Staunton, March 1 – Either because the incursion in Bryansk Oblast was a completely controlled provocation by the FSB or because the Moscow security services want to use that event for the larger purpose of mobilizing the Russian population, some in the Russian capital have drawn analogies between Bryansk now and the Lokot Republic during World War II.
That reference has been picked up by some Western journalists without a full appreciation of what the Lokot Republic in fact was and why Russian commentators almost certainly are referring to it in the present context. (For a Russian reference, see iarex.ru/news/89353.html; for a discussion of it, see region.expert/lokot-fake/.)
To understand why Russian propagandists are invoking the Lokot Republic now, one needs to know both something about what that little-known and short-lived institution was and how Soviet propagandists used it in the past to discredit Russian regional groups by tying them to outside invaders.
The Lokot Autonomy or Lokot Republic was set up by the Germany army in July 1942 and lasted until August 1943. It consisted of Russians who were prepared to collaborate with the German invaders. Some Russians, however, viewed it then and now as a proto-Russian state in opposition to Moscow, but it was intended to make things easier for the German invaders.
The forces of this entity, which included portions of Bryansk, Oryol and Kursk oblasts, helped hunt down anti-German Soviet partisans, killed Jews and others targeted by the Nazis, and slavishly followed German orders. (See Igor Yermolov and Sergey Drobyazko, “Anti-Partisan Republic” (Moscow, 2001; at ostbataillon.fromru.com/antipartisan1.htm).
While the Lokot Republic has received only minimal attention in Western studies of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, Soviet and Russian writers have often played it up to suggest that any ethnic Russian challenge to Moscow occurs only under the sponsorship of Western enemies of the Russian state.
Such coverage has thus been an important component in the attacks on General Vlasov and the Russian troops who fought against the Soviet Union. Perhaps the most prominent use of Lokot came in 1959 when Anatoly Ivanov published his novel, The Eternal Call, that became a popular television series in Soviet times (imdb.com/title/tt0331802/).
The references to the Lokot
Republic in the context of the Bryansk attacks are part and parcel of the same
thing. Those who pick up on them should remember this background and see such references as an effort by the Kremlin today to discredit any Russian challenge to Moscow and especially a regionally-based one.