October 30 saw one of the most important moments so far of Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency in Russia. On a video blog posted on the presidential website, he squarely addressed the issue of the mass repressions carried out under Josef Stalin, the Soviet dictator from the mid-1920s to 1953. I agree with Tomas Hirst, who wrote on the Prospect magazine blog that this was a brave step on Medvedev’s part.
Medvedev didn’t simply condemn Stalin’s crimes. He criticised Russians – and, sad to say, there are an awful lot of them – who make excuses for Stalin by saying some supposed “supreme goals of the state” justified the arrest, deportation, imprisonment, execution and death by starvation of millions of people. It is still quite common to hear Russians defend Stalin by saying that he led the Soviet Union to victory over Nazi Germany. Significantly, however, Medvedev entitles his video blog “Memory of National Tragedies is as Sacred as the Memory of Victories”. Read more