Staunton, Mar. 16 – Eight years ago, the notorious Russian commentator Andrannik Migranyan was excoriated by all people of good will when he argued that the world must distinguish between what he claimed was the “good” Hitler up to the invasion of Poland and the “bad” one after that (izvestia.ru/news/568603).
Now something similar is happening in the Russian commentariat with regard to Putin as the Hitler of today, with some saying he was a progressive leader until he invaded Ukraine and only then became someone who should be vilified as Hitler was and is. Moscow commentator Vadim Zaydman has taken the lead in denouncing such dangerous nonsense.
In a Grani commentary, he argues that “Putin had already become Hitler when he razed Grozny to the country, when Chechen schools, hospitals and maternity wards were destroyed, when soldiers of the Russian army slaughtered the inhabitants of Chechen villages” (graniru.org/blogs/free/entries/284719.html).
“Even then, a comparison of Putin with Hitler was no figure of speech, a metaphor, an exaggeration or an attempt to offend,” Zaydman says. “Putin was already Hitler in the most literal sense.” And in one way he even “surpassed Hitler.” Putin blew up houses in which Russians were peacefully sleeping, something even Hitler didn’t do with Germans.
According to Zaydman, “Putin is absolute and pure evil. And he has been that from the very beginning of his time in power. It is very sad that no one understood this;” but finally today, “humanity is reaping the fruits of this failure of understanding, this failure of its own blindness” to what Putin has been all along.
Zaydman’s anger has been sparked in particular by opposition Russian politician Leonid Gozman who argues that by invading Ukraine, Putin has destroyed all the positive things he achieved earlier (facebook.com/leonid.gozman.77/posts/4945083058919895) and by Ukrainian commentator Vitaly Portnikov who argues that with the invasion, Putin became Hitler in the literal and not just metaphorical sense (graniru.org/opinion/portnikov/m.284691.html).
The Moscow commentator could easily have pointed to many others who have overlooked “the genocide in Chechnya, the Kursk incident, the Nord-Ost bombing, Beslan, an infinite number of political murders in Russia and abroad, the Georgian campaign, the annexation of Crimean, LNR/DNR, and the bombing of Syria.”
The author of these lines very much hopes that Putin is removed from office and is faces charges before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and crimes against war, but he fears that Putin may remain in power, especially if people are willing to write off Ukraine as an aberration as they have done so often in other cases.
As Zaydman points out, what Putin is doing in Ukraine is consistent with his whole vision and modus operandi. It is no exception to the rule but rather an example of that rule, and it is long past time for the international community to wake up to that reality rather than come up with some new defense to justify its past blindness or desire to cooperate with the Kremlin.