mardi 23 juin 2009

Need to know more about Russia

The Estonian press writes a lot about Russia, but is too biased to give people, especially the younger generation not able to read Russian any more, a good picture of what is happening there. We are given reviews of very chauvinistic opinions and articles, and of the opinion columns of some voices of the radical opposition. I have several times urged our journalists to translate some opinion pages from RIAN and other publications, but so far without success. Thus our public probably doesn't know that even in the government-controlled websites there are articles discussing a potential power struggle between Putin and Medvedev, articles bashing the neo-Stalinists and the "derzhava-nostalgy". Russia is much more pluralistic than we want to acknowledge. On the shelves of our bookshops one can find books trying to prove that there existed a plot of generals against Stalin making the purges of the army in 1937-1938 inevitable, but also books trying to prove that there was no such plot. For some writers, Stalin was a great statesman, for some, a paranoic who nearly let Russia (aka Soviet Union) to be overrun by Hitler's divisions. Although Stalin seems still to be quite popular in the power structures, Solzhenitsyn is also popular and has become institutionalized as a classic. The students have to read history from some nationalistic textbooks, but at the same time they have to read Solzhenitsyn too. It means that they have to think with their own heads to find out where the truth lies. We must just wait and let this somewhat schizoid pluralism work. I hope that with every passing year, the chances of a neo-Stalinist takeover diminish, and even now they are negligeable. Russia is returning to its pre-revolution identity, an identity that is imperial and nationalistic, but not totalitarian.

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