Putin will not go to Auschwitz for 70th anniversary of liberation

13th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend ceremonies in Poland for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

A trip to Poland "is not on the Russian president's agenda", spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP, without giving any reason.

Putin did not receive any formal invitation, Peskov told the Interfax news agency, adding however that the Kremlin understood that no official invitations were sent out.

The liberation of Auschwitz will be marked at the camp, now a museum, on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The museum confirmed that no official invitations were sent out but that it did notify 43 countries, including Russia, about the events.

The main ceremony in front of the camp's gates will be led by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.

French President Francois Hollande and his German counterpart Joachim Gauck are among European leaders who have confirmed they will be attending, according to a provisional guest list released by the museum Tuesday.

Russia will be represented by its ambassador, according to the list, which does not include anyone from the United States at the moment.

Putin's absence will be particularly noticeable since the camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945.

Relations between Russia and the West have plunged to their lowest since the Cold War over Moscow's alleged role in the Ukraine conflict, with Poland particularly critical of its actions.

However, Putin may attend major commemorative events in the Czech Republic marking the Auschwitz liberation anniversary, Peskov told AFP.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic has opposed Putin's presence at the ceremonies on January 26 and 27.

About 1.1 million people from around Europe -- about one million of whom were Jews -- perished in the Nazi death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1940 and 1945.

Russia this year on May 9 will host major celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. Those invited include US President Barack Obama and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

© 2015 AFP

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