Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's director for international relations, wrote in a letter to Russian Prosecutor-General Yuri Yakovlev Chaika: "Born in London, I have always acknowledged the role of the Red Army on the Eastern Front in preventing a Nazi invasion of Great Britain. Thereby, your people's sacrifice contributed to the survival of British Jews from destruction in the Holocaust – only 50 kilometers away on the European continent.
"I am presently in Moscow for an international conference on 'The Lessons of Victory in the Second World War/The Great Patriotic War – Seventy Years Later.' Together with colleagues from the Russian Holocaust Center and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial of Israel, we were horrified to discover an exhibition in a hotel gift shop – a chess-set featuring the Red Army led by Joseph Stalin lined up with the Nazi Wehrmacht led by Adolf Hitler – placing them on an equal level."
Dr. Samuels added that "alongside this swastika-bedecked abomination lay the victory ribbon of Russian veterans and, behind it, a shelf of 'Matryoshka' dolls of Orthodox Jewish figures displaying anti-Semitic stereotypes."
Samuels said he had learned that "the Moscow region producer and distributor of these 'souvenirs' – indeed now prohibited by the Russian Federal law against Nazi imagery signed by President Putin this month – serves principally gift shops in Moscow tourist hotels, reportedly Holiday Inn and Hilton chains. It is mainly tourists who may pay 27,000 roubles (about $590) for such products."
The letter argued that "these sales are an insult to every Allied veteran and victim of World War II and also to the Russian tradition of chess excellence."
The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged the prosecutor-general to "confiscate all such products in view of their offense to history and their encouragement to today's neo-Nazi activists and Skinhead youth" and concluded that "legal measures must also be taken against the producers and distributors."