The Russian government is to outlaw criticism of Soviet military tactics during the Second World War in the latest example of its heavy-handed approach to dissent.
The controversial plan comes after a television documentary exposed the scale of human losses during one of the conflict's bloodiest battles.
The programme stirred deep emotions in a country that has traditionally glorified the heroic exploits of ordinary soldiers during the 'Great Patriotic War' but has often ignored the immense human cost behind the victory over Nazi Germany.
As anger among veterans swelled, the government sensed an opportunity to capitalise on the public mood at a time when the threat of economic recession is threatening prime minister Vladimir Putin's popularity.
Sergei Shoigu, the respected emergency situations minister, has called for a law, based on Holocaust denial legislation in Germany, that would make it a criminal offence to suggest that the Soviet Union did not win the War.
Mr Shoigu indicated that the legislation would also seek to punish eastern European or former Soviet states which deny they were liberated by the Red Army. The leaders of those countries could be banned from Russian soil, he said.
The minister's comments appeared particularly aimed at Estonia, which relocated a statue a Red Army soldier from a central square in the capital city Tallinn two years ago to a nearby war cemetery, prompting outrage in Russia.
"Our parliament should pass a law that would envisage liability for the denial of the Soviet victory in the Great patriotic War," Mr Shoigu said. "Then the presidents of certain countries denying this would not be able to visit our country and remain unpunished."
"Mayors of certain cities would also think several times before pulling down monuments."
The Estonian government has said it views the Soviet Union as an occupier rather than a liberator. Soviet troops invaded Estonia twice during the War, once as Nazi Germany's ally and then, in 1944, as its enemy. They remained until 1991.
Mr Shoigu has won support for his proposal from the prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika, and other legislators who say that a bill will be presented before parliament in the next few months.
Liberal Russians fear that the legislation will be used to punish anyone who criticises the manner in which Stalin conducted the war or addresses incidents such as the Soviet massacre of 22,000 Polish prisoners of war at Katyn Forest in 1940, which Moscow maintains was not a war crime.
Academics estimate that more than 26 million Soviet soldiers and civilians were killed between 1941 and 1945, a death toll that dwarfed the losses of any other country. Yet in Russia itself, where Stalin is still revered as the country's wartime saviour, the subject remains a forbidden one.
The NTV documentary attempted to address that taboo with a sensitive depiction of the Battles of Rzhev, fought in 1942-3, which killed up to 1.5 million soldiers, two-thirds of them Soviet.
The battles are little known in Russia, and even Marshall Georgy Zhukov, the Soviet war hero who led the Rzhev operations, barely mentioned them in his biography.
The documentary showed re-enactments of the battles and included interviews with German war veterans who expressed horror over the manner in which Soviet troops appeared to be used as "cannon-fodder".
The film was greeted with widespread opprobrium. Critics demanded the arrest of its presenter, the well known news anchor Alexei Pivovarov, who was accused of being part of a Jewish conspiracy financed in the West to belittle the Soviet war effort.
"It has become the fashion to smear the heroic deeds of the Soviet people and to defame the Soviet way of life," said Ivan Korbutov, a retired general who heads the Russian council of war veterans. "Such actions, orchestrated at the behest of the West to discredit our glorious past, must be brought to court and the journalists responsible punished."