Annals of Russia's Neo-Soviet Hypocrisy
"What galls is how together with America we defeated Hitler, and how we sympathized when Bin Laden hit them. But they go ahead and scare kids with Communists. These people have no shame."
Those are the words of Russian Communist Party member Victor Petrov, quoted in a story we reported last week about the Russian reaction to the new Indiana Jones movie. It seems Mr. Petrov is miffed because the movie depicts Russians as being the evil enemies of freedom and democracy during the Cold War. Apparently, he thinks we should just forget about all that now, notwithstanding the fact that Russia is ruled by a proud KGB spy.
Interesting, isn't it? Suddenly now, when Russia wants to attack Indy, we've become the country who "together" with Russia "defeated Hitler." One would like to ask Mr. Petrov where he got that information, because it certainly wasn't from a Russian history book. Try as you may, you will not find one that gives us any credit at all for defeating Hitler, which according to such texts was 100% the work of valiant Russians. America and the West just came along for the ride.
This is neo-Soviet hypocrisy displayed at its most stomach-wrenching. We're Russia's ally when it's convenient, and its mortal enemy the rest of the time. Who do these Russians think they are fooling, anyway?
An encyclopedia-length treatise would be necessary to chronicle the subject of Russian hypocrisy.
Take foreign policy. How is it possible for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to visit France and declare that America is a "frightening monster" and lecture the French president about his own people, saying "this is in the nature of French people, they don't want their country tied down, and any French leader will have to respect that." What would Putin say if George Bush went to Warsaw and called Russia a "frightening monster"? What would he say if Bush gave a lecture to Dimitry Medvedev in St. Petersburg about what the people of Russia really want from their leaders? How dare Putin demand that the U.S. stay out of Russian affairs and stop leading NATO expansion even as he provokes the U.S. at every conceivable opportunity in the most incendiary and unstatesmanlike manner he can think of?
Do you dare to imagine, dear reader -- do you dare -- how Vladimir Putin would have reacted in 2001 if, during the height of the second Chechnya war, NATO had announced it would send European troops into Chechnya to repair a railroad connection? Can you imagine how Putin would have shrieked and screamed about the violation of Russian sovereignty? Given that, how does Putin justify giving exactly such an order in regard to Georgia? Simply put, he can't: but that doesn't stop him from doing it anyway, just as his Soviet ancestors did.
Or take the issue of Russian "patriotism." If Russians love their country so much, why is it necessary to bribe Russian athletes to perform their best at the summer Olympics in Bejing? If Russians are full of desire to serve their nation, why is it necessary to bribe Russian parents to have babies? If Vladimir Putin is so popular and Russians so overflowing with affection and respect for their country and their countrymen, why can't Putin simply ask for these things to happen?
The reason, of course, is hypocrisy. Because there's no such thing in Russia as "patriotism" or selfless love of country these days. Instead, there's just virulent hatred of outsiders that some mistake for patriotism. There's no widespread support for Putin, just as there wasn't for communism, only jury-rigged elections and lies. When you're working in a factory for $1.86 an hour, a wage that isn't even being paid, forcing you on a hunger strike to collect it, and when (as we reported in an editorial earlier this week) you know that your young son will be involuntarily drafted into the army and subjected to brutal, barbaric hazing rituals that may well lead him to suicide, it's hard to love your country much.
And there's nothing wrong with that lack of patriotism, it's logical. What's not logical is to pretend otherwise, to act as if such love is present when it isn't, to live in a world of self-delusion and hypocrisy. That's the world of the USSR, the world that destroyed a superpower.
And Russians are doing it all over again. Guess they didn't get it wrong enough the first time to satisfy them.
Russians who truly love their country, like Oleg Kozlovsky and Yulia Latynina, are doing all they can to warn it away from the precipice towards which it is hurtling. They risk their lives (and, like Anna Politkovskaya, give their lives) for their cause. They do not utter empty rhetoric about patriotism, they let their actions speak for themselves. Meanwhile, cloaking themselves in rhetoric, Russia's true enemies toil away in the corridors of power, risking and suffering nothing, sleeping on golden beds. Russians claim to love their country, but they elevate their enemies from the KGB to positions of authority and respect and show nothing but contempt for their true heroes -- as they have always done, from the time of Pushkin through the time of Solzhenitsyn right up to the present day.
And meanwhile, Russians stand around looking at each other in confusing, wondering why the country keeps denigrating and dissolving before their eyes.
And so it goes with the tragedy that is Russia.