Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
wwilson
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by wwilson » 09 May 2021 15:49

Hi Sid,

I could make guesses about other countries attempting such gambits, but it would be speculation. I am not in the position to give "proof" that such is occurring. But, it is fact that Putin's regime has criminalized the comparison of Soviet Russia's record with that of Nazi Germany.

So I can reasonably assume the reason this was done is that people were making such comparisons.

A good question at this point is, what was the nationality of the people doing so? Were these ordinary Russians, foreign researchers, or foreign journalists?

What I would find hard to believe is that ordinary Russians had any interest in doing so, if for no other reason that Russian families lost so many members during the war.

Was it Russians with political ambition who desire a state other than Putin's regime? Are they acting solely in Russia's interests, or are they agents of a foreign power?

Lots of questions, and very pertinent I think, to answering the list of questions you posted above. I don't know the answers, but I do know actions like this don't simply emerge from the blue sky. Something was going on that prompted this response from the Russian state.

And absolutely, it -is- a game designed to weaken the impact of any justifications, explanations, rationalizations, etc., given by Putin's regime. These sort of exercises are not done without specific goals in mind. Again, the specific who and why is not known to me.

If you find my thinking here wrong, that's okay. You asked me why I replied the way I did, and these are the thoughts that are in the back of my mind.

As to your comments about modern Russia. You know, Putin's regime is not my cup of tea. But it is necessary to recall that Russia is a sovereign power. The barbed lesson therein is that other sovereign powers have to bear that in mind and be accordingly prepared. It really is the only thing to do, short of war. As you note, Russia has a lot of natural resources -- so actions like economic sanctions will likely be ineffective. Diplomatic sanctions -- ditto, especially considering that Russia [formerly USSR] was "contained" for most of the Cold War or held at arm's length since then ... yet, Putin's state still exerts power where it chooses to do so, with bounds on that power being exerted by the characteristics of any given situation. That is the reality.

So, in closing, I think a lot more information about this situation is needed to assess why Putin's state took the action it did, and I am not comfortable with immediate condemnation of that action without knowing more about the background that led to it.

Cheers

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 May 2021 17:34

Hi wwilson,

The first question to be asked is whether anyone is actually defaming Russia rather than just probing uncomfortable truths about its past. Do you have any examples? You say not, so I wonder where the evidence is, or even if there is any?

This could just be a paranoia-inducing red herring designed by the Putin administration to boost flagging domestic support. It seems to come on the back of Navalny being accused by the administration of insulting a 95-year old veteran who the Putin administration had used to support the case for lifting term limits on the Presidency of Russia. Interestingly, no accusations were brought against Navalny for his condemnation of all the other celebrities, athletes and politicians who supported Putin being given effectively a Life Presidency. He called them all, not just the veteran, "traitors" and "stooges". These seem perfectly arguable points.

You post, "What I would find hard to believe is that ordinary Russians had any interest in doing so, if for no other reason that Russian families lost so many members during the war." I agree. On the other hand it would be in Putin's interest to set this up himself as a straw man precisely because he knows such suggestions would upset so many Russians. As the old saying goes, "Patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel".

You ask, "Was it Russians with political ambition who desire a state other than Putin's regime?" The first question to answer is whether such people even exist (see above). Such evidence seems to be completely lacking. Only once we have answered this can we reasonably ask, "Are they acting solely in Russia's interests, or are they agents of a foreign power?"

You post, ".....this don't simply emerge from the blue sky." I agree. This has emerged from the Putin administration at a time when it is under internal pressure and its popularity is slipping.

You post, "Something was going on that prompted this response from the Russian state." Yup. My bet is that it is prompted by the sense of self preservation of the Putin regime.

You post, "The barbed lesson therein is that other sovereign powers have to bear that in mind and be accordingly prepared. It really is the only thing to do, short of war." Sadly, not "short of war" but including war. Because of Russia's use of armed force in several of its neighbours, everyone must now realize that wider war is now a possibility.

You post, "As you note, Russia has a lot of natural resources -- so actions like economic sanctions will likely be ineffective." It may be coincidence, but Russia's per capita income has stopped growing since sanctions were first introduced and the population has begun to fall again. Maybe sanctions aren't so ineffective! Sadly, the only Russians largely impervious to them are the kleptocratic oligarchs and Putin's associated circle, because they have already grown fabulously wealthy off the backs of the Russian state and population.

The effect of the Western sanctions has been to turn Russia towards China, which is a dominant economy already many times larger than Russia's and growing much faster. Putin's policies are increasingly making Russia dependent on China. Russia's relationship with China is in danger of becoming of the subservient sort that Mussolini's Italy had with Nazi Germany. And all the while the Russian-speaking population of Siberia is falling and more and more Chinese are living and working inside its borders.

You say, "Putin's state still exerts power where it chooses to do so, with bounds on that power being exerted by the characteristics of any given situation. That is the reality." No. Putin's state can't exert power where it chooses. It can, however, make opportunistic local power grabs, as it has in Georgia, Crimea and Donetsk. Overseas it has only managed to preserve its existing influence in Syria.

Whatever Putin's illusions, Russia is no longer a super power, (though, if better managed, it might one day be again). It is a shrinking middle income country with serious internal problems that hides its fundamental weakness behind the world's largest nuclear arsenal and is propped up by the good fortune of having the world's greatest mineral resources. This last gives it massive potential, if it can only install a viable political and economic system.

What posters might not realize is that, had I posted some of the above while living in Russia, under this new legislation I might now be arrested and convicted of a crime! (No cheering at the back, please!)

Not only that, but many other posters here could be held accountable for past posts still up as well and AHF might be closed down there for hosting them!

Nor can AHF posters from Russia now offer a negative opinion of the USSR (a state that no longer even exists and few want back) relative to Nazi Germany without real personal risk!


Cheers,

Sid

wwilson
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by wwilson » 09 May 2021 18:49

Hi Sid,

I cheerfully acknowledge the unknown status of the issues I mentioned. To have actual proof of them, I suppose one would have be an official of the Russian state, or be a member of an organization/other state attempting to game this issue with Putin's regime.

Am I speculating? Of course, but not pointlessly or as some kind of internet distraction.

There are some issues I'm aware of in Europe that I will not comment on, for personal reasons. But I can offer one situation as an example of the gaming behavior I mentioned. Recall when a former PM of Italy decided that Italy would no longer allow the docking of NGO ships that had rescued migrants in the Mediterranean? That decision was then 'gamed' by an NGO, which had a ship full of rescued migrants dock in Italy in full knowledge that what they were doing was forbidden by the sovereign state with which they were interacting. Cue various outlets of the mainstream media decrying the Italian policy, multiple stories published about the plight of migrants, etc.

Now, you tell me: was that act of the NGO and the media coverage surrounding it simply coincidental to the Italian PM having adopted that policy?

For my part, that was clearly a gambit designed to make that PM look like a despicable man who had no business holding political office. The migrants ... well, who knows what became of them. They weren't the point of that exercise. The goal was to force the PM, I believe his name was Salvini, out of power ... and that goal was achieved. To which one must wonder ... where was the accountability and transparency of the NGO's actions and those of the media outlets to the Italian citizens who had voted Salvini into office? If the West wishes to champion democracy, it certainly needs to clean its own house[s] first.

So yeah, these kind of pressure plays go on. Did something like that, perhaps less public, occur in the case of Putin's decision? No idea, but I would not be surprised to hear that a background of that nature was part of it.

Your speculation that this may be a scheme of Putin's state for reasons of their own is reasonable. I have no fundamental problem with it, but like my speculation, we have no real evidence either way. We only know a policy chilling to open debate was adopted. You seem to believe this is a power play; I reserve judgment because I would like to know more about the background of the situations in which the Soviet Union of the war was declared comparable to Nazi Germany.

Yeah, you know, regarding comments about war, the future of European states, etc. I think time has just about run out. And yes, the legal situation for anyone in Russia has gotten more precarious.

Cheers

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by Sid Guttridge » 10 May 2021 12:29

Hi wwilson,

Regarding your Italian example. The NGO clearly didn't exist for the purpose of embarrassing the Italian Government. It existed to prevent migrants and/or refugees from drowning. It was not the NGO that changed policy. The Italian Government's change of policy conflicted with the NGO's raison d'etre, so the two were thrown into opposition. None of this can be laid at the door of the NGO.

What would you suggest that the NGO do with the recued refugees/migrants when Italy changed its policy? Put them back in the unseaworthy boats they had been plucked from? Leave them and others to drown?

Similarly, what do you expect the "mainstream" media to do? Exercise self censorship and ignore the situation? Just being "mainstream" doesn't make one wrong, any more than offering an alternative perspective makes one right.

It is entirely possible that far fewer people would have drowned had the first refugee/migrant boats been allowed to sink, thereby perhaps discouraging others from taking the same risks. However, one would have to pretty soulless to allow that to happen.

I have no doubt that among the NGO's motivations was to try to leverage a reversal of Italian policy. However, given its terms of reference, what else could one expect of it?

So the answer to your question, ".....was that act of the NGO and the media coverage surrounding it simply coincidental to the Italian PM having adopted that policy?" is almost certainly "Yes". The difference between before and after was the change in Italian Government policy. The NGO hadn't changed its policy and the media could hardly ignore the story.

Your say of the Russian legislation, ".....we have no real evidence either way." We do. We know for a hard fact that Putin's regime has further restricted a freedom by public legislation. What we lack is hard evidence as to why.

You say, "I would like to know more about the background of the situations in which the Soviet Union of the war was declared comparable to Nazi Germany." There are multiple parallels between the two Totalitarian systems. It is only when it comes to the total implacability of the so-called "Holocaust" that the Russians might reasonably object. Perhaps that is where their problem lies. However, given the massive death rates of prisoners in the USSR's Gulags, even on this subject debate is needed to try to differentiate the two.

If one was going to look for a country comparable with Nazi Germany, it is difficult to find anywhere more apt than the USSR.

Cheers,

Sid.

wwilson
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by wwilson » 10 May 2021 13:51

Hi Sid,

Our views cannot converge. My view on what holds more weight in the issues we've discussed is obviously different than yours.

And that is okay by me.

Perhaps at some point in the future, we'll learn more about why Putin made the decision that he did.

Cheers, and thank you for the discussion--

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by Sid Guttridge » 10 May 2021 14:06

Hi wwilson,

You are expressing doubts without substantive support for them. In essence, this is just conspiracy theory.

Cheers,

Sid.

snpol
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by snpol » 24 May 2021 20:44

Sid Guttridge wrote:
09 May 2021 17:34
Nor can AHF posters from Russia now offer a negative opinion of the USSR (a state that no longer even exists and few want back) relative to Nazi Germany without real personal risk![/size][/i][/i][/b]
As a Russian living in Moscow, I dare to disagree with you. Soviet history has a lot of white and black pages. For example
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_Op ... at%20Purge.
The Polish Operation of the NKVD (Soviet security service) in 1937–1938 was an anti-Polish mass ethnic cleansing operation of the NKVD carried out in the Soviet Union against Poles (labeled by the Soviets as "agents") during the period of the Great Purge. It was ordered by the Politburo of the Communist Party against the so-called "Polish spies" and customarily interpreted by the NKVD officials as relating to 'absolutely all Poles'. It resulted in the sentencing of 139,835 people, and summary executions of 111,091 Poles living in or near the Soviet Union.
The Holocaust was in fact mass ethnic cleansing directed against the Jews. In this context one could make comparisons.
The law in question still is not passed but its authors explain its details.
https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2021/05/ ... ons-a73826
In an explanatory note published on the Duma's website, the bill’s co-authors noted that the ban “leaves space for historical research and scientific discussions, including with respect to specific individuals’ actions.”

Co-author Yelena Yampolskaya said on Facebook that the legal ban does not infringe on freedom of speech but maintains to instill “decency.”

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by Sid Guttridge » 24 May 2021 22:07

Hi snpol,

Your post doesn't address my point, "Nor can AHF posters from Russia now offer a negative opinion of the USSR (a state that no longer even exists and few want back) relative to Nazi Germany without real personal risk!"

The fact that some critical comment is still up doesn't alter the proposition that after the proposed new legislation the individuals posting it would now be at "real personal risk" from the state. The Russian state is apparently equipping itself with a new tool that would put a good number of AHF posters at risk, if they lived in the Russia. The mere existence of such legislation would be likely to induce a degree of self-censorship, especially if some prosecutions follow.

Cheers,

Sid.

snpol
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by snpol » 25 May 2021 05:03

Sid Guttridge wrote:
24 May 2021 22:07
Hi snpol,

Your post doesn't address my point, "Nor can AHF posters from Russia now offer a negative opinion of the USSR (a state that no longer even exists and few want back) relative to Nazi Germany without real personal risk!"

The fact that some critical comment is still up doesn't alter the proposition that after the proposed new legislation the individuals posting it would now be at "real personal risk" from the state. The Russian state is apparently equipping itself with a new tool that would put a good number of AHF posters at risk, if they lived in the Russia. The mere existence of such legislation would be likely to induce a degree of self-censorship, especially if some prosecutions follow.

Cheers,

Sid.
As ever, the devil is in the details.
Russian Criminal Code contains an article 354.1 Rehabilitation of Nazism (adopted in 2014).
Here is its full text in Russian
http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_ ... 2d4bb7598/
Let's look what is criminalised by the Article 354.1
Denial of the facts established by the verdict of the International Military Tribunal for the trial and punishment of the main war criminals of the European Axis countries, approval of the crimes established by this verdict, as well as the dissemination of knowingly false information about the activities of the USSR during the Second World War, about veterans of the Great Patriotic War, committed publicly
The dissemination of information expressing obvious disrespect for society about the days of military glory and memorable dates of Russia associated with the defense of the Fatherland, as well as the desecration of the symbols of military glory of Russia, insult to the memory of the defenders of the Fatherland or humiliation of the honor and dignity of a veteran of the Great Patriotic War, committed publicly
The first variant of the legislation that is being discussed in this thread was proposed a year ago but was not adopted.
https://tass.ru/obschestvo/8576351
The Government and the Supreme Court noted that existing Article 354.1 in the Criminal Code doesn't need amendments of this sort and is sufficient to punish respective wrongdoings.

As for censorship and self-censorship then it is an important issue. Why posters on AHF could be banned? Let's regard an example of banned Russian poster. It happened about 10 years ago. The moderator, no doubt rightfully, banned Sergey.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1987&hilit=Siofok&start=420
Let's scrutinise his sin - why he was banned?
As I understand a report (from my point of view very doubtful) about mass rape in Hungarian city of Siofok was discussed. Allegedly 300 women were raped by Soviet soldiers. Still it remains an allegation, not proven, not properly established.
Siofok is a resort city on the bank of Balaton lake - a native town of famous Hungarian composer Imre (Emmerich) Kalman. A few years ago I visited the city. Let's look at its population
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siófok
1941 8556
1949 10009
2011 25045
2018 25461
It would be logical to estimate population of Siofok in 1945 as about 9000 and female population as 4500. So allegedly 6.7% of women in Siofok were raped.
Sergey made a big mistake. 10 years ago data about war time population of Siofok apparently were no available and he wrongfully thought that (due to stagnation of population in Hungary) modern data about population could be applied to 1945.
Anyway it was a discussion about alleged events and the allegations were not backed by any reasonable way.
I confess that personally on some points I have to be very careful, have to use self-censorship not to be banned on AHF. In this context Russian legislation (existing of proposed) is irrelevant. It doesn't bound me in any real way.

gebhk
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by gebhk » 25 May 2021 06:46

Hi Sid
everyone must now realize that wider war is now a possibility
Alas, I would suggest few do.

snpol
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by snpol » 25 May 2021 07:07

gebhk wrote:
25 May 2021 06:46
Hi Sid
everyone must now realize that wider war is now a possibility
Alas, I would suggest few do.
Personally I don't believe that a war between Russia and NATO will happen anytime soon. Not so long ago Belgrade was bombed by NATO. I strongly doubt that Russian city of Belgorod will be bombed the same way.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by Sid Guttridge » 25 May 2021 07:10

Hi snpol,

You post,

"Denial of the facts established by the verdict of the International Military Tribunal for the trial and punishment of the main war criminals of the European Axis countries, approval of the crimes established by this verdict, as well as the dissemination of knowingly false information about the activities of the USSR during the Second World War, about veterans of the Great Patriotic War, committed publicly.

The dissemination of information expressing obvious disrespect for society about the days of military glory and memorable dates of Russia associated with the defense of the Fatherland, as well as the desecration of the symbols of military glory of Russia, insult to the memory of the defenders of the Fatherland or humiliation of the honor and dignity of a veteran of the Great Patriotic War, committed publicly.
"

I hadn't realized quite how far the Putin regime had already gone in making historical debate potentially prosecutable. On those grounds quite a few AHF contributors would be at risk of a knock on the door at 0300 from the police, if they lived in today's Russia. Most of us on AHF just have to worry about the heavy hand of an unsympathetic Moderator closing a thread or possibly suspending us.

Fortunately, as yet, there still seems to be a flow of some revisionist information coming out of Russia from named sources, but the threat to them is there.

Cheers,

Sid.

gebhk
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by gebhk » 25 May 2021 08:10

Personally I don't believe that a war between Russia and NATO will happen anytime soon. Not so long ago Belgrade was bombed by NATO. I strongly doubt that Russian city of Belgorod will be bombed the same way.
I very much hope you are right. However, I can't but see disquieting parallels with people saying much the same sort of thing after Hitler marched into the Rhineland, Austria, the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia.........

gebhk
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by gebhk » 25 May 2021 08:11

On the wider question - why? Perhaps I am just an old cynic, but I suspect these things usually revolve either around (1) economics and finance and (b) power games or both. And in this case (1) Russia's pocket would not be best served if its proud claim to be the legal continuation of the Soviet Union were to include legal responsibility of said Union's crimes on the German model - ie be expected to pay compensation to the victims, as Germany still does. With regard to (b), having flogged that old chestnut (we are nice because X is far worse - still being flogged today and some people still buy it amazingly enough) for all it was worth for over a hundred years, the Russian Federation population is likely to be strongly influenced by this viewpoint. No one who can be reasonably viewed as a successor to the Soviet regime can be comfortable with the idea that they might be aligned in the public mind with the biggest bogeyman in the gallery, especially if either their grip on power is slipping or their political aim is to return more closely to the ethos and methods of that regime (or both).

Unfortunately for the current rulers of the Russian Federation, the comparisons, at least as far as outcomes are considered, are self-evident and compelling and therefore a useful and self-made stick to beat them with by their political opponents whether internal or external. As Sid says, the only way to remove this stick, ls for Russia to make an honest reckoning with the past. However that carries the risks both financial and, more importantly from the point of view of the reigning regime, of it blowing up in the ruler's faces and removing them from power. No doubt the perceived wisdom is that it is safer to pretend it isn't there.

snpol
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Re: Putin to Make Equating Stalin, USSR to Hitler, Nazi Germany Illegal

Post by snpol » 25 May 2021 09:07

gebhk wrote:
25 May 2021 08:11
On the wider question - why? Perhaps I am just an old cynic, but I suspect these things usually revolve either around (1) economics and finance and (b) power games or both. And in this case (1) Russia's pocket would not be best served if its proud claim to be the legal continuation of the Soviet Union were to include legal responsibility of said Union's crimes on the German model - ie be expected to pay compensation to the victims, as Germany still does.
Alleged Soviet crimes in Germany and elsewhere in Europe is a matter of thoughtful scientific discussion. Hardly one could expect that Moscow will recognise any form of legal responsibility without factual information about alleged crimes. Also scale of war crimes (by the Axis powers) on the Soviet soil should be taken into account.
gebhk wrote:
25 May 2021 08:11
With regard to (b), having flogged that old chestnut (we are nice because X is far worse - still being flogged today and some people still buy it amazingly enough) for all it was worth for over a hundred years, the Russian Federation population is likely to be strongly influenced by this viewpoint. No one who can be reasonably viewed as a successor to the Soviet regime can be comfortable with the idea that they might be aligned in the public mind with the biggest bogeyman in the gallery, especially if either their grip on power is slipping or their political aim is to return more closely to the ethos and methods of that regime (or both).
In fact the Soviet Union remained just Russia by another name. Of course attitudes to the Soviet past, to history of the Soviet period in the West and in modern Russia are quite different. There are different views, estimates. But it is normal situation. It would be strange to see another picture.
gebhk wrote:
25 May 2021 08:11
Unfortunately for the current rulers of the Russian Federation, the comparisons, at least as far as outcomes are considered, are self-evident...
I dare to disagree. They are not so obvious, self-evident, as you suggest.
gebhk wrote:
25 May 2021 08:11
... and compelling and therefore a useful and self-made stick to beat them with by their political opponents whether internal or external.
The legislation in question is not something exceptional. The Holocaust denial is prohibited and punished in many countries along with denial of Armenian genocide. There are other examples. Let's look at Poland
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/ ... -holocaust
The Amended Act on the Institute of National Remembrance, passed by the Polish Sejm on 26 January to the next stage of legislation, introduces criminal penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment for “public and contrary-to-fact conduct that attributes responsibility or co-responsibility for Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich to the Polish nation or the Polish state”.
gebhk wrote:
25 May 2021 08:11
As Sid says, the only way to remove this stick, ls for Russia to make an honest reckoning with the past. However that carries the risks both financial and, more importantly from the point of view of the reigning regime, of it blowing up in the ruler's faces and removing them from power. No doubt the perceived wisdom is that it is safer to pretend it isn't there.
It is possible only as a result of historical discussion with facts on hands, with thoughtful analysis. As the first step international historical forums as AHF should become places where freedom of speech is paramount and where forumists are not banned for laughable reasons.

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