excellence."

The Centre urged that the Prosecutor-General "confiscate all such products in view of their offence to history and their encouragement to today's neo-Nazi activists and Skinhead youth."  

"Legal measures must also be take against the producers and distributors," concluded Samuels.