Stalinism, again

There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about the alleged rehabilitation of Josef Stalin’s reputation in Russia. The latest event to generate fears of a revived Stalinism is the appointment last week of a new education minister, Olga Vasilyeva. Vasilyeva is a historian of the Russian Orthodox Church who has been criticized for making supposedly positive comments about the Stalin era.  The Moscow Times cites a Moscow teacher, Tamara Eidelman, as complaining that, ‘Vasilyeva’s appointment is a sign of the general atmosphere in the country toward faux patriotism and Stalinism. And that, sadly, will of course also impact schools.’

Two comments in particular by Vasilyeva have drawn attention. First, she remarked that, as found by archival research, the number of people repressed in the Stalin era was not as great as reported in the journal Ogonyok in the glasnost era. Second, she commented that the Soviet Union had viewed national history and patriotism very negatively until the early 1930s, but following a speech by Stalin in 1931 matters changed, and the Soviet authorities began to encourage patriotic sentiments and restored the teaching of history in universities.

This hardly makes Vasilyeva a Stalinist. First, she is correct in saying that archival research in the 1980s and 1990s revised the numbers killed in Stalin’s repressions decidedly downwards, from the 20 million claimed by Robert Conquest in his book The Great Terror to a figure now generally accepted by historians of about 800,000 executed between 1921 and 1953 (of whom 700,000 were killed in 1937-38), plus 6-7 million who perished in the  famine of 1932-33, and perhaps 100,000 who died in the deportations of Chechens and other nationalities in 1944. These numbers are still horrific, but clearly not as large as previously claimed. Second, Vasilyeva is correct in pointing out that the Soviet government’s attitude changed in the 1930s, becoming decidedly more favourably inclined towards patriotism. This was part of what some historians call the ‘Great Retreat’, which saw the Soviet Union turning its back on revolutionary ideas and becoming more conservative in attitude. Whether this was a good thing is, of course, a value judgement; and even if it was, it shouldn’t be used to water down the crimes of the Stalin era. But the basic facts are right.

It is also worth noting that while Vasilyeva has praised the rehabilitation of the Orthodox Church in the last decade of Stalin’s life, she has also denounced Stalin’s repression of the Church prior to that. According to one article she wrote:

In summer 1937, by Stalin’s command, an order was given to shoot all the confessors who were in prison or in camps within four months. … One by one the hierarchs were killed, crowning their deeds as Confessor-Martyrs by shedding their blood for Christ. … The year of the “Great Purge” and the following year 1938 were the hardest for the clergy and laymen—200,000 repressed and 100,000 executed. Every second priest was shot. … But the Orthodox Church put up a strong resistance to the totalitarian regime.

Vasilyeva is said to be a conservative of an Orthodox, nationalist bent. Reading between the lines, it appears fairly clear that she regards positively the conservative turn taken by Stalin in the 1930s in the era of the ‘Great Retreat’. I think that here we face a very difficult issue in Russian historical memory. Must one condemn the Stalin era completely, in every respect? Or is it acceptable to pick out some positive features, while condemning the rest? I don’t think that there are easy answers. It is, to a certain extent, a matter of tone, degree, and context. In this respect, Vasilyeva’s comments are very different to those of Stalin apologists such as, say, Nikolai Starikov. Vasilyeva is also factually correct in a way that Starikov is not. Certainly, there are grounds to question whether the appointment of a conservative Church historian to the position of education minister is appropriate, and to wonder to what extent Vasilyeva will try to impose her views on the education system. But talking about Stalinism doesn’t per se make one a Stalinist.

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46 thoughts on “Stalinism, again”

  1. Every country burnishes its history to some extent. A good portion of the US Founding Fathers were slavers and the rest signed on to a document that institutionalized slavery as the law of the land. Then there were the Indian wars, and “the Great White Father that speaks with a forked tongue” when it came to standing by the treaties when it became “inconvenient.” How many lost their lives or were brutalized in the course of the development of the US is generally swept under the rug. And it
    is not even over yet. Let those living in glass houses not throw stones.

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  2. What Tom Hickey said. This also reminds me of the time I spend in Mongolia: there, of course, Genghis Khan is the national hero. Chinggis Khan International Airport! 40-meter-tall statue! Huge memorial complexes! Wild popularity! Yeah, so? Where’s the outrage?

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    1. More so – there is Bohdan Khmielnitsky monument in the center of Kiev. I mean – how totalitarian and unfair to Ukraine’s Jewish and Polish minorities! Surely, Ukraine must also start begging forgiveness on its knees for the misdeeds of their ancestreal cossack separatists (against the legitimate Polish masters) and for 200 000 pogromed Jews in that period.

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  3. Mmm…

    1) “800,000 executed between 1921 and 1953 (of whom 700,000 were killed in 1937-38)” – no doubt all shot personally by Stalin, who was sole ruler and source of all decisions from 1921 to 1953.

    2) “plus 6-7 million who perished in the famine of 1932-33” – since when Russian famines are Stalin’s fault? And it’s over 8 millions but numbers here are highly unreliable.

    3) “100,000 who died in the deportations of Chechens and other nationalities in 1944” – difference with FDR’s treatment of Americans with Japanese blood? Bloody tyrant FDR and his crimes against humanity anyone?

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    1. I don’t know about your #2, but in regard to #1, is anyone suggesting these people were “shot personally by Stalin”? If not, why mention it?

      As for #3, Japanese internment was condemned and compensated by Congress some time ago:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Liberties_Act_of_1988

      But again, what is the point of bringing it up? I would expect the Russian education minister to deal with the history of Russia, not of other countries. That’s her job, isn’t it?

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      1. “As for #3, Japanese internment was condemned and compensated by Congress some time ago:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Liberties_Act_of_1988

        “In 1988. 1988, Karl!” (c)

        How not to quote another famous pharase, allegedly said by S. Lavrov: “Who you are to […] lecture us?”

        When F.D. R signed into act the decision to put into the internment camps “Americans of Japanese descent” (c. 120 000, of whom about 62% were US citizens) even is their relatives were fighting on the frontlines at the moment. The funniest thing of all – the Supreme Court ruled in 1944 that this was 100% kosher (i.e. “according to the Constitution”). That’s the same august institution, that basically legalized gay marriages in the US recently. Should we throw a pale of doubt, a shadow of nonobjectivity on such vital pillar of the Republic, who approves this heineous act in the past?

        And, knowing what a charming bellicose Russophobe you are, Estragen – are you saying that the deported people and their descendants were/are no compenstated by Russia?

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      2. ” Btw – are you Chechen?” My ethnic origin is not relevant.

        But thanks for the information. Are you in agreement with the law “On rehabilitation of repressed people”? Do you believe that the Soviet government was correct to pass it?

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      3. ” My ethnic origin is not relevant.”

        On the contrary! it’s very relevant, especially when we are speaking about Russia. You seem to understand (i.e. read and get the gist of) Russian. There are not that many ethinicities that can do that, who also can couple that with a your level of Russophobia. Are you a Sovok Jew, Kravietz, now free to express your kvetching into a new, cosmic level? Or just an emmigre who tries to convice zhe-self, that GTFO from That Country was the best thing ever – plus 300 types of sausege? Or are you a Polack, an ever butthurt over the historical injustice that bloody Rooskies managed into relevance, while you – not? Or you are a svidomite, one of the InterSALO movement stretching from the province of Ontario to Zhmerinka, faithful net-warriors of the Invincible Ukrainian State?

        See? I just explained how origins really matters!

        On rehabilitation of repressed people”? Do you believe that the Soviet government was correct to pass it?

        I consider Gorbachev a traitor (at least), and the vast majority of legislative and other initiatives under hims to be counter to what was the USSR (i.e. – “counter-revolutionary activity”, de-facto – “neo-Bukharinite” putch). The way how massive rehabilitations were conducted under later Gorabachev’s “rule” was nothing but an orgy of triumphant liberastia, that had nothing in common with law or history.

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      4. “define “pro-Putin pragmatist”. – Generally respectful of Putin’s approach of defending Russian sovereignty, and promoting economic and social improvements while being skeptical of Marxism, ethnic nationalism, and other “isms.”

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      5. Lyttenburgh already answered you about #3, and although I would have done it a bit differently let’s leave it at that.

        As for #1, there is popular internet meme about “billions personally shot by Stalin” ridiculing all the bs about repressions. In this particular context it meant that it is funny to be so hellbent on putting all the blame on Stalin for everything, from natural disasters to actual crimes. Structure and responsibility of repressions over long period of time is complicated, and blame cannot be pinned down to one person.

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      6. “Lyttenburgh already answered you about #3, and although I would have done it a bit differently let’s leave it at that.”

        I’m honestly (like not in agressively suspicious way) curioys – how different?

        “As for #1, there is popular internet meme about “billions personally shot by Stalin””

        World-famous Soviet dissident, defender of human rights and the Warrior of Light (For Our and Your’s Freedom – and for grants) Lev Nathanovich Sharansky long time ago named the true number of the innocent victims of the Bloody Regime – 1 billion 760 millions. His perfect methodology is on par with the one employed by Solzhenytsin, Beevor and Conquest, and, therefore, is 100% reliable! Because one has to live not by a lie. ТакЪ победим!

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    2. “are you saying that the deported people and their descendants were/are no compenstated by Russia?”

      If you mean Chechens specifically, no, I’m not. Were they?

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      1. Tsk. How predictable! Btw – are you Chechen? Who are you, Estragon?

        18 October 1991 (that’s it – while the USSR still existed) a law “On rehabilitation of repressed people” had been passed and established a monetary compensation for that. Further additions to the law expanded the amount of compensations to include discount when paying for utilities, free installation of the telephone at home, free passage while using the public transportation, higher priority when received in the public health insitutuions etc, etc, etc.

        As for compensating Chechens in the first place… There are 2 types of internment – preventative or punitive. Chechens (and many others) got deported because of the collaboration with Nazi Germany. Americans of Japanese descent were interned because they did nothing, but were of inconvenient ethnicity.

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      2. “Chechens were deported because they collaborated with Germans”

        This is interesting, so let’s stop here for a second. From around 100k Chechen population back then there were maybe 2k men who served in German army. And there was around 1m Russians who served in Vlasov army so it would make sense to deport Russians as well using the same logic.

        Re: Liza – back in that thread, you denied any Russian government engagement in the scandal. The same with usage of term “banderastan” etc by Russian media. You were proven wrong in both cases and you disappeared but apparently kept the offence up to now, taking into account your aggressive tone.

        But in fact there’s nothing wrong with saying “ok maybe, I didn’t know about that”, really. Not to mention simply saying “sorry” for these “Pollack” insults that really don’t match this place (and the person).

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      3. “This is interesting, so let’s stop here for a second. From around 100k Chechen population back then there were maybe 2k men who served in German army. And there was around 1m Russians who served in Vlasov army so it would make sense to deport Russians as well using the same logic.”

        “Collaboration” does not include only serving in enemy’s military – it means (wait for it!) actively collaborating, aiding and supporting enemy’s occupational administration. Chechens did that. Crimean tatars as well.

        We are talking about tightly living people here, nearly 100% of whose lands were under Nazi occupation. Was 100% of Russians populated territories under occupation? No. Were there Russian collaborators? Yes – and they got what they deserved. Not only those who served in Vlasov army. This is where the logic lies.

        “Re: Liza – back in that thread, you denied any Russian government engagement in the scandal. The same with usage of term “banderastan” etc by Russian media. You were proven wrong in both cases and you disappeared but apparently kept the offence up to now, taking into account your aggressive tone.”

        You proved nothing, and, yes, I was AFC for a long period, so I couldn’t comment. You failed to prove that Russian “state” media uses (or used to some big extent) the term “banderastan”. You failed to prove that it was all due to pesky Kremlin’s meddling that people took to the streets during Liza’s controversy. If something said by Russian officials is “engagement” or “involvemnt”, then US of A are actively involved in the interior affairs of all the world.

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      4. Around 2k out of 100k Chechens did directly support German army in Chechnya during the occupation. 92k did not even though their lives fully depended on the occupiers, thanks to the military genius of Joseph Stalin by the way.

        Regarding Liza – technically, it wasn’t “Liza’s controversy” but Liza’s fake. And quite blatant by the way. And the foreign affairs minister of RF actively pumped it up which is precisely why I enjoy this story so much.

        I realize you’re in the information war mode now but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting you didn’t know something. For example, you obviously didn’t know about the Lavrov interview, not to mention its contents. I think you are taking the popular русские не сдаются proverb too seriously here, but it’s not really helping in life. Our president presented similar approach when flying to Smolensk and look how it ended.

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      5. “Around 2k out of 100k Chechens did directly support German army in Chechnya during the occupation. “

        Oh, read a book, will you? Judging from your past comments I know about your aversio to reading, but, just once, make an effort over yourself. The number of collaborationists is much, much bigger than 2 000. What about all those bandits and gangstes, who attacked civillians and soldiers even before the Nazis came to Chechnya? What about deserters and draft-dodgers, cowards and turncoats?

        In this note (sent directly to Beria) penned by the commisar Bogdan Kobulov this is said about the criminal situation in the “freedom loving” North Caucasus:

        “«Отношение чеченцев и ингушей к Советской власти наглядно выразилось в дезертирстве и уклонении от призыва в ряды Красной Армии.
        При первой мобилизации в августе 1941 г. из 8000 человек, подлежащих призыву, дезертировало 719 человек.
        В октябре 1941 г. из 4733 человек 362 уклонилось от призыва.
        В январе 1942 г. при комплектовании национальной дивизии удалось призвать лишь 50 процентов личного состава.
        В марте 1942 г. из 14 576 человек дезертировало и уклонилось от службы 13 560 человек, которые перешли на нелегальное положение, ушли в горы и присоединились к бандам.
        В 1943 году из 3000 добровольцев число дезертиров составило 1870 человек».

        – Б.З.Кобулов. Докладная записка „О положении в районах Чечено-Ингушской АССР

        And this is just one report, about 1941-43 period! Already more than 17 000 of desreters/draft dodgers who ought to be judged according to the necessities of the war period. And because quite often these deserters found no better place to hide than their own homes, their families were also complicit.

        From june 22 1941 till late december of 1944 there were in Checheno-Ingush ASSR 421 bandit attack (art 52 deals with that) including:

        – Attacks and murder of Red Armies personel or NKVD troopers – 88
        – Attacks and murder of Party and Soviet workers – 81
        – Attacks and robberies of the state and kolkhoz enterprises – 69
        – Robberies and manslaughter – 183.

        This places Chechya and Ingushetiya on the second place in the rating of most banditry affected regions of the USSR (the 1st one was Lithuania)

        As the result of these attacks by “peaceful, innocent Chechens” 116 person lost their lives. Later, Red Army and NKVD had to fight and liquidate these bands – 197 in total. 657 bandits were killed, 2762 captured and 1113 turn themselves in. For comparison – only about 2300 Chechens *and* Ingushes lost their lives on the frontlines fighting for the Soviet Union. But, hey – these bandits and their helpers were surely innocent victims, right?

        And what about various “parties” set up just prior and during Nazi occupation? What about a curious case of Khasan Islailov aka “Terloyev”. A lawyer, excellent education… and the founder of anti-Soviet Chechen underground terroristic group (Особая Партия Кавказских Братьев, ОПКБ), which planned to start the rebellion in early 1942, hoping to “link” with advancing Wermacht units. Some of their members got too eger and began the revolt with attacks on kolkhozes in late October 1941, naively thinking that Hitler-liberator will come to their aid. OPKB was spread though 250 auls and numbered at least 5000 active members. What – they are also innocent victims?

        In November 1941 had been created “Чечено-горская национал-социалистическая подпольная организация” under Mairbek Sheripov (arrested in 1938 for the anti-Soviet propaganda, released by murderous ghouls from NKVD in 1939 due to the lack of evidence). They launched their insurgency in august 1942 and was acive till November 1942.

        But in October 1942 German officer Rekkert and his sobotage group got into Chechnya and began stirring up yet another revolt. They were liquidated in late 1943. But there were many, many more saboteur groups like his. And Chechens didn’t acquited themselves in the best way while dealing with them

        Chechens were not so numerous in Wermacht – because they prefered banditry and deserted at grea number from everywhere.

        “92k did not even though their lives fully depended on the occupiers, thanks to the military genius of Joseph Stalin by the way.”

        If you are saying that this happened directly due to Stalin’s action, then you have, therefore, also recognize the victory in the War as Stalin’s personal achievement.

        “Regarding Liza – technically, it wasn’t “Liza’s controversy” but Liza’s fake. And quite blatant by the way. And the foreign affairs minister of RF actively pumped it up which is precisely why I enjoy this story so much.”

        “Enjoy”? Tsk, what a life you have, kravietz. Ever tried to enjoy something other for a change?

        “I realize you’re in the information war mode now but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting you didn’t know something. “

        I still wait for the direct quotes from the official, “Kremlin run” media, that call Ukrajian – “Banderastan”.

        ” Our president presented similar approach when flying to Smolensk and look how it ended.”

        They all – what was this charming term PiS uses all the time? Ah, yes – they “poliegli”. Putin killed – true story ™!

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      6. Chechya and Ingushetiya on the second place in the rating of most banditry affected regions of the USSR (the 1st one was Lithuania)

        Look, no one forced bolsheviks to join these republics into USSR. First you annex a country, and then complain they don’t like you and desert from your army – and then collectively punish 100k – how Soviet…

        this happened directly due to Stalin’s action

        Stalin’s purges definitely helped disarm Red Army prior to the German attack, just as did his disbelief in Sorge’s reports. It’s not his personal responsibility but the whole Central Commitee, composed of people equally paranoid as Stalin. Their approach after the famous “brothers and sisters” speech has definitely changed and allowed to win the war (with large help from Allies) but it didn’t last too long 😦

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      7. “Look, no one forced bolsheviks to join these republics into USSR. First you annex a country, and then complain they don’t like you and desert from your army – and then collectively punish 100k – how Soviet…”

        These “countries” were “annexed” long time ago by Imperial Russia. In the Civil War Chechens were killing and robbing both Reds and Whites – because they were Russians. They were also killing and robbing their own neighbors – Lezgins, Ossetians, Kabardinians, even Georgians and Ingushs. Because they could get away with that. Damned Bolsheviks (and before them – damned Czarists) put an end for that in early 1920s. See that? Early 1920s – 1941. In that time Chechens benefited – directly – from the Soviet system. A lot of them became communists and reached previously unthinkably high positions both in local and central government.

        System of collective punishment was not invented by Bolsheviks – it’s been used by Russian forces since Caucasus wars of 19th c. It worked. Any attempt to play nice didn’t work, ergo the return to collective responsibility. At the same time Chechens didn’t share the fate of Tasmanians, treated most graciously and civilized by the Brits, or any other tribe of the North America, subjected to democracy and liberty at a gun-point of the USA. Maybe that’s why the Westies don’t consider us, Russians, civilized enough – we are less prone to genocide?

        Don’t like Stalin’s decision on deporation and collective responsibility? Fine! Let’s do it by the Book. And according to the Book all deserters, draft dodgers, bandits, collaborators with occupiers, members of underground separatist and terrorist organization ought to be shot in accordance to the law of the war time. All who knew but didn’t report them – lengthy prison sentences. Would you prefer that, kravietz?

        “Stalin’s purges definitely helped disarm Red Army prior to the German attack, just as did his disbelief in Sorge’s reports. It’s not his personal responsibility but the whole Central Commitee, composed of people equally paranoid as Stalin.

        Constantly perpetuated bullshit that needs to die in fire.

        Once again – was Stalin (and Politburo) also responsible for the Victory or not?

        Your final sentence is too incoherent to even comment on it.

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    3. Re: “On the contrary! [etc.]”
      This is funny, as you seem to have confused me with someone else. My name isn’t Kravietz, and I don’t come from any of the ethnic backgrounds you list.

      As to my alleged “level of Russophobia,” I’m basically a pro-Putin pragmatist, so I guess this makes Putin a Russophobe. But this blog is not about me, so this will be my last word on the subject.

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      1. He’s apparently talking about me. Not sure why I earned so much of his affection but apparently this was related to an old comment on Sergey Lavrov he chose not to respond to. And yes, I’m Polish and never have hidden that. In my case accussations of russophobia aren’t very much justified as I have long personal ties to Russia and love the country and the people.

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      2. 2Kravietz

        Answer what? “Наша девочка” =\= claiming that Liza was 100% Russian, or Rusian citizen or anything like that.

        ” I have long personal ties to Russia and love the country and the people.”

        I won’t even pretend to believe you.

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  4. I was wondering what might be the fuller context of Vasilyeva’s comments, and hoping someone would be able to provide it. Thanks for doing so. It will be interesting to follow Vasilyeva’s further impact on Russia’s educational system.

    On a completely different subject, I wonder, Paul, if you saw the story on JRL the other day (re-print from the NYTs) about the cultural renaissance in Perm, which, the Times writes, was derailed by the Kremlin. The article seemed similarly somewhat lacking in context.

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  5. “The latest event to generate fears of a revived Stalinism is the appointment last week of a new education minister, Olga Vasilyeva… who has been criticized for making supposedly positive comments about the Stalin era. The Moscow Times cites a Moscow teacher, Tamara Eidelman, as complaining that, ‘Vasilyeva’s appointment is a sign of the general atmosphere in the country toward faux patriotism and Stalinism. And that, sadly, will of course also impact schools.’”

    Azokhen-vey! Gevalt-gevalt! Horror, horror. “Пора валить” (тм) [nods]

    “…from the 20 million claimed by Robert Conquest in his book The Great Terror to a figure now generally accepted by historians of about 800,000 executed between 1921 and 1953 (of whom 700,000 were killed in 1937-38)…”

    All innocent victims of the Bloody Regime! I mean, they were revolting/conspiring against and killing dirty commies – which makes them heroes of the Great Western Cause by default.

    “plus 6-7 million who perished in the famine of 1932-33”

    Very debatable – more like 3-5, of which 1.5-2 mils were in the Ukraine (and not every single victim was racial ethnic Ukr)

    “and perhaps 100,000 who died in the deportations of Chechens and other nationalities in 1944”

    Again – first, very debatable number, and, second, the “victims” were far from blameless… unless we accept that fighting against godless bolsheviks buys you a life-time pardon of all possible sins.

    “Vasilyeva is said to be a conservative of an Orthodox, nationalist bent.”

    The word you are failing to use here – “patriotic”. Or, what – only American waffens can be “Patriots”?

    “Must one condemn the Stalin era completely, in every respect?”

    If you are handshakable person – yes. Moreso – you must condemn ALL Russian history, for not beign the (largely whitewashed/redacted) history of any given Enightened Western Nation ™.

    “Certainly, there are grounds to question whether the appointment of a conservative Church historian to the position of education minister is appropriate”

    Only liberasts are worried whether or not she is a “hidden Stalinist” or “fanatical Orthodox”. Normal Russians (as was demonstated during the Aug 30 direct line with her) are worried about:

    – The cost of supposedly “free education” (those who didn’t study in Russian schools after ’91 won’t know that – *I* know)
    – Teachers salaries.
    – The reform (or abolition) of the ЕГЭ.

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  6. I once did a very simple research, a poll to find out the ratio of people who have lost direct relatives in WWII to those who lost relatives to the Stalin’s purges. There was about 6x difference in replies plus negligible overlap.
    Given 28 million officially lost in WWII, a simple model gave me about 2Mln deaths to the purges.

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  7. The reference in the article to “famine in 1932-33” in the Soviet Union appears to be refer to the accusation that the Soviet Union government deliberately perpetrated a famine in Ukraine in those two years, what is termed the ‘Holodomor’ by Ukrainian nationalist accusers. The accusation does not square with the research of historians, notably that of professor Mark Tauger of West Virginia University. https://www.newcoldwar.org/category/famines-in-the-soviet-union/ Among the facts which confront proponents of ‘Holodomor’ theory is that many areas in the Soviet Union were struck by food shortages and even famine in 1932-33. Historians examine a variety of factors which caused those famines, including drought conditions, the low productivity of agricultural production in the Soviet Union (though that was improving during the 1930s), the still-low level of agricultural science and the severe disruptions and alienation of food producers (peasants) caused by the government program of collectivization of agricultural lands and production.

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    1. I attended an academic conference of once at which Tauger spoke. While he made some interesting points, he lost me and the rest of the audience when he said that Stalin was a friend of the peasants. He pushes things too far. I think that there is a fairly general consensus among historians that, whatever natural causes there may have been worsening the situation, the famine was artificially induced.

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      1. “…whatever natural causes there may have been worsening the situation, the famine was artificially induced.”

        Its the first time when I heard of such “consensus” existing anywhere but the Ukraine. So far, this “irrefutable proof of Stalin induced famine” ™ belongs to the realm of svidomite fantasies.

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    1. Only Professor Robinson don’t say who “artificially induced” it. I might even agree – to a degree – with this statement, will he go an extra mile adding “artificially induced by kulaks actions and local UkrSSR authorities corruption”.

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  8. If famine in Ukraine was ‘artificially induced’ in 1932-33, then what explains the famine which occurred in other areas of the Soviet Union during the same time? No one can argue seriously that the Soviet government of the day wanted to kill people in the many regions affected by famine, but I don’t see where else the logic of ‘Holodomor’ leads.
    The neglect by historians of the ‘Holodomor’ claim and the consequent ceding of history to its proponents is a great disservice to the people of Ukraine and the broader region today. They are enduring a war in the east of the country and a NATO military buildup more broadly that are being waged, in part, in the name of historic retribution. But if the history is falsified, then the justification for present-day war is all the more egregious.

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    1. No one can argue seriously that the Soviet government of the day wanted to kill people in the many regions

      I don’t think they explicitly wanted to kill. If they did, they’d just use machine guns. What they wanted was the grain they could sell to the West and didn’t care about the fate of the “kulaks”. Soviet system was extremely goal-oriented and chaotic at the same time, often as result of misreporting to satisfy unrealistic goals. Or simply chaotic, because no one cared about some “enemies of the nation” whose disappearance was anyway in order with the “objective law of class war” – remember Nazino tragedy?

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      1. “I don’t think they explicitly wanted to kill. “

        Careful! With this kind of dangerous thinking you might be barred from entering Ukraine, should they learn about your heresy!

        “What they wanted was the grain they could sell to the West and didn’t care about the fate of the “kulaks””

        Only kulaks were eleminated as a class by the decree of 1930. Ergo, all those remaining (and practising) kulaks were either escaped convicts or criminals, who were successful at hiding their true nature.

        It might suprise you, but the state (any state) always wants to have freedom of using its resources. Since the collectivization’s inception there were set up a system of legally obtaining one such resource – the grain – for its further use by the state. The state didn’t just illegally “stole” from the people.

        “remember Nazino tragedy?”

        Rather unproportional loss of human life due to the actions of local authorities. Btw, the head of OGPU at the moment was Henryk Yagoda. Is he also responsible was that (because, I’m pretty sure, you think that Stalin is responsible) – or did the fact that Yagoda himself fel victim to the “Bloody Regime” absolves him of all the crimes?

        Oh, and the English version of the article fails to mention – like at all – what were the results and decisions after Velichko’s report. In reality:

        “В результате были остановлены масштабные планы по депортации групп людей, классифицированных как «опасные» и «асоциальные», в спецпоселения для освоения необжитых и наиболее суровых территорий СССР. Подобные группы людей впредь отправлялись в трудовые лагеря либо расстреливались.”

        I.e. Politburo drew all correct conclusions and reacted accordingly.

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      2. state (any state) always wants to have freedom of using its resources

        And yet, somehow it’s not US that imports apples from Poland 80 years after collectivisation, but Russia.

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      3. “And yet, somehow it’s not US that imports apples from Poland 80 years after collectivisation, but Russia.”

        Neither is Russia importing them. But I hear lots of most developed first world countries are importing bananas, pineapples, tea and coffee from other countries.

        Also – have you heard about different types of the same product, that got imported not because of the general lack of it, but due to desire to supplement?

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  9. Yeah, I think it’s (obviously) true that collectivization led to famines. It was a large-scale socioeconomic experiment. Similar to anti-slavery, colonial or anti-colonial, imperial unification or anti-imperial movements. These things hardly ever succeed (or fail) without calamities and bloodshed.

    European colonization of the Americas exterminated whole cultures and peoples. And it’s succeeded, so its leaders (like George Washington) are heroes now. The 1930s attempt at collectivization in the USSR had ultimately failed, so the people involved are considered villains. Such is life…

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