Nostalgia for Stalin and the Soviet Union in Ukraine

This is big.

Officials of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine (highlighted below), which are under the administration and control of pro-Russian separatists, have ordered propaganda posters honoring Joseph Stalin to be publicly displayed.

This would be like breakaway Polish officials honoring Hitler.

The regions of Luhansk (north) and Donetsk (south)

The regions of Luhansk (north) and Donetsk (south)

The Tribune de Genève, a Swiss-French newspaper, reports the support of Stalin both the government and public in this rebel-controlled cities of Stalin, and the desire to go back to the days of the Soviet Union.

From the Russian-language site RT (my translation):

 TDG: While Ukraine forbids everything Soviet, Donbass glorifies Stalin

In contrast to Kiev, which forbade Soviet symbols, equating it to the Nazis, the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine feel nostalgic for the Soviet Union, writes the Tribune de Genève. So, the authorities in the city of Donetsk ordered to place posters with the image of Joseph Stalin and the slogan “Our cause is just”, thus indicating its intention to fight to the end.

“Our cause is just, the enemy will be defeated, victory will be ours” – this famous slogan said by Joseph Stalin at the beginning of the Second World War, reports the Tribune de Genève. From now on, it stands out under a huge portrait of the former Soviet leader, in front of the Opera of Donetsk. To this saying the pro-Russian leaders of the rebels in eastern Ukraine, the mood is “to complete his separatist drams.” Meanwhile, as a result of the conflict, eight thousand have been killed, the newspaper writes.

“I believe that the portrait of Stalin – it is good. This is our history, and many people have forgotten who he was,” a 22 year-old student Catherine, looking at one of the three large portraits of the Soviet leader. Evidently, she does not know about the horror of Stalin’s repression and famine, organized in the early thirties, whose victims have fallen from two to five million Ukrainians, reports Tribune de Genève.

Poster of Stalin in Ukraine

Poster of Stalin in Ukraine

In general, in the two Ukrainian breakaway regions that call themselves the People’s Republics, from the Soviet style, symbols are appearing throughout the former USSR, the newspaper notes. Thus, the emblem of the People’s Republic of Luhansk desperately resembles the emblems of the former Soviet republics: wheat stalks bordering a red star on the background of a bright sun, promising a bright future.

“The USSR was a great country, and it was a huge mistake to let the CIA and other intelligence agencies destroy it. Europe and other countries were very afraid of it,” said the leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko.

In addition, the internal security authorities of both breakaway republics are called MSS (Ministry of State Security), as well as Stalin’s secret police from 1946 to 1953, says the Tribune de Genève. And in Luhansk the minister for family and youth, Stanislav Vinokurov, proposed youth organizations inspired by “the principles of the Pioneers and the Communist Youth” from the time of the Soviet Union.

This year, for the first time Donetsk celebrated Pioneer Day on May 19, and later in the same month of the eightieth anniversary of the heroic deed of the Soviet miner [Alexey] Stakhanov. Also in honor of the Soviet hero, whose achievements are still disputed by historians, in Donetsk is an exhibition of paintings, painted in the style of socialist realism.

If it is remembered that in Ukraine laws have passed banning Soviet symbols on par with the Nazis’, the contrast is striking, emphasizes Tribune de Genève. And what is more, Ukrainian authorities ordered to dismantle Soviet monuments and decided to change all the names associated with the communist era.

Keep in mind that Joseph Stalin was the man responsible for the Great Purge from 1936 to 1938, which resulted in an estimated one million executions and even more arrests of supposed traitors and counter-revolutionaries to the USSR. Millions of people were deported and exiled to gulags on his orders. Stalin himself is directly responsible for the Holodomor, a man-made famine in Ukraine from 1932 to 1933 which killed between 2.5 to 7.5 million Ukrainians. This genocide, which some historians say is comparable to the Holocaust, is denied to this day by some state-run Russian media as a “hoax” and Western propaganda “in close cooperation with Nazi Germany” to discredit the Soviet Union.

The leaders of the breakaway regions want to go back to a time when Ukrainians were considered second-class, inferior, and subjugated to Russian superiority. The implications here cannot be ignored.

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