Staunton, April 8 – Aleksandr Pyzhikov, a historian at the Presidential Academy of Economics and State Service and someone who has worked closely with the Moscow elite for 20 years, has published what US-based Russian historian Irina Pavlova calls “an ideological justification for a new great terror.”
Pyzhikov’s article entitled “A Change of Elites is Inevitable” appeared in Moskovsky komsomolets on Thursday (mk.ru/politics/2017/04/06/smena-elit-v-rossii-neizbezhna.html). Pavlova’s analysis of it appears today on her blog at ivpavlova.blogspot.com/2017/04/blog-post_8.html#more).
Pavlova argues that Pyzhikov’s article reflects the hysterical tide of anti-Americanism in Moscow and the notion among many in the Kremlin that the Russian leadership must adopt “a program of modernization which in contemporary Russian conditions can be a modernization only of a Stalinist type” and involve massive changes in cadres.
The Moscow historian, she continues, seeks to put “in ideological form the attitudes of that part of the Moscow elite which does not simply support the Kremlin’s current course but seeks its logical conclusion” by the carrying out “not only of socio-economic but in the first instance cadres changes.”
In his article, Pyzhikov shows himself to be a support of Stalin who he suggests “conducted ‘a patriotic policy’ and asserted ‘national ideological principles’ in opposition to the international policy of the old Leninist guard and who in order to strengthen this course came to recognize the need for removing the former elite.”
Pyzhikov “does not simply offer analogies between ‘the old Leninist guard’ and the elite of the 1990s and between today’s ‘patriotic policy’ of President Putin and Stalin’s policy of the middle of the 1930s.” He directly asserts that patriotism must be “the central element of renewal” now just as it was 80 years ago.
This renewal, he continues, “must occur in “all spheres: domestic politics and as its extension foreign. A principled position in the international arena, an open break with the liberal tradition, and a reduction of corruption.” It isn’t clear from Pyzhikov’s article, Pavlova says, whether he sees Putin or someone else as the leader to carry all this through.
But what is clear, Pavlova says, is that the Moscow historian believes in what he calls “a genuine gospel of change” that involves the idea that “it is shameful to be rich when millions alongside are living in poverty” and that around a leader who will promote that idea “a new elite must be formed.”
“Dreaming about a new Great Terror,” Pavlova argues, “Pyzhikov doesn’t note that it is already going on in the form of het arrests of governors and unsuitable siloviki. The cause of his nearsightedness is that he is focused on another stratum of Russian society. In his presentation, ‘the old Leninist guard of today’ is the elite of the 1990s: the systemic liberals.”
If I were one of those people who now are in power or near it, the US-based historian says, I would be worried about my future.