Staunton, October 31 -- Many have been taken in by Vladimir Putin’s participation in the dedication of the Wall of Grief in Moscow this week, Irina Pavlova says; but everyone should recognize that the Kremlin leader’s action is “not a sign of the recognition of the crimes” of Stalin’s time but rather of “the excesses” in repressions under the Soviet dictator.
“Today,” the US-based Russian historian says, “mass repressions of the Stalinist type aren’t needed and therefore excesses [of those kinds] can and must be recognized and condemned …. Today Russian society even without mass repressions is loyal to the supreme power” (ivpavlova.blogspot.com/2017/10/blog-post_30.html).
To be sure, Pavlova continues, Russians remain closely monitored by various force structures who find it sufficient to repress “the so-called extremists and terrorists from time to time in order to maintain the necessary tone in society.” These structures are willing to allow for some fifth column activity to call to popular attention “the idea of its existence.”
It isn’t necessary to repress even that group all the time because Putin’s regime is “advanced Stalinism of the information era, a Stalinism which is not afraid of freedom of speech because it has completely mastered various methods of devaluing” the importance of such speech and other forms of communication.
Advanced Stalinism is even prepared to have electoral “opponents” like Kseniya Sobchak because its masters know they can control her or make her words irrelevant. After all, the same people who dedicated the Wall of Sorrow this week plan to mark the centenary of the Cheka on December 20.
Pavlova writes that she has always been against monuments like the one dedicated in Moscow this week because it is not a symbol of a liberation from the past but rather “a symbol of a new version of the pro-Stalinist conception of Soviet history, a symbol of a new edition of Stalinism.”
“It is extremely indicative,” she continues, “that Russians contributed only 45 million plus rubles for this memorial. The main sum, 300 million, was provided by the Moscow government. I see in this,” Pavlova says, “not indifference as many think but the fact that the simple Russian people” understand what is going on better than the intelligentsia does.
At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, there was a brief period when the situation was different, when people began to understand. “This was the moment when Memorial could have become not an ordinary NGO but a real social-political movement” that “could have grown into a real opposition to the powers that be.”
This week, however, Memorial, long ago denounced by the regime as a foreign agent, took part in the dedication of the memorial “together with representatives of the Kremlin,” a measure of how far wrong things have gone and how little Russians and others understand what is going on.