Washington, DC (JBANC) — The United States Senate has passed a non-binding concurrent resolution on May 19 asking that the Russian Federation issue a clear and unambiguous statement admitting and condemning the illegal occupation and annexation from 1940 to 1991 of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Expressing the position of Congress, the legislation was first introduced on May 12. Reintroduced on May 19 as Senate Concurrent Resolution 35 by Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus co-chairman Gordon Smith (R-OR), it was co-sponsored by Democratic Senators Richard Durbin of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein of California. Senator Durbin, Assistant Minority Leader, is the other Baltic Freedom Caucus co-chairman.
The companion legislation, House Concurrent Resolution 128, was referred to the House International Relations Committee after being introduced on April 12 by House Baltic Caucus co-chairman John Shimkus (R-IL). H. Con. Res. 128 already has 19 co-sponsors. A vote is expected this summer.
For additional information on the resolution click BAFL ACTION and Call to Action.
The importance of such action was made clear by the visit of President Bush two weeks ago to Latvia and the Russian Federation. In Riga, President Bush emphasized the importance of making amends regarding past misdeeds, even evoking the memory of an unjust Yalta agreement. He also stated that the “captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe [by the Soviet Union] will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history.”
President Bush’s Riga speech:http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/05/print/20050507-8.html
The May 9 Moscow commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe brought the matter to the international news forefront. There was a great surge in media interest over this legacy.
The Russian Federation, however, has never wavered from the official Soviet view that the Baltics voluntarily joined the USSR. This selective memory has been evident again this month in the words of the Russian leadership and in much of the Russian media.
Following the August 23, 1939 inking of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (MRP) between the Stalin’s USSR and Hitler’s Germany, Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The Soviet Union reciprocated by invading Poland from the east on September 17. Moscow then forced the neutral Baltic governments to cede bases, and on November 30, 1939, the USSR invaded Finland, to begin the four-month Winter War. The Baltic countries were occupied by force in July 1940 and then, following sham elections, were annexed in August that year. The U.S. issued a statement on July 23, 1940 not recognizing this “devious” takeover.
Support for a Russian condemnation of the MRP was also given by the six-member U.S. congressional delegation that recently visited Lithuania. The delegation included Congressmen Jack Kingston (R-GA), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Tim Holden (D-PA), David Scott (D-GA), Clay Shaw (R-FL), and Bill Shuster (R-PA).