Channeling Stalin: Unscrambling Russian Propaganda in Ukraine


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This lecture is part of the 12th Annual Kościuszko Chair Spring Symposium in honor of Lady Blanka Rosenstiel sponsored by the Kościuszko Chair in Polish Studies and the Center for Intermarium studies. About the lecture: In Ukraine, Russia has presently redeployed a trusty Soviet propaganda trope: “liberation from Nazism.” This narrative is, of course, mendacious. Yet, every lie contains a kernel of truth. Our objective here is to extract it and put it in its proper context. We shall consider “liberation” and “Nazism” separately. “Liberation from Nazism” is standard Soviet cliche originating in the Second World War. However, Moscow also lustily employed it during the crushing of the Polish Poznan uprising in June 1956, the Hungarian insurrection in November 1956, and the Czechoslovak upheaval in August 1968. In fact, throughout its history, the USSR justified its imperialist aggression invariably in terms of bringing “liberty” and annihilating evil. Usually, the target was “fascism/Nazism/Hitlerism” but there were derivatives such as “imperialism,” “oppression,” and so forth. Often the Soviets would refer to their actions as “rendering fraternal assistance.” All those propaganda threads are present today in the war in Ukraine. A more sophisticated iteration of “liberation from Nazism” focuses on the Western public, while its cruder form targets domestic, Russian audiences. About the speaker: Dr. Chodakiewicz holds the Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies at The Institute of World Politics and leads IWP’s Center for Intermarium Studies. At IWP, he also serves as a Professor of History and teaches courses on Contemporary Politics and Diplomacy, Geography and Strategy, Mass Murder Prevention in Failed and Failing States, and Russian Politics and Foreign Policy. He is the author of Intermarium: The Land Between the Black and Baltic Seas and numerous other books and articles. He holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and has previously taught at the University of Virginia and Loyola Marymount University.

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