This is a blog for use in both of my HIS 241 and HIS 242 Russian history survey courses at Northern Virginia Community College.

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30 September 2015

Does Putin Have a Philosopher, or Does He Really Need One?

Anton Barbashin and Hannah Thoburn, Putin's Philosopher: Ivan Ilyin and the Ideology of Moscow's Rule (Foreign Affairs, 20 September 2015)

The mysterious name of the semi-literate, semi-rational, semi-intellectual, mysterious, Russia emigre, Ivan Ilyin (1883-1954)keeps circulating these days in connection with Putin's ideas and behaviors, and scholars are looking for the direct, ideological connections between the two with the hope that perhaps Ilyin's writings provide a rational explanation for Putin's ideas.

Reminds me a lot of the effort to figure out a rational definition of fascism from the readings of so-called fascist thinkers, but it's an effort in futility.

23 September 2015

Remembering the Stalinist Terror

Russian Project Honors Stalin’s Victims and Stirs Talk on Brutal Past (New York Times, 20 September 2015).  Some Russians are endeavoring to remember those who perished in the Great Terror by placing small plagues on the last know residences of those who disappeared.  It's a very small act, but some feel that something is needed instead of sweeping the past under the carpet.

09 September 2015

Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

Masha Gessen, The Dearly Departed Return to Russia, 21 August 2015

For some unknown reason, the Putin administration is working to dig up famous Russians buried abroad so that they can be "repatriated" back to Russia.  It is especially hard to believe that Anton Denikin, a fierce opponent of the Bolshevik regime during the Russian civil war, has now been reburied in Russia. The Kremlin has also been launching a public relations campaign that Sergei Rachmaninov should be returned to Moscow, claiming that his remains are not being properly taken care of in the United States.