Monday, June 16, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin’s War in Ukraine Marks Rebirth of Stalinism in Russia, Chubais Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 16 – The Russian authorities have unleashed and are conducting a war in Ukraine, “a new type of war without declaration or a front line” and one that is simultaneously “destroying all official Soviet and post-Soviet myths and clarifying the real nature of the political regime in Russia,” according to Igor Chubais.

            Chubais, a Moscow professor and commentator and the elder brother of UES head Anatoly Chubais, says in a blog post yesterday that as a result of what Putin is doing in Ukraine, “everyone must understand that a reborn and updated Stalinist regime is operating in Russia” (

            Many people in both Russia and the West do want to believe that and continue to place their faith in three key myths that the events in Ukraine show are no longer true.  First, the Russian invasion has destroyed the long cultivated myth about the Great Fatherland War which includes the notions that war is “impermissible” and those who launch one are guilty of “crimes against human nature.”

            Second, the Russian war in Ukraine has “completely destroyed the myth about ‘the fraternal Ukrainian people.’” Russia for a long time into the future “will not have any brothers or any friends.” It may be that Russians will be able at some point to be friends with Germans or Chinese, but they will never again do so with Ukrainians.

            And third, Putin’s Ukrainian actions have destroyed “the myth about present-day Russia as an Orthodox state.” According to Chubais, “Orthodox do not shoot at Orthodox!”  But the Russian Orthodox Church has not tried to distance itself from the fighting or call for its end. Instead, “Orthodoxy has been transformed into an instrument of official policy.”

            The Russian media have helped in this process, he continues.  They have “completely ceased to fulfill the function of informing citizens” and instead become “a direct and open megaphone of the terrorist organizations ‘the Donetsk Peoples Republic’ and ‘the Luhansk Peoples Republic.’”

            Indeed, Chubais argues, “there are no more mass media outlets in Russia; [[instead,] there have been restored the means of mass agitation and propaganda which existed in the USSR.”  And the situation is worse because Western broadcasts to Russia are to a large extent no longer heard.

            These acts of destruction, he continues, “mean the destruction of all the rest of the official myths constructed on the basis of them and the draining of any meaning from any declaration by the authorities.”  Nothing, not the constitution, not a legal state, not the ban on censorship any longer has any meaning.

            And there has been another revenant from the Stalinist past, he continues, the appearance of “’useful idiots’” in the West like Marie Le Pen in France or the German parliamentarian who talked about “fascists in the Maidan.” 

            Given all this, both Russians and people in the West should recognize this new reality and take appropriate measures, and the Ukrainians should not pay a single penny of their gas “debt” to Russia. “Paying for one’s own destruction is,” Chubais concludes, “something more than absurd.”

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