Monday, February 17, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin isn’t Hitler but He is Opening the Way for Fascism, Moscow Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 17 – Vladimir Putin is too soft and too much a Soviet-era internationalist to be a Hitler, but his regime is creating intentionally or not the attitudes and conditions which could make fascism a genuine threat to the future of Russia, according to Ayder Muzhdabayev, a deputy editor of “Moskovsky komsomolets.”

            In a blogpost today,  the Moscow commentator argues that Russians should enjoy the Sochi Olympics because in the future, they are likely to look back at them as “the limit of tolerance, honor and freedom” on Russian television and “in our life as a whole” (

Given what he sees as “the tendencies and symptoms” in Russia today, “nothing real will remain: there were only be propaganda in more evil and cynical forms than was the case in the late USSR.”  Indeed, it is already possible to “compare [Russia under Putin] with Germany of the well-known times.”

“The primitiveness, aggressiveness and what is most important the effectiveness of the lie, unfortunately, are similar,” the “Moskovsky komsomolets” editor says. To be convinced of that, one only need to look at the ways in which Russians are attacking others and each other, dividing up the world between “us” and “them.”

But those who see Putin as “the leader of a neo-Reich” are wrong, he continues.  Putin is “a diabolical tyrant, of course, and a tyrannical tyrant, but he isn’t this,” Muzhdabayev says. He grew up as a KGB officer “but all the same is an internationalist.” Moreover, “for a Reichs leader, he is in human terms too soft and in the Soviet way sentimental.”

Nonetheless, the current Russian president has presided over a system that is producing people who might become precisely that, given that they are “growing up in an atmosphere of 24/7 lies and phobias” and given that they truly are “cynical beasts without the sentiments” that may be restraining him.

It is a mistake to assume that the only people who are promoting the emergence of such a generation are “national traitors who simultaneously “don’t love Putin or the Motherland.” Others who are disseminating lies and promoting phobias of one kind or another are also making a contribution to that.

These lies, hatreds and phobias are being introduced into the body politic in a way, Muzhdabayev suggests, that eventually will result in “a cancer” that will destroy that body and open the way for another and much more evil system.

Consequently, the Moscow editor ends his post by suggesting to his friends that they “watch the Olympics and value this holiday of good and peace in our hospitable land” because he says, he “fears” that there isn’t going to be “a kinder, more hospital and more peaceful” event in Russia in the future.

Many Russian commentators are making similar points, rejecting the idea that Putin is either Hitler or Stalin – a rejection that the regime itself is likely to be pleased with – but pointing out that the Kremlin leader, by his statements and actions, is creating the conditions under which one or the other could emerge.

One Moscow writer who has been prominent among such critics is Viktor Shenderovich who has been frequently attacked for those ideas. But as he points out in a blog post today, “taboos” – such as attacks on Jews -- which had been barriers to the return of such ugly pasts are now being broken (

But what the breaking of such taboos means has been obscured by the comments of those who insist that Putin has nothing in common with Hitler or Stalin, Shenderovich continues.  That he is not Hitler and not Stalin is, of course indisputable, just as he is not Ugandan “fuhrer Idi Amin.”  However, there are some similarities and they are worrisome.

“Nepotism, suppression of dissent, contempt for law and the indisputable hunt for Rabinoviches” as a means of stimulating the electorate “which is little inclined to work and defense but is always ready for a pogrom” are common to both the current ruler and those with whom he has been compared.

In regard to those things, Shenderovich says, Russians today “are distinguished from Germany only by the level of organization and from Uganda only by the average annual temperature.”  But that does not mean that they should not be worrisome to Russians and everyone else.

“It is possible to repeat like a mantra that Putin is not Hitler and not Stalin, and pleased with one’s own deception, destroy one’s opponent who does not assert the same,” he writes on the basis of his own experience.  “But Putin has been in power 15 years.” He has shown by what he has done and by what is done “in his name” enough to “understand what will happen next.”

Some may wish to “put their heads in the sand” like ostriches, Shenderovich concludes, but the rest should open their eyes, look around, and recognize the steps that are being made that could take Russia over the abyss.

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