Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Officials in Russia Not Only Minimizing Great Terror but Focusing Only on Deaths among Elites rather than in the Population, Yasaveyev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Aug. 16 – Putin’s war in Ukraine has allowed Russian officials to reduce still further the attention they did pay to the Great Terror of the late 1930s just as World War II allowed Stalin to turn the page on that crime. But that is not the only and perhaps not the worst part of this shift.

            According to IdelReal commentator Iskander Yasaveyev, some officials are now retreating to Khrushchev’s approach which was to mention the victims of the Great Terror in the top elite rather than to express concern about the impact of that horror on the Soviet population as a whole (idelreal.org/a/31982158.html).

            He gives as an example of this a recent article by Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov who when talking about “the repressions of the 1930s” spoke only about “prominent officials of the Tatarstan Republic” and not about the mass murders and incarcerations the Great Terror involved (president.tatarstan.ru/index.htm/news/1755665.htm).

            Moreover, Minnikhanov mentioned these crimes only in the context of the improvement of the economic situation in the republic and in preparation for a possible war. As far as that war was concerned, Minnikhanov devoted far more attention to it than he did to the Great Terror and its victims.

            In some ways this is hardly surprising given the increasingly tough stratification of Russian society under Putin and the Kremlin leader’s push to promote a positive image of Stalin as a wartime leader and whitewash his crimes against the population and the fact that his war in Ukraine provides an additional opportunity to do so.

            But as Yasaveyev points out, “the abruptness, incompleteness and inconspicuousness of the memory of repressions all reflect that Russia is again at war and Tatarstan is a participant. The values of human life and freedom are still not a priority in Russia and Tatarstan, and some people still kill others” and feel justified in doing so.

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