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Vladimir Putin shows his hand as Moscow rehabilitates Stalin's conquests

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These are very busy days for Russia's state media and thousands of paid trolls.

As the 80th anniversary of the Hitler-Stalin pact and the beginning of World War II approaches, the Russian state has unleashed a massive media exercise (including the social media accounts of its diplomatic missions) in the Soviet-era art of "whataboutism" — given a new life under Vladimir Putin. The campaign aims to convince the Russians and the world that the calamity of 1939 was of Western making, and that the Poles and the Baltic states, who were victims of aggression, were in fact as bad as the occupiers and had made their own deals with the Nazis. The old Soviet propaganda line — "Stalin was forced by circumstances to strike a bargain with Hitler" — has been replaced by what at times resembles a boisterous celebration of the pact and resulting conquests, especially the USSR invading Poland together with the Nazis in September 1939 and occupying Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in summer 1940.

Read more: Estonia reaches out to its ethnic Russians at long last

Putin knows full well that these are extremely sensitive and painful subjects for people in Central Europe and the Baltics. But he charges ahead with offending them even........

© Deutsche Welle