America has committed a lot of crimes. However, the United States for all of the lies that she has told, eventually admits to a lot of them. For examples, the massacre of the Indians/Native Americans is well-known, but she does not hide it. Instead, she discusses what happened openly, and says that it was bad. The same can be said about things such as the mass enslavement of West Africans, the eugenics experiments of the 19th century on European immigrants/poor blacks/poor Appalachian whites, and other incidents. This does not mean that it is good they happened, or that an admission makes up for a crime, but that it is a part of a social healing process.
Russia, as I have noted, is really good at bluffing, but awful at lying, and her insistence of covering up crimes and lying about them makes her look dishonest. Instead of being honest, even if it is only for selfish reasons, she tries to hide what happened and deny it.
One of the worst examples of this behavior is trying to hide the massacres of Stalin. As I have written about, Putin veritably worships (in the literal sense) Stalin and is modeling his “revivial” of Russia on Stalin and the USSR. However, Putin is also following the worst of Stalin in violently silencing his critics- I speak of healthy discourse here and not attempts to intentionally cause revolution -and trying to re-write Russian history when it is very difficult to do so.
Right now, Russia has been attempting to dispute with Finland to such a point that she is making overtures about potentially invading the northern European nation. However many claims Russia may have about Finland, the fact is that Russia gravely abused Finns and many Russians near Finland, including the carrying out of mass executions. According to a recent article in the New York Times, a Russian citizen was arrested and is being held on charges of pedophilia- something which he, his family, and friends viciously deny -because he found a mass grave from Stalin’s executions and the Russian government is trying to cover it up.
On that day more than 20 years ago, however, Mr. Dmitriev, an amateur but very determined historian, finally found the gruesome prize he had long been searching for — burial mounds containing the remains of political prisoners executed by Stalin’s secret police.
“Everything started here,” said Mr. Dmitriev’s 35-year-old daughter, Katerina Klodt, during a recent visit to the forest at Sandarmokh in Karelia, a peninsula in northern Russia. “My dad’s work has clearly made some people very uncomfortable.”
Mr. Dmitriev is now in jail, awaiting trial on what his family, friends and supporters dismiss as blatantly fabricated charges of pedophilia, an accusation that has frequently been used to discredit and silence voices the Russian authorities do not like.
An official in Karelia, Mr. Dmitriev’s home region next to Finland, complained last year that the jailed historian’s life work — the commemoration of Stalin’s victims at Sandarmokh forest — had created an “unfounded sense of guilt” and been used by “foreign powers for propaganda against Russia.”
In pursuit of a guilt-free version of Russia’s past, men in camouflage uniforms visited the same forest last summer to do their own digging, uncovering the remains of 16 corpses that they hope will prove that the killing at Sandarmokh was, at least in part, the work of foreigners, not just the Soviet secret police.
Ms. Klodt said she had no doubt about her father’s innocence and blamed his travails on his stubborn insistence that all victims be remembered, not just those killed by foreigners. Sitting on a bench near a tree pinned with an American flag commemorating a man from San Francisco executed in Stalin’s Great Terror, she pointed with disgust at a snow-covered hole dug by the Military Historical Society as part of its search for Russians killed by Finland.
“I am so tired of this circus,” she said. “I don’t understand what they are trying to prove.”
Anatoli Razumov, director of the Center for Recovered Names in St. Petersburg and co-author with Mr. Dmitriev of a book listing the names of more than 6,000 people killed by Stalin’s secret police in or near Sandarmokh, described the hunt for evidence of Finnish atrocities as part of a propaganda campaign by nationalists backed by the Russian state to create “hybrid history.”
The aim, he said, is to muddy clear facts about Russia’s past by mixing them with nationalist tropes and wild conjecture designed to confuse and distort. The same tactics, he added, are being used to muddle the history of Russia’s most infamous killing ground, Katyn Forest, where the Stalin’s secret police, the N.K.V.D., in 1940 executed more than 20,000 Polish military officers, clerics and intellectuals.
The Military Historical Society has been in the vanguard of an effort to rewrite this grim episode, too, reviving a discredited Soviet claim that Hitler’s army was at least partly to blame for the Katyn massacre. (source)
Russia can lie, but in this case, the more she lies, the more obvious it becomes that she is lying blatantly and will make her look foolish.
Massacres happen, especially in big empires. It does not justify them, but admitting them gives closure and allows one to move on from problems, not to have them fester indefinitely. In the case of Russia, her pattern of historical denial and shutdown in cases such as this is not an asset, but a major liability that is being exploited against her. Even her own people do not believe her, and if they do not trust her, how can they be expected to want to fight for a nation they do not believe in?