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Speeches in the News

Russian teenager stirs emotions with speech on WWII

Teenager Nikolai Desyatnichenko has caused huge controversy in Russia and beyond with a speech that asked for a more balanced reappraisal of German soldiers involved in the Battle of Stalingrad. He was speaking to German MPs in Berlin, at an event in which German and Russian schoolchildren had researched stories about war victims and reported on them.

Desyatnichenko spoke about reading of a German soldier named Georg Johann Rau, a Wehrmacht corporal who had fought in the Battle of Stalingrad and later died in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp.

"Georg's story and my work on the project touched me," he said, adding that he had started visiting the war graves of German soldiers around the Siberian city of Kopeisk.

"It deeply saddened me, because I saw the graves of people who died innocently, many of whom wanted to live in peace and did not want to go to war."

He spoke of the "unspeakable difficulties" faced by soldiers during the war, and ended his speech to the German parliament by expressing the hope that "common sense will prevail on Earth and the world will never see war again".

 

All of this caused great upset in Russia, with the Kremlin ultimately reacting by saying that criticism of the speech was excessive. It reminds us that there are some topics that are still so imbued with emotion that almost any comment in a speech will draw criticism.

 

 

Free Speech Coming at a Huge Cost

Many colleges in the USA are spending large amounts of cash to offer secuorty security when they invite controversial speakers to attend.

For example University of California at Berkeley, famous as a haven of free speech and debate back in the 1960s, has spent some $2.5 million on security for controversial speakers since February. 

$200,000 was spent for the visit of Milo Yiannopoulos in February; then some $600,000 for Ann Coulter (ultimately the appearance wascancelled) and a further $600,000 for conservative commentator Ben Shapiro in September. Milo Yiannopoulos’ most recent speech, which was part of Berkeley’s “Free Speech Week,” could ultimately cost upwards of a $1 million.

President Mugabe's Final Speech

At first he refused to go: President Robert Mugabe stumbled through a prepared speech and then point blank refuses to resign. It was high drane television on Sunday night following a weekend of suspense. By ignoring mass protests and a military intervention, Mugabe seemed to have further diminished his chance for a ‘graceful’ exit.

Then suddenly he resigned.

Here is a transcript of his final speech as President of Zimbabwe

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