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Background information on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

Lately the Estonian mass media has shown a growing interest in our recent history, primarily in the issues related to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. An essential source of information on that topic is a resolution passed by the USSR Congress of People's Deputies in 1989, which was also one of the issues discussed at the meeting of the President of the Republic with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on January 20, 2005 in Moscow. In order to make that source available to everyone we publish the full text of the resolution.

"On the Political and Legal Evaluation of the 1939 Soviet-German Non-Aggression Treaty"

1. The USSR Congress of People's Deputies accepts the findings of the Commission on the Political and Legal Evaluation of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Treaty of August 23, 1939.

2. The USSR Congress of People's Deputies agrees with the opinion of the Commission that the Non-Aggression Treaty was concluded in a critical political situation, under the growing threat of fascist aggression in Europe and Japanese militarism in Asia with the aim of removing the threat of approaching war from the USSR. Actually the aim was never achieved, and the illusions, created by German obligations towards the USSR, only aggravated the consequences of the treacherous Nazi aggression. At that time, the Soviet Union had to make a difficult decision.

The Treaty obligations were enforced immediately after signing, though the Treaty had to be ratified by the USSR Supreme Soviet. The ratification resolution was passed in Moscow on August 31, but the exchange of ratification protocols took place on September 24, 1939.

3. The Congress holds an opinion that the contents of the Treaty itself are not in conflict with the provisions of international law and diplomatic practices between states, as accepted for agreements of this kind. However, it was concealed during the Treaty conclusion and ratification processes that a secret supplementary protocol, dividing the sphere of influence of the signing parties from the Baltic to the Black Sea, from Finland to Bess Arabia had been signed simultaneously with the signing of this Treaty.

The originals of this Protocol have not been located either in the Soviet or in foreign archives. However, taking into account graphological, phototechnical and lexical expert evaluation of the copies, maps and other documents, and the correspondence between subsequent events and the contents of the Protocol, testify to its existence and signing.

4. The USSR Congress of People's Deputies confirms that the Non-Aggression Treaty of August 23, 1939, as well as the Friendship and Borders Treaty, concluded on September 28 of the same year, between the USSR and Germany and all the other Soviet-German agreements, became invalid in accordance with the provisions of international law from the moment of the Germany attack upon the USSR, this is, from June 22, 1941.

5. The Congress states that the Secret Protocol of August 23, 1939, as well as other secret protocols, signed with Germany during the years 1939-1941 constitute, as to the method of compilation and contents, a violation of Leninist principles of Soviet foreign policy. Territorial divisions into Soviet and German "spheres of influence" set forth in them, as well as other actions, were, from the standpoint of international law, in conflict with the sovereignty and independence of several third countries.

The Congress notes that at that time the relations of the USSR with Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were fixed by a system of treaties. According to the Peace Treaties of 1920 and the Non-Aggression treaties, concluded during the years 1926-1933, the signing parties undertook to mutually honour, under all circumstances, each other's sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability. The Soviet Union had similar obligations towards Poland and Finland.

6. The Congress states that the Secret Protocols were negotiated with Germany by Stalin and Molotov in secret from the Soviet people, the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist (Bolshevik) Party and the Party itself as well as from the Supreme Soviet and the USSR Government. These protocols were excluded from the ratification procedure. Thus the decisions about the signing were both formally and in their contents authoritarian acts that in no way reflected the will of the Soviet people, who carry no responsibility for this conspiracy.

7. The USSR Congress of People's Deputies denounces the act of signing the Secret Supplementary Protocol of August 23, 1939, as well as that of the other secret agreements with Germany. The Congress declares these Secret Protocols legally null and avoid from the moment of their signing.

These protocols did not create a new legal basis for the relations of the Soviet Union with third countries, but were nevertheless used by Stalin and his retinue for issuing ultimatums, brutally exerting pressure by threats to use force against other countries in defiance of treaty obligations to these same countries.

8. The USSR Congress of People's Deputies proceeds from the belief that a firm grasp of the complicated and contradictory past constitutes an essential contribution to the process of perestroika, which must guarantee every nation in the Soviet Union an opportunity for free and equal development in an integral, interdependent world, in circumstances of growing mutual understanding.

Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR M. GORBACHOV

Moscow, Kremlin, December 24, 1989
No 979-I

The Estonian translation is based on the text published in the Official Gazette of the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR and the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, 1989, No 29, item 579. The resolution was passed on December 24 and was published on December 27, 1989.

The Russian text of the resolution, the outcome of the individual voting and the verbatim report of the congress are published in: "Vtoroi sjezd narodnikh deputatov SSSR. 12-24 dekabrja 1989 g. Stenograficheski otchet. Tom IV. Izdanie Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR. Moskva 1990." (The Second Congress of the Peoples Deputies of the USSR, 12-24 December 1989. Verbatim report. Vol. IV. Publication of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, Moscow, 1990)

Before the voting, Aleksandr Jakovlev, a member of the Politbureau and Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee made a longer presentation. The results of the individual voting were as follows: 1435 in favour, 251 against, 266 abstained, the total number of voters 1952.

Public Relations Unit of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, January 26, 2005

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