Why Ukraine can, and Russia cannot…
My home country, the Czech Republic has long removed red stars, statues of Lenin, and painted Soviet tanks pink, and today it is ruled by a party headed by former Communist secret service collaborator in coalition with the Communist Party. While the foreign element of Soviet Communism was easily purged out of the streets, the mentality which elected Communists in 1946 did not go away. Some things take longer to die.
Statues of Lenin were an element of a foreign culture in Czechoslovakia, a cargo cult of the local Communist rulers. In Ukraine however, the symbols of Communism were very much an organic part of the landscape. Although, today Lenin will not get much credit for it, he made a profound contribution to the formation of the Ukrainian state. He asserted Ukraine’s control over South-Eastern territories, and instituted a programme of Ukrainisation, which was crucial to the creation of the Ukrainian nation.
One snowy evening in December 2013, some twenty three years after Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union, a group of masked Ukrainian nationalists knocked a marble statue of Lenin at the Bessarabskaya Square in Kiev off from the pedestal. The perpetrators sang the Ukrainian anthem, said Russians ought to be knifed, and gave very lame historical accounts on camera. It was a group of fanatical lumpens, which have used the weakness of the state to topple an idol they came to despise. They reminded me of a Christian mob in Late Roman Empire doing away with a pagan shrine.
After the Maidan victory, the Ukrainian state found new strength and vigour in, what Pavlo Klimkin recently called, the “spirit of the struggle“, and began a state run campaign of “Cosmetic Decommunisation” and “derussification”. I propose to call this “spirit of the struggle” SUHS, short for: “Slava Ukrayini, Heroyim Slava!” -which was a greeting among the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, inspired by “Heil Hitler, Sieg Heil!”, and the slogan has now become the official greeting in the Ukrainian Army. SUHS is the new heroic idol that will replace the Bolshevik gods. And anything even closely approaching SUHS is absent in Russia.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not suggest Russia ought to adopt anything like SUHS, SUHS is a primitive and hateful ideology, a symptom of Ukraine’s social and cultural decay. SUHS has brought war into Ukraine. However, those who wish to decommunise Russia need to develop an ideology that will replace the Communist pantheon of heroes. It would need to be something a person with a two digit IQ will understand, very much like SUHS in this respect. And this is made harder by the fact that the only heroic event modern Russia commemorates is the Victory in Second World War, called “Great Patriotic War” in Russia. It is telling that the anti-Maidan forces in Ukraine have adopted the “George’s Ribbon”, a symbol of the “Great Victory” holiday. The victory is inseparable from Communism and Stalin.