President says Putin spreads historical lies over WWII - British daily

In an interview with UK daily The Financial Times on Wednesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda accused Russia's Vladimir Putin of spreading "historical lies" ahead of observances of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi-German death camp Auschwitz.

"The words of Vladimir Putin are a complete distortion of historical truth. We give it a very direct name, it is an ideology, it is a kind of post-Stalinist revisionism," Duda said.

The president added that some people say this is propaganda, hybrid warfare, while some experts claim Putin's words are used for internal propaganda. "For us, it doesn’t make a difference. For us, what matters is that this historical lie is being spread around the world. And we absolutely cannot accept this," Duda told the British daily.

Duda had earlier declined to attend the 5th World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem memorial event on the grounds that he was denied the opportunity to address the conference, planned on January 23 to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The Russian President is among those confirmed to speak at the ceremony.

The Polish president said that the refusal to allow him to speak was not because of any breach in Polish-Israeli relations, as the event in Yad Vashem was being arranged by a private organisation headed by Moshe Kantor, an oligarch with connections to the Russian government, rather than the Israeli state.

He added that, given Putin’s recent claims about World War II and accusations of Poland's complicity in the outbreak of the war and the Holocaust, a situation in which the Russian president would be able to speak, while he would not, was untenable.

The British daily wrote that the conflict over historical issues comes at a time of tense relations between the European Union and Russia, with ties strained by Moscow’s annexation in 2014 of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. The bloc subsequently imposed sanctions on Russia’s energy, finance and defence sectors.

However, Duda warned against any attempt to ease the EU’s sanctions against Russia, which, as well as annexing Crimea, fought a war with Georgia in 2008.

"We continue to advocate and demand that the territorial integrity of both Ukraine and Georgia be preserved. It is absolutely unacceptable that Russia is shifting borders in Europe by force in the 21st century," Duda said.

"We do not agree with policies that would lead to attempts at easing sanctions or lifting them and returning to business as usual with Russia. We believe that such behaviour will only embolden the aggressive behaviour of Russia, as the last 12 years have shown, starting with Russia’s attack on Georgia in 2008," the president noted.