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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Weapon of history

Stanislav Kulchytsky: “The current Russian leadership is using whatever it can extract from history to boost Russia’s imperial traditions”
2 June, 2009 - 00:00

Last Sunday the Russian Information Agency Novosti published an interesting news item about the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Cyril consecrating the tombstones on the graves of the Russian General Anton Denikin and the well-known Russian philosopher writers, Ivan Ilyin and Ivan Shmelev, after which a requiem was held. Then Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin laid flowers on the graves of these Russian great power nationalists.

While laying the flowers on Denikin’s grave, Putin noted to Archimandrite Tikhon (Superior of the Sretensky Monastery) that Dekinin “never divided Russia and thought it was utterly unacceptable to bring the country to the point of being dismembered,” NEWSru.com reports.

As he was talking to journalists after the ceremony, Putin asked them if they had read Denikin’s diaries, to which he got a vaguely negative reply coupled with a promise to do so. “You absolutely must do it! There you’ll find his reflections about Great and Little Russia. He says that no one should be allowed to interfere in our mutual relations, it has always been the concern of Russia’s alone! … It’s a crime when someone only begins to talk about the separation of Russia and the Ukraine, even if it should be White movement members or foreigners,” Putin said.

According to Archimandrite Tikhon, who was accompanying Putin, Putin told him that reading Denikin’s diaries had turned around his attitude to the general and changed “his view on Denikin’s role in history.” “Putin recalled reading Denikin’s memoirs in which the latter says that, even despite his hate for the Soviet regime, a mere thought of Russia’s division is crime in itself. One of the main messages in Denikin’s literary and political work is that Russia’s division is unacceptable, especially with regard to the Little Russian land, the Ukraine,” Tikhon said.

Laying the flowers on the tombstone of Ivan Ilyin, Putin talked at length about this philosopher whom he holds in high respect. He often peruses Ilyin’s “What dismembering of Russia entails for the world”. Putin quoted ideas and excerpts from this work in his speeches on numerous occasions. In this piece Ilyin warns that a division of Russia will inevitably lead to a catastrophe.

In the graveyard of the Donskoy monastery, between the tombs of Denikin and Ilyin, rests Vladimir Kappel. a White Army general whose courage was also mentioned by Putin. Besides, flowers were laid on the grave of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Putin remarked that all these men were “true statesmen… their main distinctive feature was deep and faithful love for their homeland, Russia, and true patriotism… Tragic times, heroic men.”

Talking to Archimandrite Tikhon, Putin remembered that every time when he met Alexander Solzhenitsyn he “was astonished to see just how natural and convinced a statesman Solzhenitsyn was. … He could oppose the regime and be at odds with the state power, but the state was a constant for him.”


Stanislav Kultchytsky, Ph.D., professor, deputy director of the Institute of Ukrainian History at Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences:

“Vladimir Putin said a long time ago that the fall of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century. Anton Denikin was just the man who opposed the collapse of the Russian Empire and did a lot to help avoid it. But both General Denikin and General Wrangel eventually lost out. After Denikin’s failure in Ukraine, he could have agreed to some face-saving steps to satisfy the demands of the Ukrainian national movement in the struggle against the Bolsheviks, but he didn’t, and so the White movement suffered a historic defeat. “The Russia of today is utilizing both its Bolshevik heritage, above all. the victory in the Second World War, and its pre-revolutionary history. Which is to say, the current Russian leadership is using everything it can extract from history to boost the country’s imperial traditions. Clearly, these traditions are sure to collide, but there are politicians in Russia who are hushing up these clashes. Anyone who acted in favor of the Russian or Soviet empires is now enjoying great (and often engineered) popularity in Russia. “In my opinion, Ukraine shouldn’t react to Putin’s words. It is their vision and evaluation of history. We have a view of our own. For Ukraine the Denikin period became a kind of a popular bugaboo, which made the grip of Soviet Russia on Ukraine appear more acceptable. Thus the White Guards’ counterrevolution was a factor that strengthened the Soviet regime in Ukraine.”

By Ivan KAPSAMUN, The Day