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Why Russians Long for the Soviet Union

Published: April 2, 2014 (Issue # 1804)


If you read Russian news and follow Internet debates, youd think that Russia was on the verge of civil war if you didnt know better. Like in other civil wars, the front line runs between colleagues, friends and even family members. The division is over the annexation of Crimea and attitudes toward Ukraine.

Old friends break off relations, children have stopped talking to their parents, and Ive even heard about divorces. It is insane, the prominent psychologist Lyudmila Petranovskaya wrote on her LiveJournal blog.

President Vladimir Putin set the aggressive tone of the debate in his Crimea speech two weeks ago by calling the new Ukrainian authorities neo-Nazis and Russophobes. Moreover, he called Russians who are opposed to the annexation national traitors, a term that Hitler notably used against those who disagreed with him. His words were instantly echoed in official mass media and pro-Kremlin blogs.

In the State Duma, a group of legislators accused Ilya Ponomaryov, the only deputy who voted against the annexation of Crimea, of treason and demanded that he be stripped of this mandate.

The Crimean front line crossed the usual party divisions. Apparently, Russia only has two parties: the party of war and the party of peace. The popular, once-liberal municipal deputy Yelena Tkach shocked many supporters when she demanded that the Constitution be amended to allow a new law to punish national traitors by stripping them of their citizenship. Meanwhile, whistleblower Alexei Navalny, who many consider to be a nationalist, came out squarely against the annexation of Crimea and supported Western sanctions against Putins inner circle.

Left-wing leaders vociferously criticized the oligarchic regime one day and supported it wholeheartedly the next. Even Sergei Udaltsov, the Left Front leader on trial for charges that he organized riots in 2012, wrote an appeal to Ukrainians supporting the Kremlin plan for self-determination in eastern Ukraine.

I was born in the Soviet Union, wrote Udaltsov on his movements website, and it will always be my homeland. Those who destroyed it and their supporters today will always be my political opponents. The rebirth of the Soviet Union in new forms is necessary, crucial and urgent.

Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist Ulyana Skoibeda, whose claim to fame is the scandal last year when she regretted that the ancestors of todays Jewish opposition activists hadnt been killed by the Nazis, was ecstatic over the Crimean annexation.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Sept. 16


Lenexpo plays host to Tekhnodrev, a three-day convention that focuses on the woodworking industry in Russia. Promoting the latest technologies and trends, the event features not only exhibitors from some of Russias largest woodworking companies but representatives of the forestry industry, who will have their own coinciding forum.


Parlez-vous français? We dont here at The St. Petersburg Times but that doesnt mean you cant. Join the British Book Centers French Club meeting this evening at 6 p.m. in their location near Technologichesky Institut metro station.



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