Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Further Popularization of Stalin Limited by Putin Elite’s Fear that Russians Will Compare Its Members with Him, Danila Medvedev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 8 – Given the reappearance of Stalin monuments across the country, many fear that the re-Stalinization of the country will continue unabated; but futurologist Danila Medvedev says that isn’t likely because any further popularization of the late dictator will cause Russians to compare current elite with him and turn on them.

            That is because they will see something fundamental: Stalin achieved great things at horrible cost; but the current elite is repressive but is achieving very little and consists of the kinds of people Stalin would have executed or sent to the camps (business-gazeta.ru/article/609603).

            That is just one of the positions Kazan’s Business-Gazeta found in its survey of expert opinion about the new wave of interest in and support for the late dictator, their views on the extent to which Stalin is part and parcel of Russia’s DNA, and on how the horrors of the past can be integrated into Russian thinking rather than repeated.

            Among the most important of their observations on these points are the following:

·       Svyatoslav Rybas, a biographer of Stalin, says that “the more we try to discredit Stalin, the weaker the position of the present-day state.”

·       Boris Bezhuyev, a philosopher, says that current efforts at rehabilitating Stalin lay the foundations not for a rebirth of repression but the appearance of pogroms. “Repressions of the Stalinist type are now impossible; for that a revolutionary wave is needed ... but as far as pogroms are concerned, they are completely possible.” He adds that the popularity of Stalin for many is rooted in “hated for the West and the pro-Western element in society” and these are the likely targets of pogroms.

·       Robert Nigmatulin, a scholar at the Institute of Oceanography, says that “the authority of Stalin for a significant part of popular consciousness is very high and always will be.” The minuses of his rule are forgotten; and his achievements are celebrated.

·       Ilya Grashchenko, a political scientist, suggests that what Russia needs is a balanced understanding of Stalin, a man of great achievements but horrific actions.

·       Maksim Kalashnikov, a futurologist, says that “the majority of residents of the Russian Federation long ago recognized Stalin as part of history in all its contradictoriness.” But the country’s elite isn’t prepared for that lest people view its members in a similar way.

·       Alfiya Gallyamova, a scholar at the Kazan Institute of History, says that present-day Russia is deeply split and the divide about Stalin reflects that.

·       Yury Alayev, a Tatarstan journalist, says that the rehabilitation of Stalin is all tied up with the centrality the current regime has given to victory in the Great Fatherland War. Because Stalin mattered so much in that, the Kremlin has no choice but to boost him publicly.

·       Ayrat Farrakhov, a Duma deputy from Tatarstan, says that the genes of Stalin are part of Russia’s DNA but that no one must allow a repetition of what he did. At the same time, he says that he “doubts that his popularity will increase and intensify.” There are always people who worship power but there are also always those who fear what such power can do.

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