Skip links

How does an authoritarian regime celebrate a revolution?

All should be subsumed within an overarching narrative of Russian glory.

“And what, exactly, is there to be celebrating?” snapped Vladimir Putin’s press secretary on Oct. 25, a little more than a week before the 100th anniversary of what, in Soviet times, was lauded as the country’s greatest victory.

On Nov. 7, 1917, Vladimir Lenin seized power in St. Petersburg. Soviet authorities glorified that day as the dawn of the world’s first successful communist revolution – and the creation of the first country to promise racial, gender and even economic equality.

In 1967, to honor the Soviet Union’s first half-century, leaders staged countrywide displays of mass jubilation. They ordered sausages be made with the number “50,” in white fat, running through every slice.

But today, though Lenin still remains embalmed and on show in a giant mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow is strangely silent. Putin – whose grandfather cooked for Lenin – has simply called the event “ambiguous.”

Why this official disinterest, even as the centennial generates global headlines?

Perhaps because if you wish to project an image of a strong state and united people, then it’s awkward to toast the overturning of a seated government and beginning of civil war. All the more when Bolshevik actions in 1917 can be compared to those of Euromaidan protestors in 2014 Ukraine, who ousted a pro-Russian president in a move the Kremlin condemned as “an anti-constitutional takeover and armed seizure of power.”

While he’s capable of acknowledging the complexity of the Soviet origin story, Putin apparently sees no need to broadcast such confusion. Instead, he promotes an idea of “Russian greatness” in which history is used selectively, not to inform as much as to inspire. The Russian Revolution, however politically inconvenient, is no exception.

Read more at MercatorNet –

Share with Friends: