Saturday, November 24, 2018

Another Revenant from High Stalinism: Putin Officials Warn Against Kowtowing to the West

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 24 – One of the more noxious if sometimes amusing policies of Stalin’s regime at the end of the 1940s and beginning of the 1950s was its regular warning against kowtowing to the West and related assertions that the Russians had invented everything the West had anyway.

            Those policies or at least the attitudes behind them appear to be making a comeback, something that should not have come as any surprise given the attacks on foreigners that have become a regular feature of Putin-era propaganda. Nevertheless, calls by senior officials to adopt a “Russia-only” approach are striking.

            In Stalin’s time, these appeals opened the way to systematic repression of many individuals and groups, including not unimportantly, the Jews. So far at least, under Putin, that has not happened; but what has occurred this week suggests that today’s Kremlin is less far from that outcome than many assume.

            The first of these two salvos comes from Russian Enlightenment Minister Olga Vasilyeva who has sharply criticized the use of words borrowed from other languages in the educational process and directed teachers to “open their dictionaries” and us perfectly good Russian equivalents (

            And the second comes from Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko who has declared that “the use of foreign medical technology” amounts to “worshipping the West,” an expression perilously close to the terms Stalin’s propagandists used (
            Fortunately, the reaction of many Russians to these notions is that they reflect at the very least hypocrisy on the part of their authors, a healthy attitude that informs many of the Twitter and Instagram posts that have appeared since Vasilyeva and Matviyenko made their comments (

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