Letters to a colleague: 3) Weimar Russia

Your detailed message reminded me once again of striking similarities between contemporary Russia and Weimar Germany (or perhaps post-Weimar) and the corresponding dangers. The challenge before the West apparently is not to offend Russia into sliding into some kind of fascist rule and at the same time not to try to appease the aggressive aspirations of Russia. I fear, though that in Russia we already have a post-Weimar situation. There is certainly room for deterioration in the situation (so things could be worse), but the regime already is in the stage, when it cannot be changed in a democratic way and relying on internal resources only.

The notion of Russia showing up fascist country’s features was first mentioned to me by a prominent Dagestani academic living in Moscow. Nowadays comparing Germany of the time and contemporary Russia is almost common. I went to a presentation held at Wilson center on this topic, not saying about other works. Of course, Russia is not the same as Germany was, not only the countries but also the historical contexts are very different. In modern Russia there is no need to exterminate people en masse, all the dirty job was done by Stalin, now Putin can make do without mass terror, targeting only specific groups that are most outstanding. Eg. what he does in the Caucasus is precisely the continuous attempts to use extralegal killings in order to influence behavior of people, which is state terror in other words.

I’m also skeptical about changing big countries like Russia from outside, but this does not mean that nothing can be done at all in order to influence their policies. 

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