Berezovsky Speaks on Russia’s Mental State

Writing in the Independent, exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky delivers an icy blast at the neo-Soviet Kremlin. Blogger Cicero says:

Berezovsky goes straight to the heart of the problem of Putin’s Russia: the failure by Putin to acknowledge that the USSR was a criminal state. The disgusting behaviour of Putin’s Nashi thugs towards the British Ambassador in Moscow reflects the fact that Putin not only feels no shame about the crimes of the Soviet era, he is actually proud of them. The fact that Moscow can continue to launch cyber attacks against Estonia, together with closure of the border and all the other acts of harrassment, simply reflects that Putin’s regime is not one that the West can do business with.

Now, here’s Mr. B, playing the national psychiatrist which Russia oh-so-badly needs (along with a truly ginormous tabletka of lithium, or at least prozac):


Last week saw the commemoration of Victory Day in Russia, which remembers the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Last month came the upsetting removal of a Soviet war memorial, known as The Bronze Soldier, from the centre of the Estonian capital, Tallinn, to a Russian military cemetery on its outskirts.

These events forced me to revisit aspects of the Soviet Union’s shameful and violent communist past, which now need to be addressed by present-day Russia in order to preserve relations between my motherland and post-communist Eastern Europe.

There are several unquestionable truths that were passed on to the majority of Soviet citizens from their parents. Some were destroyed by the reality of life, but one remained intact and holy: that Soviet soldiers liberated the world from the Nazi plague. That is my belief as well. But on the other hand. . .

The current battles between Russia and Estonia (concerning the reburial of Soviet soldiers’ remains) have much wider significance than just being one more spat between Russia and its former vassals.

The roots of this clash go much deeper than the gas wars against Ukraine (and then Belarus), than the war of wines against Georgia, and deeper even than Russia’s struggle against the deployment of US missile defence elements in Eastern Europe.

The fundamental cause of this conflict lies in the main unsolved issue of modern Russia: the denial by the Kremlin, and by President Vladimir Putin, of the Soviet regime’s criminal nature.

Objectively, this issue was inherited by President Putin from former president Yeltsin. Boris Yeltsin undoubtedly made several mistakes, some of which are the favourite theme of his detractors. They all, however, stay silent about the two main mistakes of Russia’s first president.

First, Yeltsin lacked the will (or, maybe, the courage) to indict the communist regime as a criminal one – no less so than the Nazi regime, with all the resulting consequences for the communists themselves, and for their vanguard, the Soviet secret police. Second, Yeltsin also failed to lead Russia to repentance, to make every Russian acknowledge his own responsibility for the crimes of the communist regime. Without repentance, however, those who were oppressed and raped by Russia, such as Estonia and the other Baltic states, will never trust it again.

It is not just that Putin has not corrected these mistakes, he has actually brushed aside the idea of repentance altogether. The return of the Soviet national anthem for Russia points to the Kremlin’s outdated view of Russia and its place in the modern world.

On top of that, playing the Soviet anthem during Yeltsin’s funeral was a particularly elaborate way of abusing the memory of a man who bestowed freedom upon Russia, and others beside it.

It is a well-known historical fact that the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany constituted a replacement of Nazi oppression with Communist enslavement for Eastern European countries – an enslavement that lasted for 45 years, far longer than Nazism. Therefore, the defeat that Putin’s Russia is now suffering in Estonia will soon reverberate around Poland, Hungary, Latvia, and other places where the crimes of the Communist Party and KGB were duly appraised. Thus, the cause of the abuse of our soldiers’ graves is not the bad behaviour of the Estonian government, but the very denial of historical truth by the Kremlin.

So, who is the Soviet Soldier, really – a liberator or an enslaver? The answer to this question can be given only by the people of Russia. If we will not repent, he will remain the enslaver. And if repentance comes, he will be an honest but misguided soldier. May that memory be blessed forever.

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