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Putin blasts 'neo-Nazis' in Ukraine

(ANSA-AFP) - MOSCOW, JAN 27 - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday repeated a claim that neo-Nazis were committing crimes in Ukraine -- an allegation Moscow has used to justify its military intervention -- as the world marked Holocaust Remembrance Day. "Forgetting the lessons of history leads to the repetition of terrible tragedies," Putin said. "This is evidenced by the crimes against civilians, ethnic cleansing and punitive actions organised by neo-Nazis in Ukraine. It is against that evil that our soldiers are bravely fighting," he said in a statement. Supporters of Putin's military operation allege Ukraine's treatment of Russian speakers in the country is comparable with the actions of Nazi Germany. One of the goals of the operation was the "de-Nazification" of Ukriane, Putin said, when he announced nearly one year ago he had ordered Russian troops towards Kyiv. The claims have been contested by the Ukrainian government and the country's Jewish community. (ANSA-AFP).