Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Power Vertical

Why Putin Is Afraid Of Lenin

Talkin' about a revolution.
Talkin' about a revolution.
By Brian Whitmore

The first colored revolution was neither rose nor orange -- it was red. 

It didn't originate in Tbilisi or in Kyiv and it wasn't planned in Washington or Brussels. In fact, it started in Vladimir Putin's own hometown.

Nearly a century ago, Russia pretty much invented colored revolutions.

And as the centennial of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution approaches -- and approaches with Russia's economy heading into a tailspin -- this uncomfortable historical fact is very much on Putin's mind.

Speaking to pro-Kremlin activists this week in the southern city of Stavropol, the Kremlin leader raised eyebrows by denouncing Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks for executing Tsar Nicholas II along with all his family and servants, killing thousands of priests, and placing a "time bomb" under the Russian state.

Putin's comments expanded on remarks he made in Moscow on January 21, the 92nd anniversary of Lenin's death.

"Letting your rule be guided by ideas is right, but only when these ideas lead to the correct results, not like it did with Vladimir Ilyich. In the end that idea led to the fall of the Soviet Union," he said.

"We did not need a global revolution." 

The Kremlin leader's flurry of anti-Lenin comments is only the most recent example of the regime's skittishness and schizophrenia about how to approach next year's big anniversary. 

They also illustrate palpable fears among the Russian elite that 2017 could turn out to be a revolutionary year.

Putin's Kremlin fears any revolution "regardless of its color or meaning" because "the present-day Russian authorities subconsciously fear an analogous outcome for themselves," political commentator Alina Vitukhnovskaya wrote recently.

We got an early hint of the Kremlin's anxiety a couple months ago.

Instead of marking the 98th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution on November 7, Russia commemorated the 74th anniversary of a parade that marked the 24th anniversary of the revolution. 

Confused? Well that's sort of the point.

Thousands gathered on Red Square for a reenactment of the massive November 7, 1941 military parade that both marked the revolution -- and also sent Russian soldiers off to fight in World War II.

Putin has long used Soviet symbolism and nostalgia to bolster his rule.

But which Soviet past the Kremlin has chosen to glorify speaks volumes about the regime's thinking -- and its fears. 

The idealism and upheaval of 1917 is out. The military discipline of Josef Stalin's Soviet Union is in. Revolution is out. Repression and mobilization are in. Lenin the revolutionary out. Stalin the state builder is in.

As longtime Kremlin-watcher Paul Goble wrote on his blog, Putin took the "revolution" out of the revolution's anniversary.

The move, he added, "reflects both his fear of revolutionary change" as well as "his desire to keep the Soviet inheritance, which he values, as far removed from its revolutionary origins as possible." 

In other words, the last thing Putin's Kremlin wants the Russian people thinking about is revolutions -- lest they get any ideas.

Better, of course, to keep their minds focused on war -- preferably victorious ones.

And just a few months before the Kremlin turned the revolution's anniversary into a celebration of Stalin's victory in World War II, Putin denounced the Bolsheviks for causing Russia to lose World War I.

In 1917, "some were shaking Russia from within, and shook it to the point that Russia as a state collapsed and declared itself defeated," Putin said in August at the Seliger National Youth Forum, a summer camp for pro-Kremlin activists.

The Bolsheviks, he added, were responsible for the "betrayal of the Russian national interests" and "wished to see their fatherland defeated while Russian heroic soldiers and officers shed blood on the fronts of the First World War."

In a recent column in Snob, political commentator Artem Rondaryev noted the paradox facing Putin and his ruling clique as next year's centennial approaches. 

"Love for the USSR is combined in a paradoxical hatred to everything that the revolution which created this very USSR initially brought with it – the avant-garde, feminism, free morality, and social transformation," Rondaryev wrote.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Joe from: Miami
January 26, 2016 18:27
Why is putin is afraid of lenin?. The answer is simple:Lenin rolling to its grave now with today Russia. Oligarchs , and a nationalist despot, plus cronies capitalism running the country
In Response

by: Paula from: South America
January 26, 2016 22:57
I think Lenin (not that he was virtue himself) had been rolling in his grave looooooong before Putin came along
In Response

by: Uncle Sam from: Kapa-Kohila
January 27, 2016 13:06
Lenin started active rolling immediately after Joseph Stalin gained his full power in Russia.
In Response

by: Andrew from: Brisbane
January 28, 2016 14:30
What grave? isn't he still pickled like a gherkin in Red Square?

by: Ellen Reid from: Australia
January 26, 2016 19:27
Perhaps the solution to this problem will be the restoration of a constitutional monarchy with Putin as prime minister?
There are members of the Romanov family who are ready, willing and able to accept the restoration: Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and her son George.
A coronation in 2017 would provide a diversion to rectify the forced abdication in 1917, and the executions in 1918.
In Response

by: joe from: Miami
January 26, 2016 21:34
What an ignorant statement
In Response

by: Andrew from: Brisbane
January 28, 2016 15:48
Maybe we should settle the question of monarchy in our own country first before offering it to Russia.

by: George from: Belarus
January 26, 2016 20:05
If we are basically on the same side as the writer, I suppose that we have to accept the misuse of medical terms like schizophrenia, while mourning that the journalist in question didn't get an education and wondering why someone who did, namely Mark Galeotti, is so keen to ally himself with the ignoramus - but it hurts.
In Response

by: James Canchela
January 26, 2016 23:57
Sorry but the use of the word was quite clever. Obviously there is a preceived thought that Putin's Russian regime is delusional and conveys disorganized thoughts.
Let's go back to the quote, "... Wished to see fatherland defeated while heroic soldiers and officers shed blood on the fronts..." A defamation twords Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Was it not Stalin that executed many of his officers at the beginning of WWII? Was it not Stalin that sent returning Russian soldier that were captured by the enemy to camps? When you speak of heroic soldier and officers you shouldn't embrace someone that truly had no respect for their sacrifices. Actually, Putin's Russia has shown no respect for those in the Russian Armed Service. One might reflect on Russia's lack of acknowledgement of captured soldiers. Or might even question the mistreatment of surviving family members of fallen soldiers.
In Response

by: pete from: maine,usa
January 27, 2016 05:03
Most people confuse Schizophrenia with Schizoid nothing new there but what is your point. The article was cogent and accurate.
In Response

by: Brian Whitmore from: Prague
January 27, 2016 07:21
* a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.
* (in general use) a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements.
In Response

by: George from: Belarus
January 27, 2016 09:48
* (in general use) a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements.

This definition applies to all of us at one time or another. It applies to a lot of people most of the time. So we are all schizophrenic. It applies to all nations and governments. Don't all regimes have contradictory elements unless they're like N.Korea? Cartoonist continually lampoon politicians for their inconsistencies.So all nations and governments are schizophrenic. It applies to God's behaviour as described in the Bible so He's schizophrenic, if you happen to believe in Him. So a word that once meant something precise in the medical field, by virtue of general use, now means very little. Some journalists use it for someone who can't make up his or her mind. The inconsistencies that come out of the Kremlin are usually described by RFERL as a kind of muddying of the water, a KGB tactic, but you can make it schizo if you want. To get another rise out of Brian, who only deigns to take part in this platform when personally wounded, I would like to point out that RFERL is propagandist during the week until Mark Galeotti and certain others take part at the weekend. But it's only mildly propagandist and quite entertainingly so. Feisty, right? I believe, tell me if I'm wrong, I know you will, that RFERL is funded by the US, which certainly has a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements. (I'm not a troll, I don't like Putin and I don't like what he's doing to Russia.)
In Response

by: Brian Whitmore from: Prague
January 27, 2016 11:08
Wow "George" - You sure are starved for attention. Maybe you should get yourself a dog. But I do find you somewhat amusing.
In Response

by: George from: Belarus
January 27, 2016 13:14
Thanks for wading in with this contribution, Brian. It's greatly appreciated. But why have you put my name in speech marks? I'm not a proxy for anyone. Don't get paranoid now on top of schizo.
Looking forward to the weekend.
In Response

by: Neil Nelson from: UT, USA
January 27, 2016 18:38
George, And so you do not like Putin and what he is doing to Russia. What in particular might that be?

by: Yoshua
January 26, 2016 20:12
The KGB are masters at manipulation. Only the core dealt with true information, the body which was penetrated by western spies dealt with lies and propaganda. The system worked, the collapse of the USSR came as a surprise, no one saw it coming.

The collapse was actually orchestrated from within the KGB... the only prof of this is that KGB is in power today.

Russia is in not in a revolutionary mode right now... Russia is in a war mode. It is a very strange, undeclared war.
In Response

by: Uncle Sam from: Kapa-Kohila
January 27, 2016 13:12
It is very true. Even more so if you happen to follow Russian media. More than once they have threaten USA with nuclear weapons. Russian world is very polarized - it is either "us" or "them".
I remember Soviet time media which actually created kind of virtual reality. One thing was what you saw from TV or newspapers. The other, what you saw in the streets or shops or at workplace. Modern Russian media has excelled even Soviet media.

by: Michael from: Germany
January 27, 2016 11:03
Very cheap topic for discussion... I do not understand why the RFE/RL is trying to politicize any daily event happening in Russia. How does this relate to the mission of the RFE/RL? Very cheap journalism!

by: Robert Hansen from: stavanger
January 27, 2016 11:58
Russians look back on the USSR with nostalgia ........

What other conclusion can one take then Evil evil evil people the world, will be better off without ....

I mean what does the world say about the German neo- National Socialists when they look back a Hitlers Germany with nostalgia they call them evil right......

And I for one totally agree 100% ..

The neo -soviets / Stalinist that support neo- Stalinist Putin (80% of ethnic Russian in Russia do support Putin) all look back and even proudly like to identify them self's with the soviet history look back at this as that 75 years of soviet existence in time as a great proud time of Russian history....

Putin threatening to invade Poland, Romania, and Baltics



What a bunch of evil evil evil evil Stalinist they are .....

And on another note i think you will need to look long and hard to day to find a German look back to the time of Hitler with proud memories of German history....

Brutal Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was voted Russia's third most popular historical figure in a nationwide TV poll

A poll held by a TV station to find the greatest Russian despite being responsible for the deaths of millions of Soviets in labour camps and purges.

The TV Show called ``Name of Russia`` finale was presented on state-run Rossiya television after three months of polling that saw 50 million votes cast by phone and internet. Stalin came out 3 place YES STALIN !!! he hovered in as the top 3rd place out of 50 nominees, in a sign that a recent government-led trend to reshape his reputation is yielding results.

Stalin voted third-best Russian in Russian history

Many in Russia do still revere Stalin

KGB Putins Russia has started a campaign to rehabilitate Stalin's image and it seems to be coming from the highest levels of government..


What is not functioning in the Russians twisted evil little brains ?????

by: PaulR from: Ottawa
January 27, 2016 13:58
What Putin actually said. As you can see, it has nothing to do with fear of revolution: https://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/putin-on-communism/

by: Paul Griffin from: Oviedo
January 27, 2016 15:51
Sounds like Putin still adhere to a Marxist/Leninist philosophy, that "the end justifies the means".

by: Carlos Matos from: Germany
January 27, 2016 16:12
It´s interesting to see, that even nowadays Lenin is constantly in the headlines all around the world. In Germany, where I live, an artistic project has gathered all the incredible stories of the last statues of Lenin still standing 25 years after the reunification: There are some amazing stories! Check it at www.leninisstillaround.com

by: Helen
January 27, 2016 17:37
Very interesting article. I am told that there has been a resurgence of faith in Russia and moves to honour the last Czar and his family. Putin could be trying to win over both the orthodox and the followers of Stalin. Stalin after all showed the way in WW2. Putins opinions on Russia's withdrawal from WW1 show he is adapt at manipulating patriotism to his cause
Comments page of 2

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on 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