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Anti-communism group sees Soviet threat in Putin's Ukraine grab

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Bill Clinton,Vladimir Putin,Socialism,Ukraine,Moscow,Cold War,Kiev

A foundation established under former President Bill Clinton to honor the 100 million killed under successive Soviet communist regimes is raising concerns about Russia’s military drive in Ukraine, suggesting that Moscow just can’t shuck its Cold War ways.

Marion Smith, the newly appointed executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, said, “I consider it a sacred responsibility to keep alive the memory of 100 million people who were killed by Communist regimes since 1917. Unfortunately, recent events in Ukraine — the reprise of Soviet-style rhetoric, and a rise of pro-Communist sentiments among segments of the population — have highlighted the difficulty of overcoming the legacy of Soviet communism. The work of our foundation is needed more than ever.”

Smith was named on Wednesday by Lee Edwards, chairman of the board of the foundation. Smith founded the Common Sense Society, a nonpartisan educational foundation active in the U.S. and Europe, and was a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

The appointment comes at a critical time for former Soviet satellites like Ukraine that are seeking to strengthen ties to the West over the apparent objections of Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

It also comes on a symbolic day: On this day in 1946, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered his Iron Curtain speech warning of the dangers of communism.

“Millions of Americans risked their lives and livelihood in defense of our freedoms against a Communist order. Our bipartisan effort will honor those sacrifices. We today and future generations must understand the horrors known by those who lived under Communist regimes, the roughly 1 billion people who continue to do so today, and those who fear Communism’s return in their own countries,” said Smith.

“So many still suffer under Marxist regimes,” said Edwards. “This makes the mission of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation more relevant than ever and it is why the board has chosen Marion Smith, a dynamic leader who brings to our organization new energy, vision, and dedication,” he added.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.