Although few want to recognize that this is the case, the personality cult surrounding Vladimir Putin far exceeds the one that surrounded Stalin “by all measures” and has become what can best be described as “the religion of a pagan empire,” according to Moscow commentator Maksim Kantor.
In a post on Kasparov.ru, Kantor points out that “Stalin stressed his status as a student of Lenin and demonstratively pointed to the primacy of the leader in everything,” insisting that he was “faithful to the principles of Lenin and the course of the founding fathers – to the victory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and only then himself.”
Moreover, one cannot imagine Stalin having golden jets or palaces or to think of him as someone “with a bared chest.” It thus appears, the Moscow commentator continues, that for a full-blown cult of personality one needs a certain “vulgarization of the idol” – and Stalin wasn’t prepared to have that happen.
[quote]In essence, Kantor continues, “Stalin really considered himself to be a communist; he really believed that he was building an unheard of society of equality.” Consequently, he was viewed and insisted on being viewed as “a builder of communism and not as a man or as the most attractive individual of the tribe.”[/quote]
It would not have entered the head of any woman in the Soviet Union to think that she should bear Stalin’s child, he says. “Women loved their men, but they believed Stalin. And this was not completely a cult of personality. The phrase ‘Stalin is married to Russia’ was in principle impossible.” Its use would have led to criminal charges.
Putin’s cult has expanded far beyond Stalin’s, “in part because of the tastelessness and vanity.” But “that is secondary,” Kantor says. The main cause is that what we are observing is “the development of a pagan cult in a nation which has lost all other convictions. There is no longer faith in freedom or equality or democracy or communism.”
[quote]“What remains is a tribal faith – and the cult of a leader (precisely a tribal and pagan cult) has replaced all ideology.”[/quote]