Baltic countries, Ukraine and Georgia have lashed out at retail giant Amazon for selling online T-shirts and other products with Soviet Union emblems on them, and demanded that the goods be removed. Millions of internet users are protesting with putting #WhyNotSwastika on Amazon facebook page.
In May, German sports gear maker Adidas agreed to remove a red tank top with the letters USSR and emblems of the Soviet Union from its online store. The item was being sold ahead of the soccer World Cup in Russia.
Walmart has agreed to remove shirts with Soviet emblems from its online shop after three Baltic countries complained about the clothing, Lithuanian authorities said Tuesday.
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were forcibly annexed by Moscow in 1940 and remained part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991, except for a brief occupation by Nazi Germany 1941-1944.
Lithuania has been taking a particularly hard line against its communist-era legacy, banning all Soviet symbols as well as Nazi ones.
Every year on 30 October, countries of the former Soviet Union remember the victims of political repression and persecution who fell prey to Stalin’s Great Purge during 1937 and 1938.
Who were the victims
According to documented evidence, a conservatively estimated 13 million people were shot, sent to exile in camps and deprived of their civil rights during the Great Purge in the Soviet Union.
The political repression and persecution in Soviet Armenia began in the 1920s.
Religious figures were persecuted with renewed force in the 1930s, and 89 faced execution.
In 1937 alone, 4,951 people were persecuted in Armenia, of whom 3,140 were shot. In 1938, over 3,153 people were persecuted.
Starting in 1930 and continuing for eight years, 14,904 Armenians were persecuted, of whom 4,639 were executed.
This figure is particularly significant if taken into account that in 1939 Armenia only had a population of 1.3 million people.
Two and a half million people were living in Georgia between 1937 and 1938. Over 29,051 people were persecuted, of which 14,372 were shot and the rest sent into exile or to camps.
Well-known writers, composers, poets, artists, playwrights and scientific figures became victims of the persecution. The brightest minds of the country were declared “enemies of the people” and “pests”.
Over 29,051 people were persecuted, of which 14,372 were shot
The persecution or Great Purge in Georgia was personally led by Lavrentiy Beria.
Thousands of people were persecuted and convicted on completely false and absurd charges.
One such example can be found in the archives which contain the case of an old shoemaker who was persecuted for piercing a newspaper with a needle while he was working. The newspaper contained an image of Stalin, and the shoemaker had pierced his eye. The denunciation was made by the same person whose shoes the shoemaker was repairing at the time of the incident.
In Azerbaijan, the “face” of the Stalinist repressions was Mir Jafar Bagirov, the first secretary of the Communist Party of the Azerbaijani SSR.
Many famous writers were targets of persecution and their arrest, as a rule, was preceded by a harassment campaign in the press.
120,000 were persecuted in Azerbaijan from 1937 to 1938
This includes the poet Ahmed Javad, who authored the words of the national anthem of independent Azerbaijan.
The 29-year-old poet Mikayil Mushfig was shot for being “an enemy of the people”, and his remains have not been found.
Huseyn Javid, one of the most famous and talented poets, writers and playwrights in Azerbaijan, was arrested in 1938 and died three years later in a camp.
The accusations ranged from “counter-revolutionary activities” to “anti-Soviet propaganda” and “nationalism”. Denunciations became a frequently-used tool. Sentences were summarily handed down without the participation of the accused.
It is difficult to come by an exact number of those who where killed, deported, forcibly resettled and exiled, but estimates put it that between 70,000 and 120,000 were persecuted from 1937 to 1938.
This is a large number for Azerbaijan, whose population at that time was just over 3 million.
Based on reports by 112, Associated Press, jam-news