Monday, January 17, 2011

RT: Another Gulag Story

It's funny that after my previous post, critical of Russia Today TV, I am now writing this one. But I think I would not be honest, if I said I didn't like this short documentary they aired a couple of days ago for the first time. Certainly recommend taking a look.

"Gone to Gulag: Diary of a Soviet Schoolgirl" is a revealing story - even if condensed and perhaps oversimplified - of a 17-year-old, sentenced to five years of hard labor in Kalyma, in the far north-east of Russia. The film also attempts to provide some context and draw parallels to similar stories of other individuals, combining it all with intermittent segments of archival footage. Interesting and looks (at least) genuine.

This is another case of Russian public diplomacy through history "education". To the Western audience, it might look like another episode from the Doctor Zhivago and Ivan Denisovich series... and perhaps, rightly so. After all, this will help foreigners understand Russia and her people better (reminder: everything is relative!).

One thing that really stood out to me, however, was the "passing" mention of a passage from Nina Lugovskaya's (I'm sure of no relation to Andrey Lugovoy, the ex-KGB bodyguard wanted in the UK for Litvinenko's poisoning) diary, regarding Stalin and his identity:

"I spent several days in bed, painting a picture in my mind's eye of how I'd kill him, that dictator, villain, and swine. That foul Georgian who's crippled Russia. But how do I do it? I want to kill him at the earliest opportunity. I will take revenge for myself and my father."

How convenient! Just another reminder for the Western audiences that Joseph Vissarinovich Djugashvili, a.k.a. Comrade Stalin, was not even Russian and had "hijacked the country against its will". Indeed, just a passing remark; and yet, it is such inconspicuous references and associations that stick in people's minds over time: a drop in the ocean of the persisting propaganda war.

I just don't see how RT would explain - after such attempted breaks by Russia from its dark past - what seems to be a revival of the "Stalin pride" in the country over the recent years...


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