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Russia Draws Wrong Lessons From Its Past


A monument to General Aleksei Yermolov, commander of the Russian forces in the Caucasus from 1816 to 1827, was unveiled in the southern Russian town of Mineralniye Vody on October 4. The 5-meter-high statue was constructed with about 4 million rubles ($154,000) in donations from local Cossack organizations and "patriots from Kaliningrad to Kamchatka," according to "Komsomolskaya Pravda."

Yermolov's reputation has been undergoing something of a revival in Russian ultranationalist circles.

People of the Caucasus remember him, however, as an exceptionally cruel imperialist who waged a campaign of systematic terror against the civilian population. In 1819, he ordered the razing of the Chechen village of Dadi-Yurt and the massacre of the entire population, including women and children.

Yermolov believed that the people of the Caucasus could be suppressed by extreme cruelty. But his strategy in fact led to an unprecedented strengthening of the indigenous resistance; it prompted the unification of highland peoples who previously had been warring with each other.

-- Aslan Doukaev

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