Posted on Feb 13, 2020
As Russia prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, President Vladimir Putin is maintaining his defence of the heinous crimes of evil dictator Josef Stalin, and continues to resist calls to open up secret archives on the Soviet state’s killing of millions of its own citizens.
In Butovo, some 30 km outside Moscow, more than 20,000 of Stalin's many millions of victims lie in a mass grave: many, in a chilling precursor to the impending Nazi genocide, were gassed to death during Stalin’s “Great Terror” of 1937-38.
“We need to know the truth,” said Kirill Kaleda, a Russian Orthodox priest whose grandfather was among those killed and who’s part of a campaign for full disclosure of the fate of victims of Stalin’s repression. “We shouldn’t try to cover it up.”
As Russia prepares to hold commemorations in May of the end of what Russians call "the Great Patriotic War", Putin is trying to portray the events of the time though a "revisionist" narrative that edits out the facts of Stalin's pre-war pact with Hitler, by which the two dictators carved up conquered territories between them. Russia recently denounced a European Parliament resolution that equated Nazi Germany with the Soviet Union and said that the pact’s secret deal to carve up Poland and the Baltic States “paved the way” for war.
“They want to shift the blame for unleashing World War II from the Nazis to the Communists,” Putin said in the address broadcast on state TV.
Along with religion, or specifically the Russian Orthodox Church, effectively now the religious arm of the Kremlin, Putin seeks to place war victory at the centre of ideological efforts to rally Russians behind his vision of a powerful nation that’s unapologetic about its past and able to stand up to the West after the Soviet superpower’s humiliating collapse.
It’s a vision that flies in the face of the mass repressions under Stalin and the history of Soviet occupation of eastern Europe following the war. Preparations for the WWII anniversary are also taking place in parallel with constitutional changes Putin’s pushing through that may allow him to continue ruling Russia after the end of his presidential term in 2024.
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