Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Putin Seeking to Rehabilitate Stalinism as Positive Alternative to the West, Pavlova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 25 – Vladimir Putin’s “’struggle with the threat of Nazism’” was very much on public view during his speech in Jerusalem this week, but his effort is part of a longstanding campaign not only to burnish his own image but to rehabilitate Stalinism as the only real and acceptable alternative to Nazism, Irina Pavlova says.

            Unfortunately, the US-based Russian historian says, “’progressive society’ neither in Russia nor in the West up to now has understood the meaning of all the activity” which may be called “’the struggle with the threat of Nazism’” (

            “Initially,” she continues, “this ‘struggle’ was thought up as a special operation which would solve and which continues to successfully solve a number of tasks which are important for the Kremlin not only in Russia but also in the world as a whole,” Pavlova argues.

            First of all, it was intended to “disorient public opinion” in Russia by linking “not only outbursts of ethnic nationalism but also the first budding of civic nationalism with fascism and Nazism” and by so doing suggest that there is today a most serious threat of the revival of Nazism.

            To that end, it was prepared to support “openly fascist groupings and actions” so that it could both frighten society and adopt measures to fight what it had created and then be in a position to apply these repressive laws more generally.  That was the case with the notorious Article 282 of the criminal code.

            By such actions, Pavlova argues, “the supreme power was viewed as the only reliable guarantee of the defense from the appearance of Russian fascism/Nazism” and thus gained the support of those its campaign would soon turn against.

            Second, “’the struggle with the threat of Nazism’ became a response to the formation of national self-consciousness in the former union republics which have become sovereign states, above all in Ukraine and in the Baltic republics, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.”  It helped Moscow disorder them, discredit them abroad, and keep them divided.

            Third, this “’struggle’” was “a respond to the incomplete and superficial de-Staliniztion of the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s and the insertion in mass consciousness of the cliché that Stalin is better than Hitler and that no comparison of Stalinism and Nazism is permissible.”

            With that goal in mind, Moscow helped to create the World without Nazism organization, with branches in 30 countries. And Pavlova points out something that is usually neglected: the International Forum of Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust January 22-23 in Jerusalem to which Putin spoke was one of its activities.

            And fourth, this “’struggle against the threat of Nazism’” came in response to efforts to learn the truth about World War II and especially about those who were responsible for its unleashing. Documents from the archives published at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s showed that Stalin and Hitler “bear equal responsibility” for unleashing the war.

            In order to fight back, Putin had a law adopted in 2014 which “not only banned but made punishable as a crime any independent research on the history of World War II.”  And this campaign led Moscow representatives to talk a lot about Nuremberg because that tribunal, held immediately after the war and with Soviet agents of influence taking part declared what Putin wants maintained to this day.

            The Nuremberg tribunal held that the allies should consider the guilt “only of Nazi Germany” and not the responsibility of anyone else. (In a transparent effort to restore that world, Putin proposed having the five victorious countries of the UN Security Council convene a summit meeting.)

            But even that goal pales in comparison with what Putin, continuing the work of his predecessors, “the Stalinist jurists,” hopes to do. Under the cover of brave words about fighting Nazism, Putin has been insisting on the Stalinist conception of the origins of World War II and is clearly seeking “to rehabilitate Stalinism as an alternative to Western civilization.”

             “That ambitious intension” explains Putin’s attacks on Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic countries.  But, Pavlova argues, “Putin’s propagandists, developing this thought, go further: they accuse not only all of Europe which in their words ‘lay down’ under Hitler, but also the entire West and all of Western civilization of ‘deep’ anti-Semitism” and thus inclined to neo-Nazism.”

            And thus the Putin regime seeks to suggest that the world faces a choice between “Western civilization with its ‘birthmark’ of anti-Semitism or modernized Stalinism [or what could simply be called Putinism] without ‘excesses’ in the form of the mass repressions that occurred under Stalin.”

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