Staunton, September 22 – By its praise for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Hitler and Stalin, the Putin regime dishonors Russia not only because such praise is intended to reinforce the principle that the actions of the state are beyond public criticism and because the regime wants to eliminate “the chimera of conscience” among those its rules, Yury Skobov says.
But they also reflect Vladimir Putin’s view of the nature of international relations, the commentator says. “The collusion of Stalin and Hitler about the division of ‘spheres of influence,’” about what states should survive and what ones shouldn’t, is “for Putin and his minions the ideal model of international relations” (graniru.org/opinion/skobov/m.277494.html).
And it is exactly this “model” that Putin wants to impose on his “’Western partners,’” a model n which “small countries are for ‘the great power not partners but food. Thus it always was; thus it always will be, Putin television tells Russians. Thus ‘it was and will be, the Russian foreign ministry tells the entire world.”
“This phrase,” Skobov notes, was made infamous by a tsarist interior minister who when challenged about the shootings of workers in the Lena gold fields in 1912 responded that “thus it always was, and thus it will always be.” At that time, a deputy of the Duma found the courage to respond, “’thus it may have been but that is not how it will be.’”
It is difficult to describe just how dishonorable the current Russian position is, Skobov suggests, as it has, in the words of Gary Kasparov proceeded to restore the Soviet defense of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and even gone beyond it (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5D890242AA2B8). But the Moscow commentator makes an effort.
What the Russian foreign ministry has said would be matched only if the German foreign ministry were to “highly assess the final solution of the Jewish question as a forced measure under conditions of a war unleashed against Germany by Anglo-French imperialism,” a completely unthinkable possibility.
Or, equally unthinkable, Skobov continues, “if the US State Department were to highly evaluate plantation slavery as having played an important positive role in the development of civilization.”
But it isn’t just that “’the arguments’ of the supporters of the pact which are based on the formula that “but without it, things would have been still worse’ crumble at the very first encounter with historical facts. Rather it is that there are people for whom the abominable is always abominable and those for whom it isn’t.”
Here is one “historical fact,” Skobov says. “In the USSR in 1937-1938, when there was peace and relative order within the country, 700,000 to 800,000 people were shot on the basis of political charges. And for some it is sufficient to know this statistic in order to assess this fact in only one way.”
“But others will respond that ‘the times were that way, my son.’ The very same thing is true in assessment of the Holocaust.” Just try to imagine the reaction if a teacher in a German school today were to tell his or her pupils that “’the final solution’” had to be assessed as not completely evil but seen in a positive light as well.
What conceivable basis could such a statement be made? Exactly the same one that Moscow is using about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. If a German teacher followed that, he or she might say “in such complex conditions, the fact that the country was able to prepare and carry out such a large operation ought to be a source of national pride.”
No German teacher would dishonor his country by suggesting that. But “the declaration of the [Russian] Ministry of Foreign Affairs dishonors my country,” Skobov says. Its words make the country appear to be “a land of moral freaks” and should generate shame “in any normal Russian citizen.”
“We do not intend to put up with this shame. We will not be calmed until this shame is wiped out and until those who have made such a statement are held responsible,” the Russian commentator says.