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Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Sunday Photos: Russia's Eternal Shame

"One of the largest state-sponsored monuments to the Gulag, this monument sits atop a hill in Astana, the capital of independent Kazakhstan. It incorporates the names of all the major Gulag camps in Kazakhstan, images of barbed wire and the black raven (symbolic of the prisoner truck bearing its name). Many of the non-Russian republics of the former Soviet Union have more readily dealt with the legacy of the Gulag, as they have built it into a narrative of what they (the Russians) did to us (the non-Russian peoples of whatever state). Of course, this simplifies a very complex history in many cases, but at least allows for the beginning of a conversation."
Where is the Russian Astana?

Russia can never escape the eternal shame it has brought upon itself for attempting to sweep the horror of the gulag under the national carpet. And the new online exhibition "Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives" from which the above photo was taken only serves to memorialize this point. A project not of the Russian government but of the American George Mason University and the Center for History and New Media, it documents the horror of worshiping Stalin, eerily similar to what is now happening with Vladimir Putin. A live exhibit will open in Washington DC later this summer.

And it underscores the single most important fact about Russian history: By far the worst murderer of Russians is other Russians. Russian xenophobia is, quite simply, utterly insane.

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