According to this article, Russia’s firing up the old Motherland propaganda machine:
In isolation, this is not too alarming, but it seems like another link in a disturbing chain, considering Russia’s recent past. From a dozens of top reporters being killed for revealing ugly truths about corruption in government to that assassination on British soil to the Nasi (who some refer to as “Putin’s Youth”) essentially acting as government sponsored thugs…
I’m no expert at all, but it seems Russia is trying to rally the people into a frenzy of nationalism and xenophobia (remember all that hubbub over Estonia moving a statue?). According to the cited article, 2/3 of older Russian teenagers believe America is an “enemy”, and more than half believe that Stalin was a wise leader.
I wouldn’t put Putin in the Stalin category - yet. I mean, Stalin was responsible for the deaths of millions of people. Until Putin starts shooting people in the head en masse, he’s not in the same league.
But yes, we should be worried. Russia is becoming authoritarian and aggressive. Putin is stepping way over the line by ordering executions in other countries, and he’s clamping down on dissent at home. We don’t know where this will stop yet, but Russia’s on a dangerous path.
My ex-wife is Russian and her family live there (Moscow specifically). I am still in contact with them. It is bad, very, very bad.
I’m not certain what it is in the Russian psyche. It does appear to hold true though that Russians (generality) would rather have a “strong” leader and less freedoms than a “weak” leader and more freedom.
What happens, I wonder, after Putin leaves office? My expectation is that Russia will become like Mexico from 1929 to 2000, a non-totalitarian but authoritarian and corrupt one-party state where each president gets to choose his successor.
But most authoritarian leaders aren’t at the level of Stalin. Hell, Lenin wasn’t at the level of Stalin. Your Stalins, your Hitlers, your Maos are in a different stratum than your ordinary thug authoritarian dictator. Mussolini and Franco weren’t in the same league as Hitler, Brezhnev and even Kruscheve weren’t in the same league as Stalin.
It seems to me that there’s a difference between a dictator who rules in the name of ideology, and a dictator who rules merely for the sake of power. An ideological dictator has no limits, a pragmatic dictator doesn’t try to upset the applecart, he just wants to own the applecart.
Has Putin EVER considered the number of lives lost to Stalin? I’ve read (“THE GREAT TERROR”) that it may be over 12 million people! True, stalin buldozed Russia into a semi-inductrialized country-but a a HUGE cost in lives. And-the waste-Stalin was determined to have nuclear weapons-and the disasters in this effort contaminated thousands of square miles.
Stalin was NO peter the Great!
Try something like 40-50 million. Although I suppose once you cross the 10 million mark its just a matter of, um, statistics. I heard that somewhere once…
If you are interested, I found this old article from Cecil that touches on Stalin and mass murder (other mass murderers as well).
As to the OP, yes, its very disturbing. I’m not sure there is anything we can do about it however…except wait and watch. And hope it doesn’t get as bad as it could. I think eventually the current focus the Russian’s are putting toward the West/US being the enemy will shift to China…which won’t exactly be a good thing.
It seems to me that the discussion is going slightly overboard here. Statements such as Burton’s ‘Putin is as vile as Stalin’ seem to me to be unfounded.
It would be interesting to hear from Meanjoe some specifics as to what his ex-wife means by ‘very very bad’.
Yes, there is a crackdown on the media here. There’s no disputing that.
But looking at the western media (the OP’s link to a Newsweek article) and then drawing conclusions from that seems to me to be very wrong. The Russian media inflates problems in America, quite horribly. The American media, correspondingly, inflates problems in Russia.
There are problems here. But all media can be skewed to provide the viewpoint that government wants it to provide. That’s the way the Russian media do it, giving the impression that American civilization is on the point of meltdown. And that’s the way the American media do it, giving the impression that Russian media is on the brink of mass murder and genocide.
It has been about a year since we’ve discussed internal Russian politics and the general mood of Moscow, etc. I will ask her for an update and try to provide more specific examples.
Some of the things we have talked about in the past:
Government censorship/take over of the media (you mentioned this above).
Putin backed oppression of dissident political parties.
Corruption (which really, has always been there right?).
Curtailing of civil liberties in the name of a strong Russia.
This I agree with entirely and it does make it hard to judge what is being sensationalized and what is not. Even within your own country it can be hard to tell, let alone when the news story is about another country.
I have had some funny conversations with intelligent, educated Russians that have blown my mind with some of the things they believe about America. Likewise, I had many preconceived notions about Russian’s that were shattered after visiting the country (I’ve been several times). My all-time favorite was trying to disabuse someone of the belief that all U.S. Presidents have been Jews. Um… ever heard of John F Kennedy? Haha!
Wasn’t Stalin at heart a powermonger? He crushed any and all (even make-believe) opposition, and it didn’t seem to me like he was doing it for the greater good, just merely to increase his chances of staying in power.
Read Paul Kennedy’s article in the International Herald Tribune - In part; “So the reports from Russia that interest me most… What intrigues me are the broader and more subtle measures being instituted by the Putin regime to enhance national - and, even more, nationalist - pride. They point to something much more purposeful, and potentially quite sinister.
Two examples will have to suffice here: the creation of a patriotic youth movement, and the not-too-subtle rewriting of Russia’s school history books. The youth movement called “Nashi” (it translates as “ours”) is growing fast, encouraged by government agencies determined to instill the right virtues into the next generation and to use this cadre of ultra-Russianists to buttress Putin’s regime against domestic critics.
The policies that Nashi advocates are eclectic. Among the main features are reverence for the Fatherland, respect for the family, Russian traditions and marriage, and a detestation of foreigners; it is hard to tell whether American imperialists, Chechen terrorists, or Estonian ingrates are at the bottom of their list of those who threaten the Russian way of life. Right now, Nashi is training tens of thousands of young diligents; right now, they are in summer camps where they do mass aerobics, discuss “proper” and “corrupt” politics, and receive the necessary education for the struggles to come. Vast numbers have recently been mobilized to harass the British and Estonian ambassadors in Moscow, following Moscow’s disputes with those two countries. According to The Financial Times, Nashi is training 60,000 “leaders” to monitor voting and conduct exit polls in elections this coming December and March. I find this all pretty creepy. “
Not to mention the old school Soviet tactic…
August 21, 2007
Moscow – A member of an opposition group led by the former chess champion Garry Kasparov was released yesterday from a psychiatric clinic after being held against her will for 46 days, a spokeswoman for the group said.
Larisa Arap, 48, a member of Mr. Kasparov’s group in the northern port city of Murmansk, was forcefully taken to the clinic July 5 in what opposition activists said was revenge for exposing alleged abuse of children in a local psychiatric hospital.
Her case was taken up by human-rights defenders, who saw in it echoes of the Soviet-era practice of locking up dissidents in psychiatric hospitals.