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The New Fifth Column

andrei vishinsky052809.jpgFrom Vladimir Ryzhkov’s column in the Moscow Times on the new history commission:

Now, the Kremlin leaders are reviving the Stalinist cult in order to justify their own violations of human rights. They believe that a “firm hand” is necessary to deal effectively with the Russian character and the country’s huge territorial expanse. The power vertical, we are told, is the most effective form of government for Russia, considering its “unique historical and cultural tradition.”

Moreover, the Kremlin interprets criticism of Stalin’s crimes as an attack on its own authoritarianism. This is not surprising considering that today’s leaders have made use of many weapons from Stalin’s arsenal by creating a police state and the myth that Russia is encircled by enemies, including a fifth column implanted inside the country.

It is highly symbolic that the freshly painted portrait of Stalin’s chief prosecutor-cum-henchman, Andrei Vyshinsky, who also served as foreign minister from 1949 to 1953, adorns the corridors of the Foreign Ministry. Vyshinsky summed up the struggle against Stalin’s enemies in an “academic article” in 1937, writing, “Their plots were exposed and the conspirators were seized and ruthlessly crushed.” A fitting battle cry for all of the siloviki in their efforts to fortify the power vertical even more.