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The Daily Vertical: The 'Russophobia' Smear (Transcript)

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

Sergei Lavrov sees Russophobia everywhere.

Allegations that Moscow is supplying arms to the Taliban are Russophobic.

Accusations that Russia is interfering in Western elections are Russophobic.

And claims that the Kremlin is trying to undermine the European Union are, you guessed it, Russophobic.

And it's not just Lavrov.

Federation Council deputy Aleksei Pushkov, the former chairman of the Russian State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, has said that Russophobia has become the official policy of the Baltic states and Ukraine.

And Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has accused Lithuania of "hysterical Russophobia."

So all this Russophobia-mania got me wondering: Where did this word come from? What are its origins? And when was it first deployed?

And the answer is actually pretty interesting -- and quite revealing.

The term Russophobia first appeared in the mid-19th century, when Fyodor Tyutchev, a Slavophile poet and diplomat, used it primarily to describe Poles who sought liberation from the Russian Empire.

In this context, he also referred to "Polish betrayal," "Polish ingratitude," and referred to Poland as "the Judas of the Slavs."

So there you have it. The term Russophobia was invented to malign and smear those who did not wish to be dominated by Russia.

In the mid-19th century, it was those "Russophobic" Poles seeking national liberation.

Today, it's those "Russophobic" Ukrainians, Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians who are seeking to preserve their independence.

And, of course, it's lobbed at anybody else who supports them, or who dares criticize Moscow.

Keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical's Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.

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