Prosecutors in Russia’s western Oryol region have managed to get postage stamps featuring a portrait of Adolf Hitler withdrawn from sale.
According to the head of the Karelia-based community organization that printed the stamps, they were meant to "underscore the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War". The Oryol Regional Prosecutor’s Office, on the other hand, concluded that the stamps violate Russia’s federal law banning the use of National Socialist symbols.
On Friday, November 27, the Oryol Regional Prosecutor’s Office announced on its website that following an investigation, stamps featuring Hitler’s portrait would no longer be available for purchase in the region.
The stamps were being sold at local kiosks for 290 rubles apiece (about $3.80). They came in packaging stating that "Hitler was war criminal" and contained a warning about Russia’s prohibition on "Nazi propaganda".
The stamps attracted attention after a segment about them aired on the state channel television channel Oryol on Wednesday, November 25. The story underscored that the stamps were printed "not somewhere abroad, but in Karelia," by a local community organization called "Za Rodiny" (For the Motherland).
"Indeed, his portrait may cause a negative reaction from citizens, but in this case it’s a genuine portrait from that era (not reprinted from propaganda) and it’s presented in the correct patriotic spirit. It is, on the contrary, a strengthening of the heroic context of the great Victory over criminal fascist Germany," said the head of the organization, Vladislav Grin.
Following an inspection, the regional prosecutor’s office concluded that the sale of the postage stamps contradicts Russia’s federal law on "perpetuating the Victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War," which bans the use of National Socialist symbols. Regional prosecutors didn’t specify which particular NS symbol was found on the stamps; based on closeups of the image shown by the Oryol television station, Hitler’s portrait did not contain any National Socialist awards or insignia on his clothing.
The Prosecutor’s Office emphasized that the stamps were "promptly" removed from sale following its intervention. The management of Oryolrospechati — the company that owns the kiosks — received a warning, as did the company that purchased the stamps.
The inspection in the Oryol region happened almost simultaneously with the submission of a draft law to the Russian State Duma on banning images displaying german "war criminals" from World War II. If the bill is adopted, publicly displaying portraits of National Socialist Germany’s leaders — in line with displaying NS symbols — will be considered "extremism". Exceptions will be made for images that "do not contain any signs of promoting or justifying Nazism and ones forming a negative attitude towards Nazi ideology."