Seventy-four years ago today, Hitler turned on his ally Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union, an action that continues to echo in the post-Soviet states with Moscow now routinely but falsely accusing Ukraine of having become fascist while Vladimir Putin’s Russia is rapidly on its way to becoming exactly that, according to Vladislav Inozemtsev.
Moscow propagandists routinely assert that Ukraine is “fascist.” But what do they find in Ukraine that justifies this? Nothing. Do the Ukrainians want to “build a ‘Greater Ukraine’ from Kursk to Cracow? No, they dream of joining the European Union and in essence forgetting about their recently acquired sovereignty.”
“Are political opposition figures [in Ukraine] suppressed?” Hardly. The opposition even defeated the president’s party in the polls, Inozemtsev points out. And “post-Maidan Ukraine lives quite peacefully if you do not take into consideration districts controlled by ‘the separatists.’” It has no interest in expanding its territory.
“Do Ukrainians recall imperial times with tears in their eyes? Hardly: they destroy monuments to the leaders of the totalitarian era and lament the victims of the terror famine and mass repressions.” According to Inozemtsev, he “personally does not see anything fascist not only in Kyiv but even, for example, in Lviv.”
The situation in Moscow is very different, however. There, the screws are being tightened and the opposition is being excluded from politics. Everywhere “there is the mythologization of the past and its heroization. And as for nationalism, one need only talk about “the ideology of the Russian world.”
The government uses legislation to attack minorities it doesn’t approve of. It combines state power with the capital of the oligarchs. There is “’a vertical’ and a charismatic leader.” In short, there is evidence that Russia is increasingly meeting each and every one of the definitional requirements of fascism.
“What does this mean?” Inozemtsev asks rhetorically. It means this: “if the Russian people wants to be true to the pledges of its greater ancestors, if it is ready to be worthy of the memory of the millions who died, then at a minimum this ‘enormous country’ must reflect on where its current elite is taking it.”
Russia “must not forget that the early fascist institutions became the training ground for that terror which in the second third of the 20th century swallowed up all of Europe.” It is of course wrong to equate Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the Moscow analyst says, “but one should not fail to reflect about how all this began a century ago.”
Moreover, Inozemtsev continues, no one should fail to reflect on “how the first growths of ‘the banality of evil’ are today penetrating the everyday life” of Russians. “To think about this is not a crime,” as some in the Kremlin clearly would prefer, “but rather a responsibility,” especially on this anniversary.