Igor Turitsyn: ”We observe a revival of the Nazi practices in the post-Soviet space"
On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory, Vestnik Kavkaza continues to publish a series of articles on the situation with the glorification of Nazism and the struggle against it in the post-Soviet space. Today, our interlocutor is the president of the Research Institute of History, Economics and Law, Doctor of Historical Sciences, professor Igor Turitsyn.
- Igor Viktorovich, in your opinion, what is the overall situation with the glorification of Nazism in the former Soviet republics?
- I think this is not just about heroization, but about the revival of Nazism. We observe this not only in the former Soviet republics but also in Western countries. For example, 3-4 years ago, my colleagues and I drew attention to a clear increase tendency of sharply rightist sentiments in Germany, revealed many signs of it. It is no accident that recently, a special resolution was adopted in Dresden against the fascist threat - the German authorities understand that this threat is increasing.
As for the post-Soviet space, here we see both heroization and the revival of Nazi practices. In some places, they have never seized to exist. Say, in the Baltic states, the nationalist practices even in extreme forms were present from the first days of the creation of these states. This was obvious when the people there were divided into first and second grade, citizens and non-citizens; there was a negative attitude towards the Russian population. Such a regime is essentially no different from the once-condemned apartheid in southern Africa.
We observe an active work with youth, the formation of a new and much more aggressive generation of nationalists based on the heroized Nazi tradition. Ukraine is the most dangerous in this regard: as a result of recent events, we have a large state on the western borders, where the youth is largely reformatted. Ukrainian authors are often afraid to publish their books in Russia, and directly say in private conversations that this is very dangerous for them. Is this not a sign of Nazism?
Each country has its specifics, and Ukraine, as a state entity that does not have any old traditions, is trying to create its own story. Attempts to build a historical tradition, to form an important component of national identity - national memory - deserve respect. But from the very beginning, a mistake was made - this process headed structures, primarily foreign ones, that revived the Bandera movement.
As you know, for the founders of Ukrainian nationalism, the model was Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and it was no coincidence that they joined the Bandera organizations, the OUN. After the occupation, they formed the local administrative apparatus, headed political administrations and various police units. Only when the war enrolled to the west and our army went to the border of Ukraine and began liberation, they decided to present themselves as fighters against fascism, although there is no evidence of any killed Germans, the Wehrmacht did not suffer any losses from the Banderovites’ actions. There are plenty of documents that confirm they were outright collaborators; Bandera was a Nazi captain.
In this regard, after Ukraine set a course to revive the Bandera movement, the restoration of Nazi movements was inevitable. The danger is that this process will gain strength, and we will see the threat becoming real. Sooner or later, this development can be used to carry out certain provocations by Ukraine - not by Ukrainians, the most of who are very friendly to Russians but the Nazis who are now organized, receive the necessary funding and, in fact, control the situation in the country.
- Has the attitude to the Nazism and accomplices of Nazism glorification changed in Ukraine under Vladimir Zelensky?
- Objectively, Zelensky as a smart enough person wants to change the situation, but his capabilities are more than limited. He is not a politician, there is no political structure behind him, and the forces that brought him to power simply took advantage of Zelensky’s popularity as a person, without any intention to transfer to him the full management functions. He is forced to do what they say.
Of course, Zelensky’s attempts to seize the power de facto are not ruled out. We know many people that were misapprehended, even laughed at. For example, for a long time, no one from the party leadership perceived Stalin as an influential figure, but he managed to turn the tide in his favor. If Zelensky shows character, he will be able to change the situation for the better, because he is a completely tolerant person. Unfortunately, to perform this he should be a fighter, not a showman.
- Are there any positive changes concerning the history of the Great Patriotic War in the Baltic states?
- I think that so far there are no noticeable positive changes. In terms of scientific work with historians, our relations have never ceased. Yes, they are not eager to publish their works in Russia, just as we are not rushing there, but we have published joint publications, quite well-known and edited by our respected academicians. There were some controversial publications, but, nevertheless, such work was carried out. Further development of relations in the professional community at the level of historians from the Baltic states and Russian historians would be a good development, but I am not sure that the Baltic historians will be allowed to do this. There, control in the field of science is much tougher than in Russia. I should note that Russian historians are now much more free than not only Baltic but even American historians, as they can express their opinions more openly.
- In your estimation, did we succeed in eliminating the glorification of Nazism and its accomplices in Russia?
- I would not downplay the danger of the glorification of fascism in Russia. Naturally, the leadership of the country has a very strong opinion that this should not be allowed in any case. Naturally, we honor the memory of the Great Patriotic War heroes, and the glorification of Vlasov in Russia like Bandera in Ukraine is impossible today, although, in the past, there were such attempts, even thesis works were written on this topic. Thank God this is being suppressed now, which is right. There are generally recognized norms that do not allow the Nazism expansion in any form.
Meanwhile, unfortunately, we have serious problems. In particular, we observe Banderovites who openly declare that they consider Bandera a hero on TV. Why do we allow our media to broadcast such declarations? If a person on the Russian TV channels claims that Bandera is a hero, this is the connivance of the Nasizm propaganda. These people all the time participate in the TV shows, and, in fact, they distort in general the nature of relations between Russians and Ukrainians. There are many sane politicians in Ukraine, but they are not the main stars of Russian political talk shows.
In general, the threat of Nazi rebirth is increasing worldwide. This is happening directly at our borders, in the former republics of the Soviet Union; in our country, I would not rule out the prospect of similar development. It’s good that we are fighting hard enough against Nazism, but we must be consistent in this struggle.