Saturday, April 20, 2024

Kremlin’s Talk about ‘Genocide of Soviet People’ has Far Reaching Consequences, Pakhalyuk Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 15 – Since 2020, Putin has been talking about “the genocide of the Soviet people” during World War II and thus promoting the idea that Russians were not just the leading victor over Nazism but the most significant victim of Hitler’s aggression, Ukrainian historian Konstantin Pakhalyuk says.

            That idea has had far-reaching consequences, not only prompting Moscow to return to Soviet era denials that Russians were behind the executions of Polish officers but also leading to a downgrading in Russia of the Holocaust and the elevation of Russia as victim as well as victor (

            But the central goal of this propagandistic theme, Pakhalyuk argues is “to make Russians think that in history, that is, ‘always,’ the Russian state has been and is right and that any suggestion of an alternative is slander,” something that makes honest discussion of the past impossible and makes unqualified support for Putin and his actions necessary.

            In his article, the historian traces the way in which Russia moved from denial about Katyn in Soviet times, to acknowledgement of Moscow’s role between 1990 and 2010, and then again to denial, with a new burst of effort in the latter direction since Putin began his expanded war in Ukraine.

            But those who follow the twists and turns of Moscow’s discussion of Katyn must not treat them in isolation from these broader goals, he argues. Instead, they must see them as part of a propagandistic effort designed to transform Russians into the unqualified executors of anything the Kremlin orders, confident that the Russian state will defend them no matter what they do.

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