Moscow, Kiev Grapple With Historic Ties to Prince Vladimir

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – July 29, 2015) Tuesday marked the passage of a millennium since the death of Vladimir the Great. As both Kiev and Moscow honored the occasion with high-profile celebrations, leaders of each took advantage of the opportunity to emphasize the strength of their own countries’ ties to the medieval ruler. Prince Vladimir is […]

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Architects Clash Over Vladimir Monument

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 29, 2015) On Monday evening, Rustam Rakhmatullin, the coordinator of the social movement Archnadzor, brought together eminent architects and architecture experts to discuss the proposals to erect a 24-meter monument to Vladimir the Great in the capital. Also present was Yury Nikiforov, a representative of the Russian Society of War History, which has started […]

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NEWSWATCH Christian Science Monitor: Living on Prussia’s ruins, Kaliningraders embrace Germanic past

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

The Christian Science Monitor covers some of the interplay in Kaliningrad between Germanic cultural history and more recent Russian control, amidst Russia’s tensions with the West over Ukraine. … a growing movement of mainly younger Kaliningraders – supported by local government – … are working to roll back the Soviet-imposed amnesia that convinced generations of people who grew up on this ancient territory […]

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OBITUARY: Gennady Seleznyov, night rider of Russia’s rowdy parliament

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Nick Allen in Berlin – July 23, 2015) With President Vladimir Putin’s executive fist dominating the ‘vertical of power’, while parliament toes the Kremlin line, it’s easy to forget Russia’s heyday of real rough-and-tumble oppositional party politics in the first years after the Soviet collapse. So defiant from the outset was the legislature, still […]

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Gorbachev Urges Renewed Ties With West

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – July 22, 2015) Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said that problems inherited from previous eras are holding Russia back and urged Western leaders to restore ties with Moscow instead of trying to “provoke” it during a book presentation Tuesday, Russian media reports said. “Many are trying to provoke Russia now,” Gorbachev said […]

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The Public’s Top Picks for the Pedestal on Lubyanka Square

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Maria Naum – July 17, 2015) On Aug. 22, 1991 at the peak of euphoria over the failure of the coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police, was pulled from its pedestal on Lubyanka Square. Since then, the square has remained empty as the public and authorities […]

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NEWSWATCH New York Times/Andrei Kozyrev: Russia’s Coming Regime Change

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

Writing in The New York Times, former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev addresses the future of Russian governance in the face of multiple economic, political and international challenges. The firmness of the West in protecting the sovereignty of Ukraine and restoring its territorial integrity is a prerequisite not only to rein in the Kremlin’s aggressive impulses, but also to engage […]

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Why Russians fear August

Forest Fire file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Chris Weafer of Macro-Advisory – July 10, 2015) As we all know only too well, winters are long and cold in Russia while summers are relatively short but quite pleasant. Once Easter has passed, people start marking the calendar until they can throw off their winter armour and re-open their dachas. August is the […]

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Primakov was Putinism’s ‘Godfather,’ Russian Analysts Say

Yevgeny Primakov file photo, with William Cohen in partial profile

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 28, 2015) Many Western obituaries and appreciations of the late Yevgeny Primakov portray him as an alternative to Vladimir Putin and someone who would have led Russia in an entirely different direction than the current Kremlin leader. But two Russian analysts argue that in fact Primakov laid much of the groundwork […]

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NEWSWATCH Deseret News: This week in history: Napoleon invades Russia

Painting of Napoleon on Throne in Regal Attire with Scepter

Deseret News marks the anniversary of Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia. On June 24, 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte made perhaps his greatest blunder by invading Russia. Though he recognized the dangers of invading such a huge country, political factors demanded that he move against Russia or risk losing French domination of Europe. * * * After the Battle of Borodino in […]

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Moscow Edges Closer to First Referendum Since Soviet Collapse

FSB Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – June 23, 2015) Moscow looks set to get its first referendum in post-Soviet times – and one of the burning issues on the ballot will be the restoration of a monument to the founder of the secret police to central Moscow. On June 11, the Moscow election committee approved the Communist Party’s […]

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How the Soviet Union Wrecked Russia’s Military-Industrial Complex

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – June 11, 2015) While Russia’s tussle with Ukraine may seem an unfair match, Ukraine does have one simple advantage – it makes a number of important vehicles and components that Russia needs to equip its military. After Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year, Kiev brought its leverage to play and placed a […]

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The uses and abuses of history

Berlin Wall, Fencing, Barbed Wire, Women

(opendemocracy.net – Rodric Braithwaite – June 8, 2015) Rodric Braithwaite is a British diplomat and author. From 1988 to 1992, Braithwaite served as British ambassador in Moscow, and is the author of Across the Moscow River: The World Turned Upside Down, Moscow 1941: A City and Its People at War and Afgantsy. History is nowadays not only written by the […]

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‘Russians are the Soviet Slaves of Today,’ Panfilov Says

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 10, 2015) The Soviet system transformed the population of the USSR into slaves of a particular type, and “the present-day Russian slave is a direct descendent of the Soviet ones,” according to Oleg Panfilov, the director of the Center for Extreme Journalism (2000-2010) and now a professor at Georgia’s Iliya State […]

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To Thomas Graham: We Should Understand Russian History Differently

Balaklava harbour, the cattle pier, Crimea, Ukraine, 1855; adapted from image at loc.gov; Fenton, Roger, 1819-1869, photographer;

(PONARS Eurasia – ponarseurasia.org – Ivan Kurilla, Professor of History Volgograd State University – June 5, 2015) In a recent Financial Times op-ed (“Europe’s Problem is with Russia, not Putin”) Thomas Graham, a managing director at Kissinger Associates and former senior director for Russia on the US National Security Council, makes far-reaching conclusions about contemporary Russia and international security by drawing on the position Russia […]

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Interfax: Documentary about 1968 events passes no judgments, features historians’, witnesses’ accounts – VGTRK

Berlin Wall, Fencing, Barbed Wire, Women

(Interfax – June 2, 2015) The all-Russia state television and radio broadcasting company VGTRK said the film, titled “Warsaw Treaty, the Declassified Pages” accumulates accounts by witnesses and participants in events dating back to 1968, without passing any judgments. “The film conveys opinions by historians, witnesses and participants in those events. Nothing is said in the voice-over narration that this […]

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Interfax: Book on Kremlin history since 12th century brought out in Russia

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Interfax – June 2, 2015) A book, titled ‘Moscow Kremlin. Monuments and Shrines’ was presented in Moscow on June 2. The author, spokesman for the Federal Security Guard Service Sergei Devyatov, said that he had worked on the book for about six years. The book has been released with a print run of 1,350 copies. It has more than 2,000 […]

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A dissident’s tale

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(opendemocracy.net – Gleb Morev, Gleb Pavlovsky – May 29, 2015) Gleb Morev is a Russian journalist and literary critic based in Moscow. He edits the Culture section of Colta.ru. One of the grey cardinals of modern Russian politics, Gleb Pavlovsky talks dissent, history and politics in the late-Soviet era. Born in Odessa in 1951, Gleb Pavlovsky is famed for being […]

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NEWSLINK Wall Street Journal: Ukraine Tries Adapting to Life Without Lenin. New law bans Soviet street names, statues and other reminders of communist past, as some question priorities

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

In a country where at least 4,000 localities had a main thoroughfare named after Lenin, outlawing remnants of the Soviet era like street names and statues was bound to cause problems.

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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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