October 21, 2006

Putin’s chance


Tom Parfitt (Bureaucracy forces foreign aid groups to stop work in Russia, October 19) calls attention to the troubling status of human rights in Russia, in the wake of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder. As President Putin comes under EU pressure on civil liberties, he is presented with a suitable opportunity to honour human dignity and courage. He can do this by revealing the truth behind the fate of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of 100,000 Jews threatened by the Nazi regime in 1944. In January 1945, less than a year after Wallenberg created protective passports and safe houses to rescue tens of thousands of lives in Hungary, Soviet troops marching into Budapest arrested the diplomat and imprisoned him at the Lubyanka prison in Moscow. He was never seen again. The Russian government has failed to release vital information on Wallenberg’s case. Today, the truth behind Wallenberg’s disappearance is in the hands of President Putin. Disclosing it would mark an important step for Russia’s civil liberties.

Baruch Tenembaum
International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, New York