Saturday, February 15, 2020

Russia Must Choose to Be Successor of Gorbachev’s USSR Not Stalin’s -- or Face Neighbors’ Unending Hostility, Tsipko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 9 – Present-day Russia wants to be the successor to the Soviet Union but its leaders do not recognize that they must make a choice between two very different predecessors: the Stalinist one or the perestroika one, which were in fact based on entirely different principles, Aleksandr Tsipko says.

            And because the current elite has not made that choice, it hasn’t yet “recognized either the real causes of the disintegration of the Slavic Russian world or the fundamentally anti-Russian nature of independent Ukraine,” the senior Moscow commentator say (

Thus, it is shocked by the anti-Russian attitudes and pro-Polish ones expressed by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky who many in Moscow hoped would become pro-Russian. They shouldn’t be, and they should not expect that outcome as long as Moscow positions itself as the successor to Stalin rather than Gorbachev.

“Even before the 1917 revolution,” Tsipko continues, “historians involved with research into the nature of Ukrainian separatism warned that if Ukraine became autonomous, it would quickly and inevitably be transformed into an anti-Russian country.” That happened in 1918-1920 and it has happened again since Moscow turned away from perestroika.

That is something Russians must recognize, he says, “and the sooner we turn away from Soviet myths about the indestructible spiritual unity of Russians and Ukrainians, the more out foreign policy will be the product of the real interests of the former RSFSSR which has become the Russian Federation.”

That is proving difficult because “we today simultaneously are the legal successor of two completely different USSRs. On the one hand, we are the legal successors of the ideology of the Stalinist USSR, more precisely of pre-perestroika USSR, and on the other, we are the legal successors of Gorbachev’s perestroika version.”

“And we do not see or consider that the ideological legitimacy of these two USSRs was completely different.” That of “perestroika USSR was in fact anti-communist” and therefore could condemn the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocols as the USSR Congress of Peoples Deputies did in September 1989.

The Congress declared that that agreement was “an act of personal power and in no way reflected the will of the Soviet people which does not bear responsibility for this deal.”  This means, Tsipko argues, that “already in Gorbachev’s times,” its elected leaders had made a clear distinction between the interests of the people and the will of Stalin.

Further, there was a recognition that “the peoples of the USSR were just as much victims of Stalin’s repressions as were the peoples of Eastern Europe, including Poland.”  That attitude gave hope that Russianness could be separated from Sovietism and that the hostility of Eastern Europe’s peoples to the peoples of the USSR could be overcome.

Tragically, the current Russian leadership has turned away from that position and views itself and its country as the legal successor not of Gorbachev’s country but of Stalin’s, a shift that explains “all these present-day anti-Russian passions both in Ukraine and in Poland.,” Tsipko suggests.

“In my view,” he says, “the denial of the legal succession of present-day Russia from Gorbachev’s USSR inflicts moral harm not only on the contemporary non-ethnic Russian nation but on the ethnic Russian people in general.” And until that changes, “we will never get out of the current situation of a besieged fortress.”

“A Russia which tightly connects itself with the foreign and domestic policies of Stalin and which considers that he dd everything correctly inevitably will be viewed by our neighbors in Europe as a threat to humaneness and humanity,” Tsipko concludes.

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