Putin speaks, Propaganda Draws On Soviet Era, Nazi Germany: Historian

  • Stephen Norris is a professor in Russian history at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.
  • Norris studies Russian history and nationalism, media, propaganda, and other topics.
  • Insider Putin’s speeches seem more existential, according to Norris.

The following is a Q&A with Stephen Norris, a professor of Russian history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. It has been lightly edited to improve clarity and length.

What is your perception of Putin’s speeches over time? And what is most concerning about them?

This evolution is most evident in the past year. The Victory Day speech, which is delivered every May 9, is the most important Putin state speech. These speeches are quite repetitive. He repeats the same story every year about the sacrifices made by the Soviet Union, but he also transitions it into saying, “We have inherit that sacrifice.” It’s a holy victory where Russia/the Soviet Union has saved the world and liberated Europe from the brown plague fascism. He then usually mentions, especially in the last 10 years or so, how “We have inherited the willingness to defend our motherland.”

He combined these ideas in his Victory Day speech this year. Now it’s, “We have done that, but we are also actively doing it again.” This is why Victory Day’s speech this year was so scary.

It’s almost that this DNA of patriotism has kind of seeded the groundwork for his speeches over these last 12 months, especially since the invasion in Ukraine. He outlined the culture of patriotism and the historic mission Russia has inherited from victory against Nazi Germany. Now he is activated by the necessity of fighting Ukraine. But he insists that “We are not actually fighting an offensive war.” We are fighting a defensive battle where we must once again liberate Europe of the brown plague fascism.

What are the similarities between the messages Putin and Russia today and Soviet Union propaganda?

The messaging about Victory Day and it’s significance is largely a Putin-era phenomenon — laying claim to this victory over Nazi Germany is the one achievement from the 20th century that the Putin state has really latched onto, and then used to kind of construct this larger patriotic culture around the willingness of Russians across centuries to sacrifice themselves for the motherland.

Simple, repetitive messages are key to any propaganda. They must also contain truth. It is true that the Soviet Union won WWII. However, it is also true that the sacrifices made in World War II by the Soviet Union are not easily understood by Americans. Putin is also adept at ignoring all the inconvenient facts. In this sense, Victory Day propaganda is a Soviet-era creation that Putin has revived.

In the 19th century and even in the 20th century, in the imperial propaganda and then Soviet propaganda, Russia “never attacked” anyone, or the Soviet Union never attacked anyone — it was always defense. Even though it didn’t. Russia clearly attacked Ukraine. But Putin is pitching it for the defense of our civilization as well as the Russians living in our borders. It was more about the need to protect socialist governments from the evils that the West in the 20th Century.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the Victory Day military parade at Red Square on May 9, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the Victory Day Military Parade at Red Square on May 9, 2018, Moscow, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Did Putin use the Victory Day speeches as a way to repeat the message to the Russian people in order to convince them to accept his narrative about the invasion of Ukraine?

I doubt that Putin knew 10 years ago that he would invade Ukraine. These were the events that took place after Putin returned to the presidency. massive protests that broke out in 2011 and 2012 across RussiaFrom Putin’s perspective, fear of a revolution, or any kind of popular revolt that would topple his system, was a concern, especially in Moscow. And so what the Putin system did, especially through the Ministry of Culture, was to particularly stress patriotic narratives — in schooling, movies, television shows, news programs, and things like that.

You can compare the speech Putin gave to announce the election. annexation of four Ukrainian territoriesThe Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Could you please elaborate?

One of the most troubling trends in Putin speeches, particularly in the last six to seven month, has been their amorphism and almost existential nature. The Ukrainian war has been framed in existential terms — it’s a war to save Russian civilization. He said that Western culture is nothing but satanism in the speech he gave to sign the treaties annexed the four territories. This is the new threat to Russia. It was frightening and quite apocalyptic. Putin actually made reference to Goebbels during that speech. Putin said that the West has created a culture of lies about Russia that is reminiscent of Goebbels.

Goebbels spoke strangely similar words in May 1943. This was after Nazi Germany had lost in Stalingrad to the Soviet Union, which was turning the tides of war. Goebbels spoke in a speech that made the defeat seem like victory and turned it into a more existential issue, stating that the allies want to destroy German culture, German history and the German people.

As a historian, I am not going to make too many comparisons. Goebbels speech was full of information about who was supporting the West, and the need for answers to “the Jewish question.” While this isn’t a major part of Putin’s speeches I believe the analogy here is about what an authoritarian or authoritarian regime or dictatorship does when things aren’t going according to plan during a war. And how did they frame the meanings of the war at that time? Goebbels was able to bring these existential and apocalyptic questions to the forefront in 1943. This is in a way what Putin is saying.

This is why it’s so alarming. Is there an out when you consider your very existence at stake?

Surrounded by WWII veterans Russian President Vladimir Putin watches the military parade marking 74 years since the victory in WWII in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, May 9, 2019.

Vladimir Putin, surrounded by WWII veterans, watches the military parade to mark 74 years since victory in WWII at Red Square in Moscow, Russia on Thursday, May 9, 2019.

Alexei Druzhinin. Sputnik. Kremlin Pool Photo/Associated Press

How much is film and television in Russia part state propaganda?

Russia, like most European countries has a Ministry of Culture which oversees film production. Putin appointed Vladimir Medinsky to be the new cultural minister following the 2011 and 2012 protests. He published each year a list listing the 10 things that the state wanted in films, including patriotic stories and achievements in Soviet or Russian science. This meant that you could only get monies if you met one or more of these criteria.

Which meant that popular films, which are very slick, well-produced — they look like Hollywood films — increasingly took on patriotic messages that dovetail with the state’s ideals. Tons of war movies have been made about WWII. It is hard to quantify the number of war movies that Russia has produced in the past 10 years. On average, I think about one per month.

Some of them are really good, some are a little more nuanced, but you can imagine if this is your basic consumption, you are on some level always getting messages about the significance of WWII, the patriotism of our forefathers in it, that we saved the world from fascism — those are the messages that the war speeches have kind of hijacked.

There have been a few instances over the last ten years where Ukrainians are seen in films. They usually take one of two identities. A Ukrainian soldier in the Red Army with his fellow Soviet soldiers who speak Russian is always a good choice. However, if the Ukrainian speaks Ukrainian on a Russian film, almost invariably he is a Nazi collaborator.

Even though Russia’s media landscape is still dominated by the state, it is more diverse than in other countries. It’s not like the Soviet period, when there were only two channels and two radio stations and a handful of newspapers all controlled solely by the state. It’s more diverse than ever, so it doesn’t seem centralized or condensed to the public. Because of this, it is in some ways more sophisticated than Soviet propaganda.

Many American movies depict Russian characters as evil. What role does this play in Russia’s narratives of the West?

This is a common point in Russia. Russians are often seen as the villains. Russians find this offensive, and understandably so. American movies are very popular in Russia. They are also the most popular in Russia. The Russian press would publish a lot of articles every time an American movie featured a Russian villain, even though new American movies were still being made up to February 2012.

Putin speaks of Russophobia being a form racialism. Then, someone can say, “Well, all these Hollywood films do have all these terrible Russians, therefore, they really don’t like us.” Maybe the West wants us all to die and cease to exist as nations, which is what the president claims. Maybe not. I don’t know. That’s the point.

Source link

[Denial of responsibility! newsanyway.com is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – at newsanyway.com The content will be deleted within 24 hours.]