Russia kicked out of G8, Putin rehabilitates Stalin

In today’s “they’re back” news, Russia was kicked out of the G8 today, while Russian President Vladimir Putin has been trying to rehabilitate the image of former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Stalin killed, by conservative estimates, four to ten million Russians during his tenure (some estimates go as high as 60 million killed).

First the G8, I mean G7

The G7 is an organization representing the world’s most industrialized nations.  It includes the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and Italy – and added Russia in 1998, to become the G8.

Today that changed, and they’re back to the G7, with Russia kicked out for its invasion and annexation of Ukrainian Crimea.

Per a larger declaration from a meeting of those leaders today in the Hague:

This Group came together because of shared beliefs and shared responsibilities.  Russia’s actions in recent weeks are not consistent with them.  Under these circumstances, we will not participate in the planned Sochi Summit.  We will suspend our participation in the G-8 until Russia changes course and the environment comes back to where the G-8 is able to have a meaningful discussion and will meet again in G-7 format at the same time as planned, in June 2014, in Brussels, to discuss the broad agenda we have together.  We have also advised our Foreign Ministers not to attend the April meeting in Moscow.  In addition, we have decided that G-7 Energy Ministers will meet to discuss ways to strengthen our collective energy security.

While it may be only symbolic, it is at least strongly symbolic. Russia had been wanting for a while to be accepted into the big-boys’ club of world leaders, including membership in the G8.  So while his expulsion from the group won’t get Putin out of Crimea, it does exact a real cost on Russia’s overall aspirations to be viewed as a world power, rather than a sclerotic pariah.

Julia Ioffe at the New Republic has an interesting take on this, and what’s going on with Russia overall of late:

And there’s the rub: For the entirety of his 14-year reign, Vladimir Putin has wanted to have it both ways. To be part of the West, but not of the West. To sit at the big boys’ table and be considered a big boy player himself, but to be able, at any point, to opt out of their ultimately foreign rules. To claim cultural, historical, economic, and geopolitical kinship with the West while simultaneously claiming utter non-Western uniqueness.

Speaking of sclerotic pariahs… Stalin, huh?

Stalin, really?

Reuters reports that Putin has intentionally manipulated Stalin’s image to support his larger goal of centralizing power in Russia under his tutelage.  While Putin’s cronies admit that Stalin did a few bad things – like the mass murder of millions – he also had his admirable traits.

Stalin (credit: US Signal Corps, Library of Congress)

Stalin (credit: US Signal Corps, Library of Congress)

But Lev Gudkov, director of independent Levada Center polling group, said the biggest shift occurred after Putin came to power in 2000 and “launched a comprehensive program to ideologically reeducate society”.

“Putin’s spin doctors did not deny that Stalin’s regime had conducted mass arrests and executions but tried to minimize these events … while emphasizing as far as possible the merits of Stalin as a military commander and statesman who had modernized the country and turned it into one of the world’s two superpowers,” Gudkov wrote.

Could be worse. Could be Hitler. Oh, right…

Then again, why should anyone be surprised that Russian leaders are now embracing one of history’s greatest mass-murderers?

Russia lost between 18 and 24 million people to the Nazis during World War II.  But that hasn’t stopped President Putin from letting neo-Nazi gangs organize nationwide for going on two years now.

Ukrainian TV star kidnapped and tortured by Russian neo-Nazi gangs. The video of his abduction was then published on Putin-ally-controlled VK.com.

Ukrainian TV star kidnapped and tortured by Russian neo-Nazi gangs. The video of his abduction was then published on Puti- ally-controlled VK.com.

Since the Nazis gangs are kidnappings gays, Jews and blacks, the Russian authorities aren’t terrible concerned about them — since the Kremlin doesn’t particularly like those groups either.  So Putin lets the neo-Nazis continue their abductions, unfettered, while Russian social media networks controlled by Putin’s cronies let the neo-Nazis use their sites to organize their crimes against gays, Jews and blacks, among other undesirable minorities.

The network in question, VKontakte (aka VK.com) — controlled by Putin ally, and richest man in Russia, Alisher Usmanov — let’s neo-Nazis use its service to organize kidnappings.  VK is an affiliate of Russian cell carrier MegaFon and Internet company Mail.ru — all of which are controlled by Usmanov.

The state and city of New York hold investments in MegaFon, and have to date refused requests to divest from the Putin-allied hate site affiliates.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Michael

    What is it with right-wingers and denying atrocities? In any country it’s always the same. Japanese rightists say their aggression in Asia had admirable goals, Australian rightists deny the Stolen Generations and Turkish rightists deny the Armenian Genocide. And now, of course, the Russians.

  • 4th Turning

    This has a familiar ring to it…

    Tatar historian Alan Fisher has said that between 1917 and 1933, 150,000 Tatars—about 50% of the population at the time—either were killed or forced out of Crimea.

    Then in 1944, Stalin accused the entire population of Crimean Tatars of collaborating with the Nazis and deported them to Siberia en masse. Piled body to body in cattle cars–“crematoria on wheels,” half of the Tatar population died on the way. The Tatar population of Crimea fell to zero, all Tatar mosques were destroyed, and Stalin achieved his goal of expanding the Russian population further south.

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116814/crimean-tatars-primer-why-population-opposes-putin

  • 4th Turning

    John, can you find anything linking putin’s sudden adventureism to an desperate(?) need to divert
    public/world attention away from the looming sochi corruption scandal?

    To refresh…

    “Beyond the walls is an official guesthouse, built by the state-owned Gazprom oil giant, which locals say is really the dacha of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the former head of Gazprom. Documents uncovered by Russian bloggers show the land is owned by a private foundation known as Dar, which is controlled by a law-school classmate and former business partner of Mr. Medvedev

    [Under an agreement signed in 2010 by Dmitri A. Medvedev, then Russia’s president and now the prime minister, the Russians lowered the price of gas (for Ukraine) in exchange for an extension of the base’s lease, effective for at least 25 years.
    On Thursday, Mr. Medvedev said the discount was no longer warranted] NY Times 3/23/14

    Opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who compiled an online record of the alleged corruption that he says contributed to the runaway cost of the Sochi Games, says a road connecting the “science centre” to Sochi was built at a cost of $64.2-million, with the contract awarded to a local deputy who is a member of Mr. Putin’s United Russia party.” (science centre-euphemism for putin estate)

  • Stephen Westervelt

    when your wife is a Harvard educated lawyer, you tend to listen to her as well… Both the president and the FLOTUS are Harvard law grads.

  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    What’s next? Mussolini’s attempt to bring back the grandeur of former times, like the Romans into Putin’s attempt to bring back Peter the Great or Catherine the Great?

  • mirror

    When you bandy about terms like Nazi and Neo Nazi, and suggest that the only reason a citizen of Ukraine, whether Russian speaking or Ukrainian speaking or other, would wish to resist the increased influence of a Russian oligarchy run by a dictator in all but name, that the only reason they would resist this is because they are neo-Nazi nationalist anti-semites or are being manipulated by western money, then you completely ignore the massive crimes of oppression, murder, population transport, and ethnic cleansing carried out by a Russian dictator in the living memory of people who live there. When you ignore this huge motivator to resist being subsumed under a new Russian hegemony overseen by a single megalomaniac, then you are not only downplaying Stalin’s crimes – you are ignoring Stalin’s crimes, as if they never happened. Living memory and history direct from the mouths of those who lived it. This is a lot more complex, layered, and nuanced than “Hillary Clinton gave a billion dollars to some neo-nazis and right-wing oligarchs.”

  • goulo

    FWIW I’ve seen a fair number of anti-gay Putin supporters (and supporters of the neo-Nazi thugs and the anti-“gay propaganda” law in Russia) in some of those posts about gay rights in Russia.

    But I don’t recall seeing comments defending or downplaying Stalin specifically. (But then some of those Russia posts got huge numbers of comments and I certainly didn’t read them all…)

  • dula

    It’s probably a good thing that Russia is out of the G8. The fewer corporations conspiring together the better. US Big Ag already has their teeth in Ukraine and the US must protect their investments from Russian influence:

    “Despite the turmoil within Ukrainian politics after Yanukovych rejected a major trade deal with the European Union just seven weeks earlier, Cargill was confident enough about the future to fork over $200 million to buy a stake in Ukraine’s UkrLandFarming. According to Financial Times, UkrLandFarming is the world’s eighth-largest land cultivator and second biggest egg producer. And those aren’t the only eggs in Cargill’s increasingly-ample basket.
    On Dec. 13, Cargill announced the purchase of a stake in a Black Sea port. Cargill’s port at Novorossiysk — to the east of Russia’s strategically significant and historically important Crimean naval base — gives them a major entry-point to Russian markets and adds them to the list of Big Ag companies investing in ports around the Black Sea, both in Russia and Ukraine.”

    http://consortiumnews.com/2014/03/16/corporate-interests-behind-ukraine-putsch/

  • 2karmanot

    Short attention span?

  • 2karmanot

    “Putin’s supporters on this site have been busy downplaying Stalin’s massive crimes against humanity s well.” What? Who? I’ve not read any Putin or Stalin supporters here. WTF?

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Right. I hadn’t even really thought of that. It’s as if you lived through Hitler, and now he’s back knocking on your door again (and never really left).

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Götterdämmerung (uncountable)
    (Germanic mythology) The myth of the destruction of the gods in a final battle with the forces of evil; the apocalypse.
    Any cataclysmic downfall or momentous, apocalyptic event, especially of a regime or an institution.  [quotations ▼]

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Yes, I didn’t even get into the Ukraianian famine as, apparently, that’s controversial, in terms of whether to fully blame Stalin or not. But that’s why some of the estimates of the numbers of deaths go much higher.

  • emjayay

    For us simple minded folk, gross simplifications are often helpful. The Lakoff style division of people into authoritarians and flexible liberal types (whatever he called them) works for me. Putin is an authoritarian. Stalin and Hitler were authoritarians. It doesn’t matter if Hitler happened to invade Russia and end up killing millions. Nazis and neo-Nazis are still on Putin’s side and useful besides. Of course Uncle Joe is being rehabilitated and of course he would have teamed up with Hitler if that had worked out. And a lot of Russians, basically peasants from the Middle Ages, really like the authoritarian thing.
    Obama, besides being half black, is not an authoritarian. You can be successfully in charge of something and not be. It doesn’t mean not being decisive, just being more collaborative and consensus oriented and all that sort of thing. That is another thing the right wingers, authoritarians all, have against Obama. He probably doesn’t properly beat his kids or anything, and his wife by all appearances is an equal in their relationship and not properly subservient.

  • emjayay

    Good point. Bet they double the price.

  • FLL

    Stalin’s actions resulted in the extermination, by deliberately imposed famine, of 4 million Ukrainians (by cautious estimates). Someone will no doubt say that specific paper documentation that proves Stalin’s intention to perpetrate mass murder is still missing. I’ll tell you one thing that’s not missing. During 1932-1933, because many Ukrainians were able to escape to the Republic of Georgia, the Soviet government disseminated orders to the local population in Georgia not to offer food or shelter to Ukrainians in need of food and shelter. Those government orders are very well documented, and they prove intent on the part of Stalin’s government. Stalin and his government wanted Ukrainian people dead.

  • Monophylos Fortikos

    I’m curious. Why did you post the same bad pun twice in fifteen minutes? Wasn’t once enough?

  • mirror

    You could see this Stalin rehab coming. Not a surprise to me, and Putin’s supporters on this site have been busy downplaying Stalin’s massive crimes against humanity s well. It is impossible to understand the views of Russia’s neighboring states without an honest appreciation of the vast number of deaths caused knowingly and intentionally by Stalin’s policies.

    What a freaking mess. Fucking oligarchs playing Gotterdamerung with climate and energy policy. It’s all a game to them, wanting to live in heroic times – like Stalin! And I include western oligarchs like the Koch brothers. Completely insane. I really despair. People like this have no goal in life beyond a wish to accumulate and exercise power for its own sake. Catastrophes just add color and excitement to the game.

  • Badgerite

    One of the reasons that Russia was vulnerable to attack by Hitler was that Stalin spent so much time purging people, Russia was really unprepared for war. It has been speculated that that was one of the reasons for the Hitler-Stalin pact. To buy time so that the Russian military could rebuild. But Stalin’s daughter recalls an incident where Stalin looked wistful and said something like , “Just think what we could have accomplished together.” (referring to Hitler and himself, of course.)
    How do you rehabilitate that. He put his own in-laws in prison. Svetlana’s aunt went nuts after 8 years in solitary confinement.

  • Indigo

    Meanwhile, the US continues to depend on Russia Sovietica for launches to the International Space Station, thanks to Bush2’s inept policies and failure to replace the failing pick-up-truck shuttles before they wore out. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

  • dan

    Putin and the world OILigarchs, racing to kill renewable energy.

  • Dave of the Jungle

    This all is beginning to have that “Winds of War” feeling.

  • dan

    Putin and the OILigarchs, tag-teaming, worldwide. They’ll pretend to be at odds, but it’s a pro wrestling act, all the way.

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