Deja Vu

Remembering the collapse of the Union, and how millions of people in Moscow…

One ancient sage once said: “Masquerade is arranged for everyone to be able to show one’s face.” Masquerade tradition in Russia, like many similar forms of public entertainment, is still alive at the household level among Russians, already from the time of Peter the Great. But what do people in Russia are witnessing today is carried out on a political level and not by anyone else, but by the modern inhabitants of the Kremlin. And the last masquerade newfound Russian “Iron Felix”, under the auspices of “protecting Russians in Ukraine” has led many to ask this question.

Remembering the collapse of the Union, and how millions of people in Moscow and throughout Russia went to rallies in the early 90s and then comparing what is happening now, so that we see today in this country, you find yourself wondering why it became possible again plunge into Russian Soviet abyss of obscurantism? Why back to the Cold War between the West and Russia? Finally, how could this happen, that Moscow declared war on Kiev which Russia’s parliament, without batting an eye, unanimously approved a military intervention on the territory of the brotherly nation.

For answers to these and many other questions, it is important to make an excursion into the recent history and look at the way for some 22 years after the collapse of Soviet Union the former allies of the Warsaw Pact countries and the Baltic countries on the one hand and Russia with its political satellites of the former Soviet republics, on the other hand began to live differently economically and politically. And the main reason for this discrepancy lies in the political arena, as in the former Baltic republics was held the complete de-Sovietization of the entire system of  the government and laws of lustration were passed, while in Russia and the former Soviet republics, political elites of these countries were afraid to do it.

It was the first major mistake of all leaders of former Soviet republics, which then came to power on a wave of democratic change. Yeltsin, Shushkevich, Kravchuk, Elchibey Gamsakhurdia, Ter-Petrosyan and the leaders of the Central Asian republics, have not been able to overcome this barrier a “check for lice“, thus giving the opportunity to the party nomenclature of these countries, together with the special services of the KGB, to take revenge and return lost positions.

This assessment of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which led to the annexation of the Baltic states, Katyn tragedy, for many years the partition of Poland and Russia, it’s annexation of Western Ukraine and Western Belarus, all these facts are very relevant to all those in the republics of the former Soviet Union, who with arms in the hands fought against the Soviets – the Musavat in Azerbaijan, Armenia’s Dashnaks, SRs in Georgia, Basmachis in Central Asia, Banderovites in Ukraine, Baltic forest brothers. And the main question here is the question in assessing their performance. If you for Soviet power, then they all are bandits, if against, they are all heroes.

It is very important to note that since coming to power in Georgia, President Saakashvili launched the process of de-Sovietization: Soviet occupation museum was opened, demolished all monuments to Stalin, Lenin and other Soviet-era idols, passed a law on lustration. Naturally, it was perceived hostile to the Putin’s regime, which led to a sharp escalation in relations between Moscow and Tbilisi in the beginning of the Russian aggression in Georgia in August 2008. But despite the annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the new Georgian leaders were able to defend their independence and turned the country toward European integration.

In Ukraine, after the “orange revolution” and the coming to power of President Yushchenko there were also attempts to start processes of de-Sovietization of the country. Unfortunately, the power struggle inside the “orange” team between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko have made half-hearted reforms, which ultimately led to the pro-Russian government of President Viktor Yanukovych, who immediately cancelled  provoked by Putin, many anti-Soviet decrees of Yushchenko, thereby returning to Ukraine in the bosom of Russian interests. And if we add to this the fact that over the years, the level of corruption has increased dramatically during Yanukovych presidency in the echelons of power, then you begin to understand what causes led a million people to the Maidan in Kiev.

Dissatisfaction with the Yanukovych demonstrated not only the entire western Ukraine, which historically does not accept the dictates of Moscow and its surrogates, but also loyal to Yanukovych eastern part of Ukraine, inhabited predominantly by Russian-speaking population. A refusal to sign in November 2013 at the Vilnius summit document an association with the European Union was a fuse that blew up the situation that led to his escape from the country. It is very characteristic that the demonstrations began with the collapse of monuments to Lenin, which is still very much symbolic across the country, thereby emphasizing the political implications of opposition.

It is time to understand that in today’s Ukraine faced the interests of those for radical changes in the country from the scoop to the side of European integration, with those who cling to the Soviet past and their attributes. Looks quite appropriate in this context, a Freudian slip, which made a quick Yanukovich at a press conference in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, saying: “Ukraine is our strategic partner.” As they say, no comment.

When I watched the meeting of the Russian parliament, where President Putin considers the appeal to the parliamentarians to invade Ukraine to protect the Russian-speaking population, I could not help feeling enveloped “deja vu”, as if I had heard somewhere a similar question, and even verbal momentum. I did not have to go far, since today in the age of the Internet, it can be checked quickly. Yes, dear readers, it looks like, up almost one to one, was delivered by Adolf Hitler in 1938 in the Bundestag, the German parliament before where this “great” Guardian for the purity of the German race, and pompously said millions of his blood brothers who were being illegally persecuted in the Sudetenland and then Czechoslovakia “are deprived of the right to self-determination.”    Whether such accidental coincidences and how correctly to draw parallels between the Nazi regime and those who today sits in the Kremlin? To answer this question, it would be very useful to remember 1933 and how could Hitler legitimately come to power, and how political elite in Germany and Europe’s political leaders in general “flirted” with him politically as well.

Let us remember in 1936, when with the support of many “toothless” world leaders, Hitler held in Berlin Olympic Games, making himself and his regime great PR. And only when he was completely blown away by the “dizziness from success,” it all led to the tragedy, not only in Germany and the German people, but to the most horrible tragedy of the XX century. Then we may recall Putin came to power, under the slogan “kill in the toilet,” then restoration of imperial rhetoric in relation with its neighbors, which gave him the opportunity to gain a foothold in power in the Kremlin, and remember about the August adventure in 2008 against Georgia and annexation of its territory, about which I have already mentioned earlier, and in the end, and remember the last Olympics in Sochi, on which Putin spent $ 50 billion, using it as a PR for his regime. Enough parallels or continue? The irony in the fact that according to the Kremlin-controlled, Russian media, all other opponents of the Soviet interpretation of history are called fascists, while as above parallels bring entirely different picture.

Without a doubt we cannot repeat similar mistakes in the modern world, we must remember well the lessons of history, that any modern “Fuhrer” is not drifting to the roof as it would be a tragedy for millions of people in his own country, and in neighboring states as well.

As for Russia and its society, as long as  painful rethinking of its recent history and repentance in front of millions of lives in the dungeons of Stalin’s camps, with all its bloody content, this vast country with its great culture, a country of Pushkin and Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky wont be understood soon by the civilized world. A prime example of this repentance may be the same Germany, which after the Nuremberg Tribunal to atone for the wrongs done to humanity by Hitler, and which today is the leader in Europe for democracy. This should particularly bother the Russians, as any crisis lays in the years ahead algorithm relations between people.

Especially when such unfortunate politicians such as Putin and Yanukovych want to start a war between the two brotherly peoples, what are the Ukrainians and Russians. And no judgment of history will not bring the dead, does not pay bills crippled life, will not heal the wounds caused by mutual hatred fostered by irresponsible policy of the Kremlin today’s admirers of Stalin’s policies. In truth, an elderly monk was right, who looked like father Zosima from the novel “The Brothers Karamazov”, with whom I had a chance to meet in the northern United States, in Jordanville, NY, in Holy Trinity Monastery, who said: “in Russia if there is a king then it is Susanin “…

Ramis Yunus is political expert, former Chief of Staff of Government of Azerbaijan and former Chief of Staff of Parliament of Azerbaijan.

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