Sunday, October 27, 2019

The West Feared Stalin but It Hates Putin, Pozner Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 23 – Vladimir Pozner, a Russian commentator who grew up in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s and has US as well as Russian citizenship, says that people in the West feared Joseph Stalin but did not hate him and did not view him as the monster he was. Now, however, people in Western countries do hate Vladimir Putin.

            In the course of a lengthy interview with Lithuania’s Delfi news agency on the state of media and public life in Russia and the West, Pozner says that he “well remembers” how people in Western countries viewed Stalin, someone “much more horrible than Putin” (

            People in the West were afraid of Stalin to be sure, “but there was no hatred. He wasn’t presented as a monster in the ways that Putin is.” The reasons for this change, Pozner says, lie in the collapse of journalistic objectivity and the transformation of much of the media into propaganda.

            When people form their opinions about another country or the leader of another country, they do so on the basis of what the media says; and if the media is not objective, their opinions won’t be either if they lose the skepticism about what is reported there, the Russian commentator says.

            At the same time, Pozner continues, “one must not say that Americans hate Russia. They equate Russia with Putin. And Americans aren’t the only ones who do that. They transfer their attitudes toward Putin to Russians in general.” Something similar but to a much lesser degree happens in Russia as well, regarding Trump and the US.

            The difference reflects two things, the journalist says. On the one hand, “in Russia, hatred of Trump isn’t cultivated.” He is criticized but not presented as a monster. And on the other, Russians, because of their experiences, are more skeptical about what the media report than Americans are about what theirs do. 

            In short, Russians are less gullible than Americans. But “that is the only difference,” Pozner concludes.

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