Kiselyov on Russia’s History Fascism

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Russian pundit Yevgeny Kiselyov, writing in the Moscow Times:

I would be fascinated to know if Westerners can fully appreciate the political significance behind President Dmitry Medvedev’s decision to create a special commission “for counteracting attempts to falsify history to the detriment of Russia’s interests.” Most foreigners would probably say, “This is very strange. Doesn’t Russia have more pressing problems it needs to tackle, such as the managing the crisis, modernizing the country’s political and economic institutions or battling corruption?”

Had the year been 1950, when the Soviet Union was making colossal efforts to recover from the aftermath of World War II, foreigners would have been equally perplexed that Josef Stalin chose that moment to initiate a huge public debate on the Marxist approach to linguistics.

Two decades before that, Stalin rewrote the history of the Bolshevik Revolution, the Red Terror and civil war. In this spirit, “A Short History of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)” was published under Stalin’s orders to make sure that all Soviets understood the “historical record” correctly — that Stalin was the one and only successor to Lenin.

In 1934, Stalin’s childhood friend and top Kremlin bureaucrat Avel Yenukidze published the book “The Underground Print Shop in the Caucasus.” It was interpreted as having diminished Stalin’s contributions to the printing press and to Bolshevism in general. As a result, Stalin did not spare his old friend. Yenukidze was arrested and executed as an “enemy of the people.” The crime: writing about his revolutionary youth without the necessary respect owed to Stalin.

Similarly, it was anyone’s guess why Stalin prohibited the sequel to the film “Ivan Grozny” by the famous director Sergei Eisenstein or why Pravda lambasted a new opera by Dmitry Shostakovich. Soviet intelligentsia were left scratching their heads trying to figure out why Mikhail Zoshchenko’s short stories and Anna Akhmatova’s poems were subject to such harsh criticism in literary magazine reviews.

The worst “falsifier” of history, of course, has been the Kremlin, and it is difficult not to draw a parallel between Medvedev’s decision to combat the falsification of history and similar steps taken during Stalin’s rule.

As soon as Medvedev uttered the words “attempts to falsify history to the detriment of Russia’s interests,” it was clear what he really meant: The state would crack down on any attempts to objectively examine the more unpleasant — and incriminating — aspects of Russian and Soviet history. This includes a candid, historical discussion of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of nonaggression between the Soviet Union and Hitler’s Germany — and, by extension, Stalin’s passive and active role in helping Hitler start World War II. Likewise, questioning the Soviet Union’s annexation of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia would be highly discouraged, as would raising the issue of how the Kremlin created and supported repressive puppet regimes all across Eastern Europe after rolling back Nazi forces at the end of World War II.

It is highly symbolic and ironic that “The Gulag Archipelago,” written by Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn, was denounced by the Soviet regime as “a gross falsification of history.” This was because the novel exposed crimes that bankrupted the foundation of the Soviet system. The book thoroughly documented that mass repression began under Lenin, that terror was premeditated, systemic and systematic and that the country created and fostered a giant impersonal bureaucratic machine for the moral and physical destruction of human beings.

“The Gulag Archipelago” changed the world’s attitude toward the Soviet Union. If there were people who previously viewed Soviet communism through rose-tinted glasses, “The Gulag Archipelago” exposed the harrowing truth about the government’s heinous crimes. Published in the West in 1973, Solzhenitsyn’s great “falsification of history” proved to be the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union.

Medvedev’s plan for keeping the historical record “accurate” coincides with the introduction of a bill “opposing the rehabilitation of Nazism, Nazi criminals and their accomplices on the territory of the independent states, former republics of the Soviet Union.” A prison term of three to five years is the recommended sentence for Russian and foreign offenders alike.

For example, anyone who condemns the Allies for handing over to the Soviet authorities in 1945 about 2 million “victims of Yalta” could be labeled as a “criminal.” According to the secret agreement between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union that was confirmed at the 1945 Yalta conference, the Allies agreed to forcefully repatriate all Soviet citizens who had fallen into German hands before they were freed by the Allied advance. These victims included Russian Cossacks, prisoners of war, forced laborers, emigres and anti-Communists who had fought for Germany against Stalin. Hundreds of thousands of these people were executed upon their “repatriation” to the Soviet Union or sent to the gulag.

Similarly, authorities could bring criminal charges against any historian who questions the whether the British and U.S. bombing of Dresden in February 1945 was justified.

Even while declaring battle against “falsifying history,” today’s authorities turn a blind eye to history textbooks that describe Stalin as an “effective manager” and portray the mass repression of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s as the only way Stalin could overcome the country’s colossal economic and security challenges.

Meanwhile, prime-time, state-controlled television is filled with historically garbled pseudo-documentaries. For example, one depicted the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis as being almost the greatest triumphs of Nikita Khrushchev’s foreign policy because the United States feared — which is to say, “respected,” according to Russian psychology — the Soviet Union as an equal superpower. Other “documentaries” portray the years under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Boris Yeltsin as being exclusively dominated by crises, disintegration and the loss of society’s orientation and values. In general, then-President Vladimir Putin set the stage for this politically driven historical bias when he referred to the collapse of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.”

Regarding questions of history, it seems that Medvedev is dutifully following in Putin’s footsteps. And this once again demonstrates who is really calling the shots in the country.

30 responses to “Kiselyov on Russia’s History Fascism

  1. First of all, why “fascism”? Ugh… It seems that someone misunderstands the term “fascism”. Not surprising though.

    “how the Kremlin created and supported repressive puppet regimes all across Eastern Europe after rolling back Nazi forces at the end of World War II.”

    Not exactly true. For example Czechoslovakia became communist “thanks to” Czech communists, who were extremely popular and immensely powerful. I dislike this myth that all communist regimes were established or created by Soviets. They were not.

    Also most regimes of eastern Europe were “repressive” (I’d rather use the word authoritarian, because every regime is repressive, so repression is no distinctive sign) before soviet invasion. The only change was totalitarization of society to a certain extent.

    • Pavel,
      “The only change was totalitarization of Society to a certain extent”.
      And to what extent was that?

      Oh do, scroll down to see the Photos.

      • I was talking about post World War II period. About countries such as Poland, Bulgaria, Romania or Czechoslovakia.

        After checking out that link you posted. I’m not surprised that Baltics celebrated Dritte Reich and were massively joining their ranks. I’d do the same.

        But it’s interesting how one person (Stalin in this case) can totally change fate of so many people in days or months. Only Mao surpassed him.

        • “Baltics celebrated Dritte Reich and were massively joining their ranks”

          Thank you for your understanding!

          Though I feel forced to straighten you up a bit in a way that to remind you that actually Balts were NOT keen about the Third Reich at all and were NOT massively joining their ranks (for example about 80% percent of Latvian Legion were drafted by force despite it being called “volunteer”).

  2. @”Similarly, it was anyone’s guess why Stalin prohibited the sequel to the film “Ivan Grozny” by the famous director Sergei Eisenstein”

    Later in the war, Stalin gave Eisenstein his biggest blockbuster, Ivan the Terrible parts one (1945) and two (1958) – the story of the Tsar on whom Stalin based himself. He adored part one but part two, when Ivan launches his own insane Great Terror, was different. In 1947, Bolshakov showed him the finished part two; it appalled Stalin: “It’s not a movie, it’s a nightmare!”

    Eisenstein appealed desperately to Stalin and was summoned to a masterclass. Ivan was Stalin’s alter ego. When Stalin attacked Eisenstein’s Ivan, he was defending himself: “Your Tsar is indecisive, he resembles Hamlet. Ivan was great, wise…”

    Zhdanov, also present, chimed in: “Ivan the Terrible seems a hysteric in Eisenstein’s version.” Then Stalin added tellingly: “Ivan kisses his wife for much too long.”

    Why Stalin loved Tarzan and wanted John Wayne shot

  3. Obama, Merkel and Eli Wiesel stood side by side at Buchenwald today acknowledging that horrific period of European history.

    Contrast that with Russia’s present attempts to sanitize their past.

    Russia is never going to become a democratic modern state until they deal as honestly as the Germans and Japanese have with their sordid history. There is a correlation that sadly too many Russians don’t understand.

    • No offense. But Japan is not a nice example. Have you ever read any japanese history textbook? I bet you’d be surprised. They glorify occupation of China and Korea. Politicians regularly visit Yasukuni Shrine (although if I was a Japanese I’d do that too). Japan is no longer an American puppet state, they do whatever they find right nowadays, not what you find right.

      I didn’t really plan to comment here, but after I saw your comment, I had to.

      • Japan has made frequent public apologies for that past:

        If being a peaceful, democratic and prosperous trading partner with the US and expanded over the decades with the rest of Asia has made them a “puppet state” then good for them.

        • You really believe what politicians say? :D Now that’s sad… Political praxis of japan and whole japanese society show that their view on history is not the same as American. I know what their textbooks say.

          Yes, peaceful, democratic (not in a western sense though) and prosperous (not thanks to Americans). But that doesn’t change anything about their approach to history. Besides, Japan is still imperial power, their weapon is economics and they rule you now =).

          And you didn’t understand, what I meant by “puppet state”. And I don’t feel like elaborating for I see it’d be useless. You Americans know everything better obviously. >_>

          • Democratic in a western sense.

            Yes, prosperous thanks to the Americans. Just like the South Korea (compare with North Korea) and the former West Germany (compare with the former East Germany).

            • No, they are prosperous thanks to their own will, they are very hard working people. Japanese prosperity is in no way American’s doing. Actually America is pretty unpopular there, after all invaders are almost never popular =].

              And just because you violently forced the Japanese to accept “democracy” (aka: elected oligarchy) doesn’t mean it de facto works as your democracy.

              Yukio Mishima represents real Japan.

              And what’s wrong with ruling others? You don’t have to be a Russian to know that ruling others is a normal thing. Americans do it, English do it, French do it :]. And soon the Chinese will rule us all.

              By the way, I’m not a Russian, if it’s not obvious enough.

              • I see. South Korea (the American occupational zone) is prosperous because the Koreans are also very hard working people, while the North Korea (Soviet zone) is starving because the Koreans are very lazy people. Makes sense.

                How popular is Russia among the Japanese in the Northern Territories? Oh wait, I forgot… some other, less benevolent occupiers had them all ethnic cleansed.

                Well, at least the Russian colonists there are prosperous becacuse they are very hard working people… oh, they’re not? Well.

                Yukio Mishima was crazy and he commited suicide after the normal Japanese literally pointed and laughed at his “coup attempt”:

                • Wishful thinking at its best ^_^.

                  Iraq is also doing so well thanks to Americans? Just like Afghanistan?

                  It depends on people more than you think. It’s not Americans’ doing that South Korea or Japan are prosperous. On the other hand it’s quite possible that if stalinists ruled Japan it wouldn’t be a prosperous country. If the Japanese were lazy bums and people of low intelligence it’d never be a prosperous country, no matter how America would try to make such country prosperous. But since the Japanese are the smartest, most hard-working and most intelligent people in the world they were able to reconstruct their country, just like Germans. Most nations are not capable of that. If Russians were like Germans or the Japanese, Russia would be now top 1 superpower without any help from outside.

                  Oh and I never claimed that Russia is popular in Japan. Of course it’s not. Kuril islands?

                  Yukio Mishima was a hero. Some people call him the last samurai. Kind of agree with that. I admire him.

                  • “Iraq is also doing so well thanks to Americans? Just like Afghanistan?”

                    The post-WWII occupation (reconstruction and reforms) were successful because there was no resistance (there was Werwolf but it was very weak).

                    Another country (defeated and reformed) was Italy, once a corporatist dictature.

                    “It depends on people more than you think. It’s not Americans’ doing that South Korea or Japan are prosperous. On the other hand it’s quite possible that if stalinists ruled Japan it wouldn’t be a prosperous country.”

                    Who do you think live in North Korea?

                    “But since the Japanese are the smartest, most hard-working and most intelligent people in the world they were able to reconstruct their country, just like Germans. Most nations are not capable of that.”

                    Who do you think lived in East Germany?

                    “Yukio Mishima was a hero. Some people call him the last samurai. Kind of agree with that. I admire him.”

                    Good for you, fan of utterly crazy fascist failures.

                    Btw the soldiers’ pointing and laughing – pointing at someone in Japan means utter and complete disrespect. Some “superior ideal”. No wonder he offed himself after this.

                    Oh, and just wait for some Putin fans here to bash Mishima for his homosexuality.

                    On his “coup attempt”:

                    So here’s the scene in the CO’s office: we’ve got two heads on the floor, a really messy carpet they probably had to throw away, and a desk jockey General who was probably wondering if these wackos were going to add him to the pile of skulls or leave him alive to explain to his superiors how his base got seized by a gay novelist and his four boyfriends. That’s a rock and a pretty durn hard place for a career officer.


          • “and they rule you now =).”

            Ah, the retarded Russian view of world where everyone has to “rule” the others.

            The only time anyone ruled someone there was during the occupation of Japan. Instead of being exploited and opressed, they were helped to rebuild, reform (re-form) and develop.

            For a comparison, in the small part of Japan occupied by Russians (to this day!), the entire population of almost half million people was ethnic cleansed. It’s now a total dump with most pople living in poverty.

            How typical of Russia.

  4. And how typical of Hermina. One more proof of Homo Sovieticus. You seem to be superficially knowledgeable about anything else but your own country,rasha.

  5. Me and homo sovieticus? :D Now that’s funny! I live in Bosnia and I’m a Bosniak :].

    • You can be anything you want on the internet.

      Bottomline is that you are just another poorly read and poorly travelled angry troll with a Sovok attitude passing through here no matter where you want to have us believe is your home.

      • Well, let’s see, I’m not the one, who’s an anonymous user here ^^.

        Troll? Germanic mythology? o_O What does have Germanic mythology to do with Russia?

        I’m not a Sovok. I wasn’t born in Soviet Union nor have I ever lived there or in any post-soviet republics.

  6. Hermina,
    You don’t have to be born in the Soviet Union to have Sovok mentality… We had a fellow, Tower Bolshevik, who apparently never left Los Angeles beaches – yet he is as Sovok as party boss in a village 500km from Moscow.

    You seem to be as well…

    • No. Just no. I’m not indifferent to results of labour, I’m not indifferent to common property and I’m definitely not isolated from world culture.

      I noticed Tower Bolshevik. He’s just a typical western leftist. The west is infested with those naive untermenschen. :)

  7. Hermina ,
    Untermenshen? What does germanic , racist
    terminology have to do with Bosnia ?
    People this Hermina is a thinly disguised , badly
    camouflaged moscovite provocateur . Kindly
    treat IT as such .

    • Look up Handžar SS division :).

      No, I’m not a Moscovite. It’s funny how you people like to accuse others of being “moscovite” or whatever :D.

      • I suspect she is a Bosnian Serb from her attitude.

        • Well, I think the Serbisches SS Freiwilligen Korps were somewhat “better” (in the terms of morale and maybe also combat value).

          The always helpful Nazi-boy “Russianpartiot” (yes, “partiot”, I guess it’s misspelled “idiot”) has this about them:

        • Nope, I’m a Bosniak or slavic muslim or whatever you people call us. :0

      • “Look up Handžar SS division :).”

        I know Handžar. An infamous band of mutiners and deserters, capable only of cruelly burning villages and then en masse defecting to the partisans anyway.

        Not much better than the drunken hordes of the Russian SS rapists and looters (and deserters/defectors, too) like the SS-Division RONA or the SS-Verband Druschina.

        What about them, not-a-Moscovite? Maybe just go and bring up Dirlewanger, the pedophile butcher of Belarus. The only part of his story I like is how it ended (actually I like it very much).

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