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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

Monday, Oct. 20


Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphotos exhibition On Both Sides, chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).



Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organizations office.


Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Centers series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this months lessons being visual arts.



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