Thursday, June 3, 2021

Given Ban on Equating Hitler and Stalin, Will Russians Start Comparing Putin and Lukashenka? Shtepa Asks

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 1 – The Russian Duma is moving toward the adoption of a law that will make any equation of Hitler and Stalin and their respective totalitarian regimes a crime. That involves real problems for Russia today. But a more fundamental question, Vadim Shtepa says, is whether Russians will date to compare Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

            Within their respective countries, the editor of the Tallinn-based Region.Expert portal says, these two leaders have “in fact constructed totalitarian regimes having suppressed all opposition. One ‘fuehrer’ poisons his opponents with chemical weapons while the other in piratical fashion seizes civilian aircraft” ( in Estonian; in Russian).

            Communism and Nazism, of course, had different “ideological roots,” while Putinism and Lukashenka-ism have common ones, but the totalitarian nature of both pairs has turned out to be “very similar,” Shtepa says. And that makes comparing Putin and Lukashenka potentially even more dangerous for Russians than comparing Putin and Hitler.

            That is limited only by the fact that Russians fought a war against the latter foreign ruler and that in their experience, “the further into history World War II recedes, the louder the victory in it is celebrated,” just one of the paradoxes that the Russian regime and the Russian people must continue to face.

            Another, the regionalist writer says, is while “Russia declares itself to be ‘the main victor over Nazism, the current Kremlin powers that be ever more actively borrow Nazi ideas and attributes,” including the development of a leader cult and the celebration of “’the glorious past’” of their respective nations, both seen as guarantors of future victories.

            Because of the war, the Kremlin is generally able to keep these similarities out of the glare of publicity; but because there has not been a war with Belarus, the regime faces a more difficult challenge. For Russians, Lukashenka is a totalitarian dictator. If they draw parallels between him and Putin, that will create a challenge far more difficult for the regime to meet.


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