(Meduza) – Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has come to the defense of the Russian high school student who addressed the Bundestag in Germany on November 19. Nikolai Desyatnichenko, a young man from Novy Urengoy, told German lawmakers about a Wehrmacht soldier captured in the Battle of Stalingrad who later died in Soviet captivity.
Some believe Desyatnichenko’s remarks were controversial because he expressed the belief that many of the German soldiers killed or captured at Stalingrad were “innocent men” who “wanted to live peacefully” and “didn’t want to fight.”
Peskov criticized the “bullying” Desyatnichenko has faced for his speech, saying that the student clearly had no “evil intent,” such as the propagation of Nazism.
The mayor of Novy Urengoy has also defended Desyatnichenko’s speech, rejecting allegations that his remarks in any way support fascism.
Several public figures in Russia have called for police action in response to Nikolai Desyatnichenko’s speech. Politicians at the regional and federal levels have appealed to the Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Security Service, and the Kremlin.
Elena Kukushkina, a lawmaker in Russia’s Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, asked local officials in Novy Urengoy to investigate Desyatnichenko’s school, warning that his comments about German soldiers at Stalingrad could be a sign that Russian educators are trying to “reexamine” the results of the Second World War. She says she worries the speech could constitute Nazi propaganda.
Ivan Vershinin, another Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug lawmaker, says he plans to lecture students at Desyatnichenko’s school about the Second World War and the Battle of Stalingrad. Vershinin also says he will talk to students about “the structure of the government.”
At the federal level, State Duma deputy Boris Chernyshov appealed to the Attorney General’s Office, asking officials to find out if Desyatnichenko’s parents or teachers are responsible for his speech, which Chernyshov insists was ghostwritten.
Local officials in Novy Urengoy are reportedly investigating Desyatnichenko’s school to determine if his speech at the Bundestag “turned out as it did” due to edits by one of his teachers.