Russia is repeating old mistakes

Ivan Sukhov writes: Every evening, Russians watch their television weather forecaster report the temperature in the Crimean cities of Simferopol and Yalta. Those words come like a healing balm to the souls of people who experienced the collapse of the Soviet Union as a personal tragedy and who take heart in seeing the old empire collecting the territory that rightfully belongs to it.

Crimea symbolizes revenge — in the Soviet, political and negative sense of the word. A more accurate word is “restoration” — a restoration of the state and its rights that were allegedly violated.

The word “restoration” has remained a staple of the Russian political thesaurus since the early 1990s and the collapse of the Soviet Union. By restoring the Kremlin staterooms, restoring the coat of arms and flag, and canceling the Soviet anthem, Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, symbolically restored the Russian Empire.

And by reinstating the Soviet anthem, imposing a power vertical, giving greater social and political importance to siloviki structures — particularly the secret police — and reintroducing Crimea into the country’s daily weather forecasts, Yeltsin’s successor, Vladimir Putin, has symbolically restored the Soviet Union. [Continue reading…]

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