In the early 1990s, word spread throughout America that the AIDS virus had been created by the U.S government in order to wipe out black people and other minorities. This contention was endorsed by Spike Lee and other influential Americans. I quote several of them in Impromptus today, here.
Where had this rumor — this conspiracy theory — come from? It was planted by the Soviet Union in the 1980s. The Kremlin is still up to those tricks, attempting to sow discord in foreign countries, including the United States — and succeeding.
In the decade of the 2000s, when I would write about Putin’s authoritarianism at home and trouble-making abroad, the Left would say, “Today’s Russia is not the Soviet Union, you know! Quit trying to bring back the Cold War, you nostalgist!” These days, it is more apt to be the Right that says such things.
I always say — to either Left or Right — “Oh, I know that today’s Russia is not the Soviet Union. Do Putin and his guys know it? Because they are aping the Soviet Union more and more, in manifold ways.”
There is a lot more in Impromptus today, of course, including Turkey, North Korea, presidential politics, language, and sports. Here in this blogpost, I’d like to return to Russia for a moment.
Two years ago, I wrote about a horrible case, that of Yuri Dmitriev. I quoted a journalist, Maria Eismont, who said, “The Yuri Dmitriev case is, perhaps, the most important thing happening in Russia right now.” Let me excerpt a little of my piece, for a refresher:
Dmitriev is a legendary researcher in Karelia, the region in northwest Russia. He is legendary for grave-hunting. He finds mass graves of the Stalin era; he identifies the victims therein; and he honors them. For many years, he has been associated with a group called “Memorial.”
Memorial was founded at the instigation of Andrei Sakharov, the great physicist and dissident. Its purpose is to promote the truth about the past, and to promote democracy in the present.
Dmitriev, of course, was arrested, on the charges that the Kremlin has used for decades and decades — in the Soviet period and the Putin period alike: child porn, child molestation, etc. The same old game, the dirtiest card in the KGB deck.
I am bringing up the Dmitriev case again because of a new article from the Voice of America: “No End in Sight for Jailed Gulag Historian Yury Dmitriyev.” In it, the author, Jamie Dettmer, quotes Vladimir Kara-Murza, the Russian democracy leader (who has been poisoned almost to death — twice). Kara-Murza says that the Kremlin has slowly but surely rehabilitated Stalin, justifying his mass murder in the process.
Yes. This is a huge story, under-covered in the West. But then, there is so much — to cover.