Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Moscow’s Failure to Condemn De-Communization within Russia Sparks Outrage from the Left

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 28 – Moscow has a long history of denouncing others for what it is itself doing, be it on the issue of the use of irregular forces or that of handling minority languages in schools.  But now that approach with regard to Soviet monuments and their fate is sparking anger among those who still identify with the USSR.

            In a comment for the communist Forum-MSK portal, Krstina Melnikova says that Russian officials and the Moscow media are quite right to condemn the destruction of Soviet war memorials in foreign countries but complains that unfortunately these same outlets are ignoring similar actions “in the very center of Russia” (forum-msk.org/material/news/15956119.html).

            In August, she writes, “in the small city of Sasovo in Ryazan Oblast,” a monument to a grieving Soviet mother bowing her head to the Banner of Victory and the casket holding the remains of a Red Army man who had died during the Great Fatherland War was taken down and in the most cynical way.

            The city authorities arranged for the local branch of the Union of Veterans of Military Operations to do the job and presented it as a victory for that group and for the city because the powers that be have promised to re-erect the statue – but not in the city but rather in the distance village of Kustareva out of everyone’s way. 

            Unlike with the taking down of statues in Berlin and Prague, the local Sasovo media
“did not devote great attention to this arbitrary action happening right under their noses, and the reaction of local people was limited to some posts on VKontakte.  But that reaction, to judge from the excepts Melnikova was extremely negative.

            Two, she cites, are especially instructive on attitudes from this part of Russian society.  “We all well remember,” the first wrote, “what a storm of public anger arose in Russia when the Estonian authorities shifted the Bronze Statue from the center of Tallinn to a military cemetery at the city’s edge …. But here, in Sasovo, our own local authorities have acted practically the same as the foreign politicians.” And here there has been no reaction.

            In some ways, he continued, the Russians have acted even worse. “The people of Tallinn wanted to shift the monument to the edge of the city, but our talented successful managers without hesitation moved the Grieving Mother to a distant place where it would be surrounded by wild beasts.”

            It may be “out of place,” he concluded, to remind those behind this shameless act that the Duma has been considering a defense ministry proposal to impose a five-year prison sentence on those who demolish or desecrate wat memorials. At present, these officials seem to think they can do anything they want.

            The second writer is even more brutal in his assessment of the demise of Sasovo statue. He says that such things are taking place across Russia and says it is no accident because the bourgeoisie in Russia and the bourgeoisie internationally are all the same and opposed to the Soviet people and its triumphs.

            Haven’t you noticed, he asks rhetorically, “for whom Putin has been dedicating statues in recent times? To the tsars!” or to anti-Soviet types like Kappel, Denikin, the White Finns and Putin’s favorite writer as he himself admits Ivan Ilin who worked with the Nazis. You don’t suppose this is an accident?

            What is needed, Dmitry Chorny, who describes himself as “a citizen of the USSR,” is “a new, reborn GULAG in which the bourgeoisie will exculpate its guilt before the Soviet fatherland by rebuilding socialist industry. When that happens, all this de-communization will cease, you can be certain,” just as it should be.

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