Debates on the historical roots of, and interrelationships between, the 20th-century totalitarian regimes — those of Stalin and Hitler in the first place — and on ways of coping with this explosive historical heritage appear to have finely exceeded the purely academic, narrow scope. After all, you have to find and neutralize the time bombs you have inherited from all those political leaders with their maniacal thirst for power.
On July 1, the Committee on Democracy of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution in Vilnius (capital city of Lithuania) entitled “Divided Europe Reunited: Promoting Human Rights and Civil Liberties in the OSCE Region in the 21st Century” tabled by the Lithuanian and Slovak delegations. This document equates the roles played by Stalinism and Nazism, and calls for a resolute international condemnation of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the totalitarian regimes. Russia, as a member of the OSCE, is called upon to refrain from demonstrations meant to whitewash the Soviet past and “to ensure that structures and patterns of behavior that embellish the past, attempt to return to it or… extend them into the future, resisting full democratization, will be fully dismantled…” (obviously addressing Russia’s notorious history falsification commission established by President Medvedev’s edict). The document further reads that August 23, when the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact was signed 70 years ago, will be proclaimed Europe’s Day of Remembrance for the victims of Stalinism and Nazism, in order to preserve the memory of the victims of mass deportations and exterminations. (An absolutely justifiable, well-grounded clause, except that the authors should have mentioned Sept. 29, 1938, the date of the Munich conspiracy that prompted Hitler to launch his aggression.)
This document was voted for by 30 deputies from 14 countries. Naturally, the attitude to this resolution was, mildly speaking, versatile. Russia’s officials promptly made it clear that they regard it as a “new political demarche against Russia,” “another insulting act,” and “an act of violence against history.”
The Day asked its experts for comment.
Dr. Stanislav KULCHYTSKY, Ph.D. (History), deputy director, Institute of History at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NANU):
“I think that the notion of Stalinism does not exist; Leninism and Stalinism should be referred to as Bolshevism. What Lenin failed to accomplish was accomplished by Stalin.
Lenin launched the first “communist storming” by creating a command economy; Stalin launched the second one by laying the foundations of the communist system. Stalin played a tremendously important role in establishing the Soviet Union, yet referring to this period as Stalinism appears ungrounded because Stalin made no theoretical contributions to Lenin’s doctrine. The only thing that equates Nazism, Bolshevism, and fascism is that these are totalitarian regimes.
“I realize that the year 2009 marks a jubilee of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, but it is impossible to hold [today’s] Russia responsible for it. It is true that Bolshevism was born in Russia, but it was also supported by Ukraine and other countries. Therefore, I don’t think that Russia will have to make any compensations. Russia and Ukraine are on the same cultural level. The OSCE resolution generally reaffirms Ukraine’s view on history. Russia, naturally, has its own view, but this time Europe has reaffirmed its support of Ukraine.”
Dr. Volodymyr PANCHENKO, Ph.D. (Philology), Kyiv Mohyla National University:
“I attach a great deal of importance to this event, considering that Stalinism is when a dead man grasps the feet of a living one. On the one hand, Stalinism appears to be a fact of Soviet history, although it has typological phenomena in many other post-communist countries; on the other hand, while having gone down in history, it remains in the social mentality. Stalinism is rooted in Marxism and Leninism, it is a logical sequel to what one can read in the Communist Manifesto sired by Marx and Engels. Vladimir Lenin was the first to allow the usage of terror. In my opinion, it would be more proper to equate Communism with Nazism because Stalinism is just a variety of this communist practice.
“With regard to Ukraine, [this document] is a loud and clear signal of full-scope moral support. We must ponder the way we bade farewell to Stalinism. After all, we have the communist faction in our parliament that has never condemned anyone or anything; the Communist Party of Ukraine has never disowned Stalinism. Considering that we have people who vote for CPU members to become members of parliament, Stalinism is still alive within Ukrainian society.”