Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Power Vertical

State Of Denial

President Dmitry Medvedev lays flowers at a monument honoring victims of Stalin purges
President Dmitry Medvedev lays flowers at a monument honoring victims of Stalin purges
Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika raised a few eyebrows last week when he called for a law making denial of the Soviet Union's victory in World War II a crime.

I believe that denying the victory of the Soviet people is, at the very least, a violation of the norms of ethics and morals. In certain circumstances, it may result in criminal liability.

Russia is clearly mimicking European laws making Holocaust denial a crime. But is denial of the  Soviet victory in World War II really a problem worthy of criminal prosecution?

In an excellent post over at Robert Amsterdam's blog, James had this to say:

So, Procurator-General of the Russian Federation Yuri Chaika, instead of doing his job and finding the assassins of journalists and lawyers or fighting corruption or prosecuting skinheads who attack foreigners or soldiers who rape and murder Chechens, has come out with a bold new initiative to declare denial of the Soviet people's 'achievements' in the victory in the Great Patriotic War a criminal offense. But is GPW denial really such a big problem in Russia? Anyone who's seen the child honor guards standing in front of eternal flames in even small Russian cities, or the old men and women walking around the streets with chests bedecked in medals, or the massive fireworks displays all over the country on May 9, or the myriad hero-tanks on pedestals in villages, or the massive memorial complexes such as Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd (Stalingrad) or the Piskarevskoye Cemetary in St. Petersburg (Leningrad) or the relatively recently created Poklonnaya Hill complex in Moscow would find it hard to believe that there's any problem at all. Everybody in Russia seems to regard the Great Patriotic War as the greatest event in their country's history, so is there really any need to criminalize something that doesn't even exist? Wouldn't it make a lot more sense if Russia were to criminalize Gulag denial instead?

Well, it appears that the liberal Yabloko party had that very idea. On Saturday, Yabloko approved a statement, "The Disavowal of Bolshevism and Stalinism As a Pre-condition for the Modernization of Russia in the 21st Century," which is posted on the party's website.

The statement called for the criminalization of "attempts to justify mass persecutions and the annihilation of millions of innocent people" as well as the "denial of mass persecutions and of actions to eradicate social and ethnic groups." It also called for the banning of organizations that are -- or call themselves -- successors of the Soviet Communist Party or the KGB and its predecessors.

The leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, participated in the drafting of the document, as did members of the human rights organization Memorial. Alekseyeva said such a statement was "long overdue for the democratic movement."

-- Brian Whitmore

Tags: gulag,chaika,yabloko,denial,ii,war,world,Russia

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Comment Sorting
by: JelloB from: canada
March 03, 2009 17:35
I have to side with the Russians on this one. If everybody in Russia is grateful to the war dead like the blog says, then nobody will get prosecuted and this is largely a symbolic thing, no harm done. On the other hand, if there are deniers, I think denying the death of 26 million people who sacrificed their lives fighting and WINNING, thus making their countrymen grateful for eternity, is at least as criminal as denying the death of 6 million Jews. People who never fought on their home turf to repel a foreign invader are the least likely to understand this kind of thing.

by: VytautasBa from: Vilnius
March 04, 2009 10:57
Article touches a major issue: Russia's inability to comprehend the role it played in 20th Century European history. Something also to consider is not only Russia's role as a victor in WW II but also as one of the starters of the war itself. Viktor Suvorov has been writing about this for years. Recently a book of his "The Chief Culprit" has been published and is available in English. Pretty much summarises his research on the topic since he first published "The Icebreaker" in 1990. Higly recommended.

by: klaus
March 05, 2009 00:26
I'm sorry, I don't think it was Chaika, it was Shoigu who made the comment.<br /><br />

by: Brian Green from: SoCal, USA
March 05, 2009 06:44
The Soviet victory in WWII happened regardless of the Holocaust. Maybe the authors should concern themselves with the silly little laws that the American legislature is passing, instead of nosing around in other people's affairs.<br /><br />Or maybe the fact that the Soviet Union won the last great war almost entirely on its own, with very little support from elsewhere, is still a thorn in the eyes of the West. Why else would anyone want to undermine such a great achievement?

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or