Category Archives: History, Soviet Union

A Net Assessment of the World

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Stratfor.com – George Friedman – May 19, 2015 – stratfor.com/weekly/net-assessment-world) A pretentious title requires a modest beginning. The world has increasingly destabilized and it is necessary to try to state, as clearly as possible, what has happened and why. This is not because the world is uniquely disorderly; it is that disorder takes a different form each time, though it […]

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NEWSLINK Wall Street Journal: Waging Peace. Churchill requested plans for a British-American attack on Russia code-named “Operation Unthinkable.”

Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Crowd of Military Officers

The leaders of the Allied powers met three times during World War II, at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. The last conference stretched over 17 days in July and August 1945, longer than the first two put together. Harry Truman had replaced Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Chur  

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30 Years On, Gorbachev Rues Running of His Soviet Anti-Alcohol Campaign

Shelf of Alcoholic Beverages with Red and White Tape Across It

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – May 15, 2015) Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said that his massive anti-alcohol campaign in the 1980s was too swift and sweeping, and combating heavy drinking – which remains a major problem as Russia’s problem 30 years later – should have been handled more patiently, according to a recent interview. Speaking on […]

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Victory Day in Kyiv

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Ukraine has a new holiday – 8 May, Day of Remembrance – and a new symbol, the poppy. But 9 May remains, as a reminder of the fact that war is ‘never a pretty story.’ (opendemocracy.net – Natalia Antonova – May 11, 2015) Natalia Antonova was born in Kyiv and grew up in North Carolina. She works as a journalist […]

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Victory Day network session

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – May 8, 2015) The crowds in Moscow will be out in force on May 9 to watch what is expected to be the largest ever Victory Day celebration, with the traditional parade of military hardware through Moscow’s Red Square. But in terms of geopolitics the real event […]

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Gorbachev: Some Western leaders’ refusal to attend WWII commemorations in Moscow signals disrespect toward those who defeated fascism

File Photo of Parade in Red Square from 2005

(Interfax – May 7, 2015) Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev believes that the refusal of the leaders of some European countries and the United States to come to Moscow to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II on May 9 comes as a sign of disrespect toward the people of the former Soviet […]

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The Indelible Mark of World War II on Modern Russia

Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Crowd of Military Officers

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – May 7, 2015) Victory Day hits a raw nerve among Russians, likely owing to the fact that the vast majority of Russian families have been acutely impacted by World War II. President Vladimir Putin recently tapped into this widespread sentimentality with a rare act: he penned a family history, published in this […]

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A Guide to Celebrating Victory Day in Moscow

File Photo of Parade in Red Square from 2005

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Gladkova – May 6, 2015) Victory Day is coming and the capital is scrambling to prepare for Saturday’s celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany. The day will be bursting with activity, from a massive military parade replete with shiny new tanks and military vehicles of yore in the […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: A Parade Hailing Russia’s WWII Dead and Marching Further From the West

File Photo of Parade in Red Square from 2005

The New York Times covers Russia’s celebration of Victory Day amidst current international tensions. … Putin has recast what he calls the country’s most important holiday to celebrate the might of the Russian state, the days are over when … Western leaders joined Mr. Putin on the bleachers …. The nationalistic fervor surrounding the parade and the tensions over Ukraine mean that the […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. tried to help Russians.

Berlin Wall, Fencing, Barbed Wire, Women

Mr. Putin’s remarks reflect a deep-seated paranoia. It would be easy to dismiss this kind of rhetoric as intended for domestic consumption, an attempt to whip up support for his war adventure in Ukraine. In part, it is that. But Mr. Putin’s assertion that the West has been acting out of a desire to sunder Russia’s power and influence is a […]

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Putin’s Personality Cult Exceeds Stalin’s ‘by Every Measure,’ Kantor Says

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 29, 2015) Although few want to recognize that this is the case, the personality cult surrounding Vladimir Putin far exceeds the one that surrounded Stalin “by all measures” and has become what can best be described as “the religion of a pagan empire,” according to Moscow commentator Maksim Kantor. In a post […]

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Putin Opens Up About Parents’ World War II Experience

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 1, 2015) [Putin’s article with illustrations here http://ruspioner.ru/cool/m/single/4655] Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has written a magazine column about his parents’ struggles and hardships during World War II, but said they did not hate Nazi Germans – unlike his own generation that did. “There wasn’t a family who didn’t lose someone [during the war]. But they […]

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New website offers three centuries’ worth of historical statistics on Russia

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Interfax – April 27, 2015) A new electronic archive has been launched, making it possible to trace the social and economic development of Russia’s regions over the past three centuries. The Electronic Repository for Russian Historical Statistics [https://ristat.org/] was proposed and created by Gijs Kessler from the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and Andrei Markevich from the New […]

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Europe’s historic lack of economic engagement with Russia

Europe Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – COMMENT: Ousmène Mandeng in London – April 27, 2015) The alienation felt between the EU and Russia has seemingly deepened to a post-Soviet Union low. This may in large part be due to the fact that Europe has never fully engaged with Russia economically in the first place. At the third “East Forum Berlin” held on April […]

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Putin confesses he expected radical upturn in relations with West after fall of the Communist regime

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

(Interfax – April 26, 2015) There was no point in counting on radical changes in the West’s attitude to Russia after the fall of the Communist regime, as each country has its own geopolitical interests not linked to ideology, President Vladimir Putin said in a documentary, titled “President,” released by the Russia 1 television channel. “All of us had illusions. […]

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Muscovites Not Russians are the Problem, Shekhtman Says

Moscow Night Lights Satellite Image

(Paul Goble – Staunton, April 22, 2015) Four years ago, liberal Russians began to refer to the hurrah-patriots who opposed them as “vatniks,” a reference to the padded jackets such people often wore but used to designate their slavish support of the Kremlin and their hostility to the West and civilization. But now, Pavel Shekhtman suggests, that term should be […]

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Rifkind Tells Story of Gorbachev’s First Meeting With Margaret Thatcher

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Des Brown – April 21, 2015) Just over 30 years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The next day, The Times of London ran an editorial entitled “Mr Gorbachov’s Hour” – the British media had yet to learn to spell his name – saying that he could […]

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The rise and fall of the Russian oligarchy; Newly declassified U.S. documents, released to bne IntelliNews, show how Vladimir Putin’s candidacy was a compromise after a fierce battle between pro-US oligarchs and pro-state conservatives

yeltsin-putin-400

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Graham Stack – April 14, 2015) Fifteen years after the then unknown Vladimir Putin took over the Russian presidency, analysts still puzzle over how he arrived in the position. Newly declassified documents from President Bill Clinton’s administration, released to bne IntelliNews, show how Putin’s candidacy was a compromise after a fierce battle for power […]

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NEWSLINK Kyiv Post/Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group: Politicizing History: Parliament adopts Dangerously Divisive Laws

Rada File Photo

On April 9 Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada adopted four laws pertaining to Ukraine’s recent history, two of which at least are highly contentious, with the manner in which they were presented to parliament and voted on also grounds for concern.  At a time when Russia is waging undeclared war against Ukraine, the need for unity is paramount.  Instead, a majority in […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Closing the doors on a museum of political repression in Russia

St. Basil's Domes

The only museum of political repression set in an old Stalinist labor camp has closed, the latest casualty of the Russian government’s effort to silence independent voices. After a three-year struggle with the government of the Perm region, in the western foothills of the Ural Mountains, the nongovernmental organization that operated the museum, known officially as the Memorial Historical Center […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: Russian court refuses to rehabilitate Soviet-era commissar Yagoda

Joseph Stalin file photo

Russia’s highest court on Thursday refused to legally rehabilitate Genrikh Yagoda, the head of the Soviet-era NKVD secret police who oversaw Stalinist purges in the 1930s and set up the GULAG forced labor camps. Yagoda ran the NKVD between 1934 and 1936, was dismissed in 1937 and executed in 1938 for treason and conspiracy, becoming one of millions of victims […]

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Interfax: Poll: Almost a quarter of Russians regard Stalin’s death as loss of leader, teacher

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Interfax – April 1, 2015) Thirty-one percent of the respondents want Volgograd to be renamed to Stalingrad, and 69 percent are against.. Source: AFP / East News The attitude of Russians to Joseph Stalin has transformed in the past 15 years: the number of respondents who dislike or are disgusted by him has dropped from 27 percent in 2001 to […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: In Russia, Exhibition Seeks to Show Ivan Wasn’t So Terrible

File Image of Ivan the Terrible Etching, adapted from image at loc.gov

[“In Russia, Exhibition Seeks to Show Ivan Wasn’t So Terrible; Medieval-history show raises question if Russia’s often-bloody history is being whitewashed to fuel nationalist campaign” – Wall Street Journal – JAMES MARSON – March 31, 2015] The Wall Street Journal covers efforts to rehabilitate the image of Ivan the Terrible, and questions about whether revisions of historical accounts are aimed at remaking the […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times: Russian History Receives a Makeover That Starts With Ivan the Terrible

File Image of Ivan the Terrible Etching, adapted from image at loc.gov

[“Russian History Receives a Makeover That Starts With Ivan the Terrible” – New York Times – NEIL MacFARQUHAR and SOPHIA KISHKOVSKY – MARCH 30, 2015] The New York Times reports on a Russian historical exhibition that apparently attempts to rehabilitate the reputation of Ivan the Terrible, blaming foreigners for his negative image. Ivan the Terrible, the Russian czar, should really be considered […]

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NEWSWATCH BBC: Vladimir Putin’s formative German years

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

[“Vladimir Putin’s formative German years” – BBC News – Chris Bowlby – Dresden, March 27, 2015] The BBC covers some of Vladimir Putin’s experiences earlier in life, including his first foreign posting as a KGB officer, in East Germany during the collapse of Soviet Communism in eastern Europe. They also explore speculation about the lasting impact of those experiences upon Putin’s perspective towards […]

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NEWSLINK: i24news.tv: One man’s journey to the heartland of fascism. Hostility to minorities and attempts to rewrite Holocaust history …

Auschwitz Concentration Entrance with Sign Arbeit Macht Frei

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Baltic independence and more than a decade of full membership in the European Union and NATO. If the assumption was that those developments would cure Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian society from the scourges of fascism, racism, and anti-Semitism, the events of the past month clearly show that these plagues have not been eradicated. […]

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Paul Grenier: “A Conservative Russia? This Means War! (The Tragedy of American Ideology)”

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

Subject: A Conservative Russia? This Means War! (The Tragedy of American Ideology) Date: Mon, 23 Mar 2015 From: Paul Grenier <psgrenier@gmail.com> A Conservative Russia? This Means War! (The Tragedy of American Ideology) By Paul R. Grenier Paul Grenier is an essayist and translator who writes regularly on political-philosophical issues. After advanced study in Russian affairs, international relations and geography at […]

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The New Face of Appeasement

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 10, 2015) It is time to give Nevil Chamberlain a rest as the sole poster child for appeasement. Yes, he appeased Hitler in a hopeless quest to avoid war. He even was honest enough to say that was what he was doing. But when Hitler violated Munich and seized all of Czechoslovakia, […]

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Interfax: Comintern’s archive goes online

File Photo of Joseph Stalin and Sergei Kirov as Part of Group of Five, Next to Bust of Lenin, with Faces of Other Attendees Partially Blurred

MOSCOW. March 6 (Interfax) – The electronic archive of the Communist International (Comintern), with a database containing 1.5 million pages, has become available for free use on the Internet, says Andrei Artizov, the head of the Federal Archive Agency. “In accordance with the agency’s decision, the new electronic archive resource was converted on a new electronic platform and is now […]

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Nemtsov: Kremlin-Watchers Find Eerie Parallel In An 80-Year-Old Murder

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Daisy Sindelar – March 1, 2015) On December 1, 1934, a killing took place that would set the stage for one of the blackest chapters in Soviet history. The victim was Sergei Kirov, the popular head of the Leningrad Communist Party and one of the few men who could stand toe-to-toe with the increasingly powerful Soviet […]

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Putin Evokes Tolstoy 26 Years After Soviet Troops Pulled Out of Afghanistan

Soviet Era Afghan Soldiers with Flag

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 16, 2015) President Vladimir Putin marked the 26th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan Sunday, vindicating his country’s involvement in the Afghan War and praising novelist Leo Tolstoy’s moral teachings. “When years pass and more facts become known, we more clearly understand the reason why Soviet troops were sent to Afghanistan,” Putin […]

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Moscow Times: Five Cases of the U.S. Arming Foreign Fighters, And What They Led To

File Photo of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama Seated with Flags Behind

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Richard Ensor – February 10, 2015) With violence escalating in eastern Ukraine, the United States is considering sending lethal arms to Kiev to counter separatist forces that Washington claims are backed by Russia. The United States has a record of giving weapons to its allies around the world, but the strategy has not always been […]

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Interfax: Gorbachev says USA draws Russia into “new cold war”

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

(Interfax – Moscow, January 29, 2015) The USA has already draw Russia into a “cold war”, one cannot rule out that they may “take the risk” of taking further steps towards a real war, former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev has said. “Now one keeps hearing about sanctions against Russia from America and the European Union. Have they really completely lost […]

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Interfax: In 2008 crisis also came from abroad, Russia resolved problems by itself – Putin

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Desk

NOVO-OGARYOVO. Jan 21 (Interfax) – The current, critical situation in the Russian economy was provoked from abroad, President Vladimir Putin believes. “I want to remind you that this is not the first situation of its kind which we are going through. We went through the same thing in 2008 and 2009. Then the crisis also came from the outside, it […]

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Interfax: Monument to victims of political repression will be created in Sakharov Prospekt – Pamfilova

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

MOSCOW. Jan 15 (Interfax) – Russian human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova said the Russian administration has decided to erect a monument to victims of Soviet repression on Moscow’s Sakharov Prospekt. “We discussed several options and we decided that the Sakharov Prospekt is the best place. The president agreed with the proposal made by the working group. A political decision has […]

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Interfax: Putin to not attend Auschwitz liberation anniversary events in Poland

Auschwitz Concentration Entrance with Sign Arbeit Macht Frei

(Interfax – January 13, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland on January 27, although the Russian leader attaches great importance to all commemorative events, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told Interfax on Tuesday. “The president’s schedule does not include such a trip,” he […]

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RIA Novosti: Rostislav Ishchenko, 2015: Year of a Fundamental Turnabout

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(RIA Novosti – January 6, 2015) The world is entering 2015. People hope for better, but are preparing for the worst. It is hard to be optimists when the year is beginning to the salvoes of the incessant civil war in Ukraine, to Kiev’s threats to settle the problem of the Donbass and Crimea militarily before the end of 2015, […]

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In it together: How communal apartments shaped the outlook of generations

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – by Georgy Manaev- January 5, 2015) Communal apartments, where strangers lived as one big family, shaped many generations of Soviet and Russian citizens, and continue to exist even today. The lack of a private life, a striving to dole out rights and responsibilities equally, snitching, and a willingness to help one’s neighbors were […]

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Interfax: Ukraine crisis caused by USSR’s “reckless” dismantling – Gorbachev

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

(Interfax – Moscow, December 30, 2014) Former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev believes that the world was on the brink of a major disaster in 2014. In an interview with Interfax he said this concerned not just relations between Russia and Ukraine, Russia and the European Union, but events in global politics as a whole. As for relations between Ukraine and […]

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Russian Ruble’s 800-Year History Haunts Current Plunge

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – December 11, 2014) Sergei Sorokoumov has devoted the last quarter of a century to an attempt to raise Russian’s pride in the ruble, the country’s national currency since the 13th century. Recently Sorokoumov’s efforts seem to have become a thankless task. The Russian currency has lost over 40 percent against the U.S. […]

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Moscow Times: Theory Blaming West for Collapse of Soviet Union Gaining in Popularity, Poll Shows

Berlin Wall, Fencing, Barbed Wire, Women

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 3, 2014) More Russians blame the collapse of the Soviet Union on a “conspiracy” of hostile Western forces than seven years ago, in a sign the wave of anti-Western state media coverage unleashed during the Ukraine crisis is influencing Russians’ view of the past. A report published Monday by independent pollster Levada Center showed […]

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Historian on Spies and ‘Sosedki’ in Soviet 1960s

Stylized Artis Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Aliide Naylor – December 2, 2014) Historian Sheila Fitzpatrick first arrived in Russia as an Oxford student at the end of the 1960s. Before she and other students went, they had a meeting. “We were all summoned to the [British] Foreign Office to have a briefing. … We were taken down into a basement, with […]

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De-Stalinization Hasn’t Been Completed in Russia, Lukin Says

Joseph Stalin file photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, November 23, 2014) De-Stalinization will have occurred not when everyone denounces Stalin in a chorus at the direction of the state but rather when each person can assess him in his or her own way and have debates about him, Vladimir Lukin says. Unfortunately, Russia has not succeeded in taking that step […]

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Don’t speak, memory: Voice against Stalin’s crimes may soon be silenced

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Oleg Yegorov, special to RBTH – November 21, 2014) Russia’s supreme court is preparing to examine the lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Justice requesting to liquidate Memorial, Russia’s first organization dedicated to preserving the memory of Stalin’s repressions and victims. RBTH reports on who else is telling the truth about the past […]

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The difficulty of “Restoring Names” of the oppressed in today’s Russia

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Julia Reed in Moscow – November 12, 2014) Crimes? What crimes? In 1997, the then prime minister of Sweden, Goran Persson, heard on the radio the results of a survey that Swedish youth knew next to nothing about the Holocaust. Outraged by the finding, he got the support of parliament to create a national […]

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Re: Churchill and War with USSR

Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Crowd of Military Officers

Subject: Churchill and War with USSR Date: Mon, 10 Nov 2014 From: Jake Kipp <jacobkipp@cs.com> In May 1945 before he knew about the atomic bomb, Churchill asked the British General Staff under Field Marshal Alan Brooke to do a study of a possible war between attacking British, US, German, and Polish forces against the USSR with a start date of […]

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Putin’s Valdai Speech Echoes Not Churchill’s at Fulton but Hitler’s at Berchtesgaden, Illarionov Says

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, November 9, 2014) Some Moscow commentators have compared Vladimir Putin’s speech to the Valdai Club meeting in to Winston Churchill’s 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech at Fulton, Missouri, but the Kremlin leader’s remarks in fact are far closer to those delivered by Adolf Hitler to Neville Chamberlain at Berchtesgaden in 1938, according to […]

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Russians Dream of ‘Soviet Empire without Communists,’ Commentators Say

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, November 8, 2014) What Russians now have in the Russian Federation is a Soviet system without communism and its administrative arrangements, and what they dream of is “a Soviet empire without communists,” an entity not equivalent to the tsarist empire as some think but one that reflects their memories of the USSR. […]

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