Many of Vladimir Putin’s supporters only ten days ago were expressing concern that he had not launched his campaign with the kind of speeches that would mobilize the population around his plans for the next six years. But such people may now be thinking that it might have been better if the Kremlin leader had continued his silence.
Not only did he engage in an inventive presentation about wonder weapons in his address to the Russian Federal Assembly and suggest that, if Russia were annihilated, there would be no reason for the rest of the world to be allowed to exist, but now he has shared views on the role of God in Russian history and on Russians as a target of Hitler’s Holocaust that many may find worrisome.
In the new film “World Order 2018” put together by Vladimir Solovyev, a host and commentator on Russia’s second largest and state-owned television channel Rossiya-1, and now spreading across social networks, Putin cites with approval the words of an 18th century Russian military commander that [quote] “Russia has indisputable advantages before other countries because it is directly ruled by God. If this is not so, then its existence can’t be explained.”[/quote]
Reporting this, one of Putin’s supporters gushes that “Russia is ruled by God, and Putin himself speaks about this because he understand that as strong as he is, he is only a man. When a ruler knows that over him is Something more, he enters into history in an entirely different manner.”
Other people are likely to draw an entirely different conclusion from the Kremlin leader’s words.
Some are also likely to view two of Putin’s other comments in ways very far from how he would like them to. Asked by Solovyev about whether the Kremlin leader thinks that “Russia is losing its identity,” Putin made clear, his supporter says, “that this is impossible.”
“No,” Putin specified. “We value it very highly. What does the loss of identity mean? The end of the existence of the ethnos. Russians, other peoples of Russia, Tatars, Jews … some practice Orthodoxy; and others of these Russians [and he uses the ethnic term russkiye rather than the political one rossiyane] practice Islam. But all the same this is who we are.”
Many non-Russians and especially non-Orthodox nationalities will be less than pleased by this open display of Russian chauvinism, however much some Russian nationalists and imperialists will like it.
In the film, Solovyev declared that [quote]“the only reason why Hitler has not yet been rehabilitated is the Holocaust, the mass destruction of Jews by the Nazis. While agreeing that the Holocaust is a tragedy, Vladimir Putin,” his supporter says, “calls for not forgetting that other peoples suffered from the crimes of the Nazis and in the first instance the Russians.”[/quote]
“The Jews do not forget how they were destroyed during World War II and they are right to do so,” Putin says. “But there are approximately similar analogous tragedies in the history of other peoples. I’m not talking about small peoples: the Roma were wiped out almost completely. But the Slavs? And the Russians were killed in massive numbers.”
Putin continues: “One can read about this in the documents which lie in the archives. What fate were [the Nazis] preparing for the Russian people? Wiping out some and using some of them as forced laborers … and dispatching the remainder to the Urals and the North to die out.”
[quote]“That is the very same Holocaust only in relation to the Russian people. This must not be forgotten in any case, not in order to accuse someone but in order that this will never be repeated.”[/quote]
That the Nazis killed millions of Russians and that they planned to kill even more are not disputed by anyone, but at least some people will be concerned that Putin has elevated that from the status of a genocide, which it certainly was, to that of the Holocaust which was a unique act of evil.
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