Kremlin-promoted, mythologized Russian past opens the way to a return to Stalinism

A recent Russian propaganda poster for Joseph Stalin copied after the popular Barack Obama "Hope" poster from his 2008 election campaign. (Image: social media)

A recent Russian propaganda poster for Joseph Stalin copied after the popular Barack Obama "Hope" poster from his 2008 election campaign. (Image: social media) 

Analysis & Opinion, History, Russia

Many expected that with the passage of time, new generations of Russians would reject the worst aspects of their country’s past such as Stalinism, but new polls show that support for Stalin and forgiveness of his crimes is greater among young people than among older groups.

There are two explanations for this pattern, Moscow commentator Anton Orekh says.

The first is the historical cruelty of the Russian people and their willingness to celebrate even the most horrific leaders if they are prepared to act in a cruel fashion toward those they identify as enemies.

The second, he says, is that Russians even when they know the specific facts about the past – and some three-quarters of Russian young people who celebrate Stalin as a great leader do know such facts – subsume them under the Kremlin-promoted mythology about the Russian past as one great triumph after another, interrupted only occasionally by wreckers and foreigners.

Consequently, young Russians who know something about the horrors of the GULAG and who even acknowledge specific crimes by Stalin are inclined to ignore these things as unimportant compared to the magisterial march forward of the Russian state and its cruel power over others.

Thus, young people “simply do not understand what they in fact are approving [because] history in our country always is taught as something out of a comic book or poster. A history of victories, triumphs and achievements” in which “the powers are always inerrant and wise,” the Moscow commentator says.

This propaganda poster plays on the mythologized Russian history promoted by the Kremlin, drawing parallels between the supposed "Russian heroes" such as Prince Alexander Nevsky and Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Putin. The sign says "Invincible Russia" (Image: social media)

This propaganda poster plays on the mythologized Russian history promoted by the Kremlin, drawing parallels between the supposed “Russian heroes” such as Prince Alexander Nevsky and Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Putin. The sign says “Invincible Russia” (Image: social media)

That means, he continues, that just providing younger Russians with more information about their country’s past will be insufficient to change their assessments of even its worst aspects, Orekh says; and it also means that the Kremlin by the historical images it promotes is opening the way for the rise of a new Stalin and a new Stalinist system.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Ihor Dawydiak

    Short of a nuclear war which would not serve anyone’s interests, there is only one other way which could serve as a deterrent to Putin’s imperialist aggression and regression into Stalinism. For this there are two simple words; forced bankruptcy. While this would involve a major effort by all of the Western powers (such as kicking Russia out of the SWIFT banking system, a halt to all European imports of Russian oil and gas and suspension of all trade), it can be done and the sooner the better. As for Putin, he could rant and rave and blame the West for all of Russia’s miseries but in the end it would be his regime that would have to answer to the Russian consumer. If stealing land meant abject poverty then what would be the point of stealing land in the first place? And then what? Another revolution?

    • veth

      Russian special officer of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian General Staff Evgeniy Erofeyev, who was captured in Donbas in 2015 and returned in a prisoner swap for Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko in 2016, was killed shortly after he returned to Russia, according to Russian serviceman Viktor Ageyev, who is under arrest in Donbas.

      “Have you heard what happened to GRU Erofeyev after he returned? They took him out. They killed him. I know this for a fact. Everyone is talking about this, here, there, on that side. Everyone knows they took him out. Because he said too much,” Ageyev said in an interview with Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper published on Sunday.

  • svend lykkegaard

    Interesting article. That can explain why the Russian Teens/Trolls are so strange. They dont care for people and are happy when other dies fighting for their country. The Russians only care for Putler and others who can submit them and treat them like shit, not caring for families or old people. Mayby the Trolls even laugh when they hear about starving Russians? You never know. But let us all hope, that when Russia is broke, they will chance their minds, but dont count on it. A friend of mine told me, that the mix of finns and mongols destroy normal human feeling. Can that be true??

  • zorbatheturk

    Vladimir Putin should be made to surf a sharknami on a ten dollar boogie board from Kmart.

  • Kruton

    Stalin shot his wife in the face.

  • zorbatheturk

    RuSSians cannot get enough of Stalin.