Friday, 14 May 2010

Nothing new on Stalin from outward looking Medvedev

Victory Day in Moscow saw British soldiers from the Welsh Guards take part in a parade on Red Square, alongside Russian, American and French troops.  The lead up to the event witnessed a spat about Stalin’s role in the Great Patriotic War, as attempts to have the dictator’s portrait play a role in the celebrations were quashed.

When President Medvedev made an intervention in the debate it was to shoot down any hint of Stalin-idolatry.  Speaking to Izvestia newspaper, he slammed the totalitarian Soviet regime, stressing that it was people, rather than the tyrant, who had defeated Nazi Germany and calling Stalin’s crimes ’unforgivable’.

Whatever you might read elsewhere, Medvedev has not changed tack with his comments.  He has consistently condemned the rehabilitation of Stalinism.  He has repeatedly expressed sorrow for Stalin’s victims.  And it was Medvedev who ordered that the archives be opened up, in order to reveal the true horror of the crimes at Katyn.

Russia’s relationship with the darkest episodes of its Soviet past is complicated.  Stalinist nostalgia is not unheard of and there are perfectly reasonable psychological reasons why it persists.  But the President is unambiguously opposed to the phenomenon and there is nothing particularly new in his latest remarks.

Despite much received wisdom about Russia, its leaders are not incorrigible, nor is Medvedev a clone of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The President wants to be a modernising leader.  Just this week a document detailing the Kremlin foreign ministry’s plans to diversify and dynamise the Russian economy, by attracting inward investment from abroad, was ’leaked’.  Medvedev views hi-tech industries, and an outward looking approach to the rest of the world, as key to Russia’s future success.

He continues to struggle against the ’legal nihilism’ of the justice system, which he believes is holding Russia back.  Sometimes he is successful, sometimes less so, but it is a work in progress and at least Medvedev has accurately identified his country’s problems.

The President sincerely wants to manoeuvre Russia out of the defensive position which has often, understandably, coloured its foreign policy.  He deserves some good will, trust and partnership to enable him to succeed

Young Stalin (Vintage)


yourcousin said...

And yet he sees no irony in his promises to get tough with the Chechen insurgency after a decade plus long scorched earth campaign there. I wasn't particularly surprised that "masterminds" of the metro bombing were killed. I'm just surprised that they bothered to pretend it was done while they were "resisting arrest".

Medvedev most certainly isn't a Putin clone, that would far too dangerous for Putin, but the next year or so will show us if Medvedev is his own man as you say (and even I hope you are right) or a tool of Putin. I haven't forgotten our wager.

Chekov said...

Neither have I yourcousin. And as you've pointed out on numerous occasions, all countries have their grubby laundry.

Beach Bum said...

...Medvedev a clone of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Does Putin know that?

yourcousin said...

To be truthful I would be more than happy to eat crow. A six pack of good pilsner (IIRC) would well be worth a Russia that was moving in a truly democratic direction. As it is, I feel you'll be buying me a sixer of Budweiser.

As for grubby laundry. I think Chechnya goes beyond grubby.

Commiserations on the election. I don't always (okay ever) agree with you but I was pulling for Flash Harry and I respect the message of UCUNF.

Chekov said...

Poor old Flash. He didn't save everyone of us.