19 May 2013

Putin's Patriotism: Duma May Make Criticism of WWII Illegal

The Russian State Duma has ordered an evaluation of a comment made by opposition politician Leonid Gozman in which he compared a Soviet intelligence agency to Adolf Hitler's SS on the grounds that the comment may hurt the image of Russia's military history. Gozman wrote an op-ed on the Echo Moskvy website last week in which he criticized a TV show about a Soviet security agency that worked during World War II called Death to Spies, or SMERSH in its Russian abbreviation. The show portrayed the officers of the agency, which in Soviet times focused on counterintelligence, as heroes helping the coalition to win the war.


"I'm sure there were honest officers in SMERSH but they were unfortunate to work for an agency that was as criminal as the SS," he wrote. "The word SMERSH must fall into the same category as such words as the SS, NKVD and Gestapo, and cause horror and disgust, but not be a part of the headline for a patriotic movie." The Duma's sharp reaction to Gozman's words comes amid a drive by President Vladimir Putin to bolster patriotism among Russians, including through the glorification of Russian military exploits. Following Putin's lead, pro-Kremlin politicians have aggressively targeted critical views on certain aspects of Russia's past, and the government plans to create a single set of textbooks for Russian schoolchildren to present a "canonical" version of the country's history.

The Moscow Times