Tuesday, February 27, 2024

On 80th Anniversary of Deportation of Chechens and Ingush, Moscow's Genocide of These Nations Continues

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 23 – The deportation of the Chechens and Ingush from their ancestral homelands on February 23, 1944 and the lies the Soviet government told about what it was doing are so horrific that it is easy to lose sight of something at least as significant: This act of genocide against these two peoples is tragically continuing.

            Genocide, the destruction of an ethnic community, usually involves mass murder and deportation. But it can take a variety of forms, all intended to destroy those against whom the powers that be deploy not only force but propaganda. And using this broader definition, it is obvious that the Putin regime is continuing the genocide that Stalin launched in 1944.

            As commentator Milana Ochirova observes, even today, 80 years after the deportation, the Russian authorities and their agents within the Chechen and Ingush peoples are tying to “erase” the memory of the tragedy and thus to erase part of their national existence (novayagazeta.eu/articles/2024/02/23/ne-slomimsia-ne-zaplachem-ne-prostim).

            And what is worse, she continues, is that this act of national destruction by propaganda appears to be intensifying, with the situation having gotten worse over the entire course of Putin’s rule and become especially horrific since the Kremlin leader began his expanded war against Ukraine two years ago.

            An indication of this was a draft school history textbook prepared by Vladimir Medinsky and Anatoly Torkunov (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/09/putins-new-history-textbook-sparks.html). It repeated the Stalinist lie that these nations were deported because they collaborated and sought to excuse his actions by saying others had deported peoples as well.

            That sparked outrage in the North Caucasus, and Moscow was forced to back down and offer an amended and less offensive and tendentious description of what had happened (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/10/moscow-promises-to-change-paragraph-on.html). That Kremlin retreat has obscured what else Moscow has been doing.

            Not only did the original draft go out to many schools across the Russian Federation but the amended version did not stop Moscow from taking steps against the efforts of Chechens, Ingush and other people of good willing from remembering the horrors of 1944 and pledging that such things will never be repeated.

            Monuments to the tragedy have been destroyed, conferences about the deportation have been cancelled or disrupted, and even the date of commemoration which should be on February 23 was changed in Chechnya by Ramzan Kadyrov lest it offend Moscow on the Russian Defenders of the Fatherland holiday.

            One 26-year-old Ingush language teacher provides a telling detail of just how far the Putin regime is prepared to go. After the fall of Soviet power, television, radio and schools on February 23rd were filled with stories about the deportation. “But the situation changed after the start of the war in Ukraine.”

            Teachers were told, she continues, that it was wrong to talk about the deportation and that instead they should speak on the anniversary of the 1944 deportations only about “’the heroism of participants in the special military operation.’” Last year, they thought this was a case of overfulfilling the plan. But that prohibition has continued and clearly reflects Kremlin policy.

            Consequently, on the 80th anniversary of the deportation, it is critically important for everyone of good will to speak in defense of the maintenance of memory of that event and to recognize that Putin in his regime are in effect continuing it by trying to suppress that memory and thus to destroy the nations who want to remember.

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