“From a historical point of view,” the Rex news agency editors say, “this is no worse than decorating Robespierre with a Bourbon lily [or] ascribing Lincoln to the Confederacy.” But the situation is even worse because the monument to this democratic White general has been erected in a city named for Lenin (Ulyanovsk) and on a street named for Marshal Tukhachevsky!
Few leaders of the White Movement during the Russian Civil War were monarchists, but few were more committed to the principles of democracy or to the rights of workers than Kappel. As a result, in Soviet times, the Russian commander who died in the Siberian ice campaign and was buried in Harbin seldom received much attention.
But precisely because of his nobility of character and his democratic principles, Kappel has enjoyed a certain revival in attention among some Russians in the last two decades, most prominently in 2007 when his grave in China was discovered – it had been destroyed by Soviet forces after 1945 -- and he was re-buried in Russia.
But apparently in Putin’s time, Kappel’s well-known commitment to the well-being and political rights of his working-class soldiers is something the powers that be do not want to be remembered. Instead, Russia’s current rulers prefer to present the general as something he was not, a convinced supporter of the imperial tradition.