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Meet Marina Kalashnikova: a Moscow-based historian, researcher and journalist. Last August she criticized foreign “experts” for suggesting that a conflict with Moscow will not happen because Russia’s elite is too closely associated with the West. According to Kalashnikova, “The West does not care to wake from the dream of its wishful thinking, even when Moscow turns to … reanimating Stalin’s cult of personality together with the ideology of the Cheka [i.e., the secret police].”
I’m afraid that Marina Kalashnikova is right. The West has been dreaming, and the West will suffer the consequences. If the Kremlin likes Stalin, then there will be trouble. If KGB officers have established a sophisticated form of dictatorship in Russia, they have done so for a reason. We should remind our politicians, with their short memories, that Stalin and his secret police did not run a Sunday school. Furthermore, the recent trail of blood and radiation leading back to the Kremlin is like a finger pointing to the greatest danger of our time – nixed from the news media’s prattle of the hour. (A retired KGB officer recently told me that “nobody is easier to buy than a Western journalist.”)
Russia has built an alliance of dictators, what Kalashnikova calls an “alliance of the most unbridled forces and regimes.” Extremists of all kinds serve the purpose of breaking the peace, damaging Western economies, and setting the stage for a global revolution in which the balance of power shifts from the United States and the West to the Kremlin and its Chinese allies. “Among the ideas that animate general staff analysts in the Kremlin, there is the idea of diffusion,” says Kalashnikova, “It is not that the Kremlin should strive for territorial expansion and the dissemination of its [political] model. The critical thing is power and the fulcrum of an overall strategic context. In that case, even if the Americans appear influential in the post-Soviet countries, Moscow remains in charge. The [Russian] General Staff therefore has successfully expanded Moscow’s position beyond and above the old Soviet position in Africa and Latin America.” What prevails, she says, is Moscow’s “assertiveness and determination without fear of a reaction from the West.”
Russia rewriting Josef Stalin’s legacy
Archives on dictator seized from human-rights group Memorial
By Alex Rodriguez
December 17, 2008
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — At first, the purpose behind the midday raid at a human-rights group’s office here was murky. Police, some clad in masks and camouflage, cut the electricity to Memorial’s offices and demanded to know if any drugs or guns were kept on the premises.
Five hours later, after police had opened every computer and walked out with 11 hard drives, the reason for their visit became clear to Memorial Director Irina Flige.
On the hard drives, a trove of scanned images and documents memorialized Josef Stalin’s murderous reign of terror. Diagrams scrawled out by survivors detailed layouts of labor camps. There were photos of Russians executed by Stalin’s secret police, wrenching accounts of survival from gulag inmates and maps showing the locations of mass graves.
“They knew what they were taking,” Flige said. “Today, the state tries to reconstruct history to make it appear like a long chain of victories. And they want these victories to be seen as justifying Stalins repressions.”
Stalin, the brutal Soviet dictator responsible for the deaths of millions of his citizens, has been undergoing a makeover of sorts in recent years. Russian authorities have reshaped the Georgia-born dictators image into that of a misunderstood, demonized leader who did what he had to do to mold the Soviet Union into the superpower it became.
In Russian classrooms, history teachers are guided by a new, government-approved textbook, Alexander Filippov’s “Modern History of Russia: 1945-2006,” which hails Stalin as an efficient manager who had to resort to extreme measures to modernize the lumbering Soviet agrarian economy.
There were, writes Filippov, “rational reasons behind the use of violence in order to ensure maximum efficiency.”