Staunton, June 6 – In the 1930s, many Russians did not know about the tortures and murders the Stalinist regime carried out. That regime was able to hide what it was doing. But now, in the age of the Internet, its Putinist successor cannot hide the violence it is engaged it. Instead, it is flaunting it as a tactic to instill fear and obedience, Aleksandr Skobov says.
Putin and his Belarusian counterpart in fact take a certain amount of pleasure in “showing us that they can do anything, that they can do what they are doing to some now to each of us later so that we will experience a feeling of powerlessness and we will all be afraid, the Russian commentator says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=60BB6A1407E7D).
But for that to work, they must become ever more brutal rather than showing any relaxation in their repressions, Skobov continues. “The USSR began to fall apart when the price of ‘anti-Soviet agitation’ fell from seven years in the camps to 15 days of administrative arrest.” Now, the regime wants to up the cost to ensure compliance.
“In our country,” Skobov says, there are not so many people who are prepared for years in prison on behalf of their convictions; and even among them far from all are ready to experience the horror and denigration which Roman Protasevich has now experienced” in Belarus.
He suggests that “the current generation was formed in an era of worldwide humanization, in an era of ‘the softening of habits’ and the stormy spread of European legal guarantees.” People find it hard to imagine that the situation has been reversed so radically or that they must respond if they are to retain any freedom at all.
No one should condemn those who refuse to stand up for their rights, Skobov says. Each must make that choice for himself. But “we all must understand that until a generation ready to make such sacrifices is formed, the repulsive tyranny will not be defeated. And yes, the process of the birth of such a generation will not be pretty.”
“Human life is the highest value, but it will not be worth anything if there aren’t people ready to sacrifice their own lives for the lives of others.” And that means Russians and others need to overcome the widespread assumption that “present-day autocracy is not horrific,” that it isn’t that terrible and can be lived with.
According to Skobov, “people have forgotten to hate evil. We will have to learn to do so all over again.” Tyranny by its very nature isn’t going to soften; it is going to get worse in order to defend itself. And that means people must recognize that hoping that Putin and Lukashenka will share the fate of Milosevich is something normal, even welcome, given what they are.
And that also means that people must reexamine how they view those who justify, approve and support these rulers. “They are rubbish;” and it is long past time to recognize that this is the case. Moreover, just because these people aren’t the fanatics of the 1930s doesn’t mean that they aren’t evil in their cynicism and greed.