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Vladimir Putin


  • Originally published 03/24/2014

    Enough With the Hitler Analogies

    Our understanding of World War II has been deeply enriched by a memory boom of books and research. The same cannot be said by the Hitler analogy boom.

  • Originally published 03/20/2014

    Cold Man in the Kremlin

    When Putin described the breakup of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century, he meant it.

  • Originally published 02/04/2014

    Don’t Let Putin Grab Ukraine

    If the present crisis ends with the fragmentation of the Ukrainian state, the result will be disastrous for all concerned, including Russia.

  • Originally published 11/03/2013

    Is the Arab World Shifting to Russia?

    In the 1960s, America competed with the Soviet Union for influence in the Arab world. Is it back to the future for diplomacy in the Middle East?

  • Originally published 09/05/2013

    Putin's No Stalin

    Sure, he's a repressive autocrat, but Putin hasn't killed millions of people.

  • Originally published 08/13/2013

    Paul Kennedy: The Great Powers, Then and Now

    Paul Kennedy is Dilworth Professor of History and director of International Security Studies at Yale University. His books include “The Rise and Fall of The Great Powers,” and, most recently, “Engineers of Victory.”So President Obama won’t have a one-on-one conference with his Russian equivalent, Vladimir Putin, at the time of the G-20 meeting in Moscow, partly because of a nondescript “leaker,” Edward Snowden — that is not good. So Chinese public opinion (however that is cooked up) seems to be ever more nationalistic these days, while Japan launches its first aircraft carrier since the Pacific War — surely also not good.So America’s National Security Agency looks as if it is spying on everyone, domestic and foreign, producing bouts of outrage — that is a bad business. So the European Union is as divided, confused, angry and leaderless as, say, the former Holy Roman Empire — this is surely not good. There’s more: Argentina is huffing and puffing about the Falklands, and Spain is huffing and puffing about Gibraltar. Not good at all.

  • Originally published 06/19/2013

    Russian textbooks to present "balanced" view of Stalin

    ...[New Russian history] guidelines [proposed by Vladimir Putin] ... attempt to paint a “balanced” picture of Stalin’s rule. They describe Stalin as a modernizer who brought about Russia’s ultra-fast industrialization, laid the foundation for the Soviet Union’s scientific achievements and its victory in World War II, but also orchestrated mass purges “to liquidate a potential fifth column” and used forced labor to achieve an economic breakthrough.The soft-lens picture of Stalin is consistent with some of Putin’s utterances on the tyrant. “I very much doubt that had Stalin had the atomic bomb in the spring of 1945, he would have used it on Germany,” Putin said during a recent visit to the state-owned Russia Today TV station.

  • Originally published 06/18/2013

    Facing a dark past in Russia

    IN SOVIET times, it was the ideological caprice of the moment, rather than any open-ended research into the past, that determined how people were taught to view the different phases of their country's history. In the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution, official history lessons denounced the Tsars for their cruel treatment of smaller nations. Then the Russian empire was rehabilitated as a "lesser evil" than its weaker neighbours; and as Stalin's repression reached its height, his regime and its ideological masters began to find merit in the savageries of Ivan the Terrible. There was a sardonic saying that summed up these dizzying fluctuations: "The future is known—it's always bright—but the past keeps changing."  

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    Debate rages in Russia over history textbooks

    As part of his effort to promote patriotism among younger generations of Russians, President Vladimir Putin has proposed creating a single set of history textbooks for schoolchildren, arguing that there should be more consistency in what students are taught and that textbooks should be free of internal contradictions and ambiguities.Speaking at a meeting of the Kremlin council on interethnic relations in February, Putin said textbooks must be "designed for different ages but built around a single concept, with the logical continuity of Russian history, the relationship between the different stages in history, and respect for all the pages of our past." He called for specific proposals to be prepared by November.Advocates of the new textbooks say discord in the historical narrative has brought about a lack of patriotism in the country, while opponents say they fear that failures of state policies will be omitted to promote a more positive image of the country, with the emphasis exclusively on victories and achievements....

  • Originally published 03/27/2013

    Russia’s History Is Too Tragic and Its Society Too Complex to Fit into Putin’s Worldview

    A stunning historical discovery was made at the first meeting of the revived Russian Military History Society when President Vladimir Putin asserted that the Bolsheviks used Finnish “armed formations” for executing the coup in October 1917 (Rossiskaya Gazeta, March 14). Even more remarkable was his reinterpretation of the Winter War with Finland (1939–1940) as not an act of aggression aimed at subjugating a neighbor that rejected the Communist model, but merely an attempt to correct earlier mistakes of drawing the border too close to St. Petersburg (Vedomosti, March 14). Putin conceded that the first months of that war were “bloody and inefficient” but concluded on a positive note that necessary forces were eventually mobilized and “everything fell into their right places” so that “the other side felt the entire might of the Russian—then Soviet—state” (RIA Novosti, March 14). This glorification of Stalin’s militaristic expansionism adds only a tiny fresh dose of poison to Russian-Finnish relations, but it speaks volumes about Putin’s perception of the modern world and Russia’s place in it.... 

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    The Cossacks Are Back. May the Hills Tremble.

    STAVROPOL, Russia — Outside this city’s police headquarters on a recent night, a priest in a purple velvet hat and gold stole moved from one man to the next, offering a cross to be kissed and drenching their faces with holy water from a long brush.And so began another night of law enforcement as Cossacks, the fierce horsemen who once secured the frontier for the Russian empire, marched out to join the police patrolling the city....The Kremlin is dipping into a deep pool of history: Cossacks are revered here for their bravery and pre-modern code of honor, like cowboys in the United States or samurai in Japan. But their legacy is bound up with battle and vigilante-style violence, including campaigns against Turks, Jews and Muslim highlanders.These days men in Cossack uniforms are making appearances all over Russia, carrying out blustery raids of art exhibits, museums and theaters as standard-bearers for a resurgent church. But here on Russia’s southern flank, the Cossack revival is more than an idea. Regional leaders are granting them an increasing role in law enforcement, in some cases explicitly asking them to stem an influx of ethnic minorities, mainly Muslims from the Caucasus, into territory long dominated by Orthodox Slavs....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Meet Igor Fedyukin, Vladimir Putin's PhD hatchetman

    It’s an open secret in Russia today that many politicians and businessmen pad their resumes with fake diplomas, either plagiarizing their dissertations or paying someone to do it for roughly the cost of a midsize sedan. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, no real effort has been made to stop this practice, in part because so many of the country’s elite — all the way up to President Vladimir Putin — might have their graduate work scrutinized. But on Feb. 6, Putin’s political underling Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev broke the taboo. At a meeting with government officials and academics, he announced a campaign to ferret out fake degrees at every level of society. The number of “phony” diplomas had “burst through all possible limits,” Medvedev said. “This will be a sort of purge.” So how far is he willing to go?...

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