Concluding remarks on the Valdai history of Ukraine

6

November 17, 2014 by AK

A final write-up on Putin’s Valdai hisitoricizing, following parts 1, 2, 3. The “lands wrongly handed over to Ukraine” meme seems to go back to the short-lived Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic, the DKR. The majority view is the DKR was a temporary Bolshevik quasi-state that was supposed to merge into a united Soviet Ukraine once Communist domination over the whole of the country was established. Some claim the DKR had grassroot support and its existence reflected the fact than the Ukraine of Sloboda and Novorossia was different, economically and culturally, from the Ukraine of the former Hetmanate, to say nothing of Galicia. The DKR’s incorporation into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1920 was a tragic error according to that view.

As for Putin’s “proletariat” remark, it appears to be based on a 1920s article by Mykola Skrypnik, an influential Ukrainian Bolshevik leader and proponent of Ukrainization of cities, who committed suicide in 1933.

This said, the DKR was still a Ukrainian republic, not a Russian province. And a Russian president pontificating on Ukrainian history is not a credible source for the time being.


6 comments »

  1. JCass says:

    Nice work.

    The best that can be said about Putin’s “historical analysis” is that he’s put in slightly more effort than his would-be disciple Erdogan with his half-baked remarks about Muslims discovering America in 1178.

    • AK says:

      Thanks – I see that I missed Erdogan’s latest outpouring of wisdom. Like Putin, he is quoting some controversial but “patriotic” local historian. However Putin’s focus is mostly recent history – he has only commented on medieval matters once AFAIK.

      Why would two presidents, similar as they seem at times but coming from different backgrounds, make forays into pop history at the same time?

  2. JCass says:

    As far as I can see, Putin’s history lessons rarely go further back than Catherine the Great. Mentioning medieval times is tricky as people might remember that the capital of Rus’ was Kyiv not Moscow.

    Erdogan’s Neo-Ottoman Empire is struggling to get off the ground, maybe because it has to compete with the caliphate nostalgia of Islamic State. The Arabs don’t really have fond memories of Ottoman rule anyway.

    The other would-be Putin in Hungary has also come unstuck and has been facing mass protests in recent weeks. No carve-up of the Carpathians any time soon.

    The really big global danger of a nation going down the Putin route would be China, of course. Fortunately, Chinese nationalists currently despise the Qing dynasty, when China was at its territorial maximum. If that were ever to change, the irony is that Russia would need to worry.

    • AK says:

      “Mentioning medieval times is tricky as people might remember that the capital of Rus’ was Kyiv not Moscow.” That shouldn’t be a problem since Russian schoolchildren are taught, like Soviet and pre-Soviet kids before them, that Kievan Rus’ was the birthplace of Eastern Orthodox civilization. It’s merely an argument over inheritance, over which scion has the better claim to the ancestral manor, Moscow or Kyiv, and both are suspect: Moscow because of its association with the Horde and Kyiv because of the discontinuity caused by its destruction by the Mongols and virtual non-existence for a century. But I don’t think that deserves to be taken seriously these days. I think politicized history is only stoking old resentments and it would be better if Russians, Ukrainians and Poles suspended their knowledge of history at the negotiating table.

      • JCass says:

        But I don’t think that deserves to be taken seriously these days. I think politicized history is only stoking old resentments and it would be better if Russians, Ukrainians and Poles suspended their knowledge of history at the negotiating table.

        That’s certainly true, but unlikely while Russia is still a threat to those peoples. After all, the Poles don’t hold grudges against the Swedes for the “Poptop” of the 17th century and the Ukrainians seem to get on fine with the Tatars nowadays.

        I think it was Francois Furet who said it’s hard to see history objectively when it’s been politicised by current affairs. He took the example of 19th-century France, when Dark Age relations between Gauls (symbolising the French and/or the lower classes) and Franks (symbolising the Germans and/or the aristocracy) was a burning issue. Now, nobody cares that much and Charlemagne is a symbol of Franco-German reconciliation. One day this could happen with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus etc. in relation to Rus’, but unfortunately there will be a lot of bloodshed before we get there.

  3. Nohorita says:

    Clan of KGB spies? Perhaps you should cite your soecurs, before writing such libel. I am sure that Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev and most of the Russian Duma would be surprised to learn that they are KGB spies Sorry to see that turd known as La Russophobe has landed here Tim. Good luck putting up with that Of course she put too much blame directly on Putin as well as inserted herself into the story far too much. One of the first rules of journalism is to take yourself out of the news story, a rule she seldom followed. She was not a saint, but she was an excellent writer in my opinion. The issue of her virtue or skill or accumen isn’t really important in any case the issue is one of crime that has no fear of reprisal within Russia. Much of Russia’s problems are societal and not the result of some vast conspiracy. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, the fact that she was murdered on Putin’s birthday is telling and troubling as to the assassin’s intentions and message.

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