Staunton, August 24 – Yesterday, on the anniversary of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Lenta.ru news agency published a commentary by Aleksey Isayev who repeated the now-standard line that Stalin had done nothing more than what Western leaders had tried to do in Munich (enta.ru/articles/2017/08/23/packt/).
As such, Moscow historian Mark Solonin says, it was totally without interest except for one small detail, the cartoon that Lenta.ru selected to illustrate Isayev’s words and the way in which it modified that cartoon to conform to current Russian legislation (solonin.org/article_ot-ideologii-k-idiotizmu).
The British cartoon from 1939 showed Hitler in the form of a bridegroom and Stalin as his bride, with the legend “Is It Love or Just Calculation?” “For half a century,” Solonin notes, this cartoon while well-known to specialists could not be published in Soviet newspapers and magazines.
But now times have changed: the constitution bans the state from having an ideology, “Orthodox chekists stand in church with candles, communists defend the holy image of the little father tsar from the Jewish-Masonic conspiracy,” and memorials to Marshal Mannerheim go up and then are pulled down in St. Petersburg, the historian continues.
Consequently, there would seem to be no reason for Lenta to refrain from publishing this cartoon, and so it did, “but with one important modification.” In the original, there are two swastikas on Hitler’s outfit. Lenta removed them, noting that it had done so “so as not to violate the law of the Russian Federation.”
It had its reasons. In November 2014, the Duma amended the Administrative Code to ban “propaganda and public display of Nazi attributes or symbols.” Thus, it subjected to fines not only the propaganda of Nazism but the display of Nazi symbols for whatever other purpose someone might have.
Then in April 2015, the Russian government agency Roskomnadzor which supervises the media announced that after a study by experts it had concluded that “the public demonstration of the attributes and symbols” was not by itself equivalent to propaganda and therefore wasn’t subject to sanctions.
Then the Duma got involved in all this and replaced the word “and” with the word “either” thereby confusing the situation further and meaning, Solonin says, that like those who enter Dante’s anyone in Russia involved with such things must “leave all hope behind” because one can never know how anyone will interpret this legal confusion.
As for himself, Solonin concludes, the introduction of the word “either” is “a manifestation of pure uncompromised idiotism.” But he says that one “can’t exclude” that some “evil people” will suggest that this is all part of a general plan to take away the rights of Russians rather than protect the rights the constitution says they have.
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