Nina Khrushcheva: Shades of Stalin

Roundup: Media's Take

Nina Khrushcheva is Nikita Khrushchev's great-granddaughter.

Nostalgia for the Soviet past is nothing new in certain quarters of the former U.S.S.R. But the ongoing show trial in Kiev of Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s former prime minister, is providing a dark new twist to the theme. Ever since the U.S.S.R. collapsed, businessmen and politicians have sought to breathe new life into various Soviet practices, usually with harmless, if kitschy, results. Oligarchs decorate their Danish-modern offices with socialist-realist paintings of Stalin dressed in the white ice-cream-vendor uniforms he favored. Mothers dress their children in retro uniforms of the Young Pioneers, the communist version of the Boy Scouts. A restaurant in St. Petersburg used to run endless newsreel clips of my great-grandfather Nikita Khrushchevmaking speeches or inspecting new-model tractors.

Tymoshenko’s trial, however, marks a new low. A post-Soviet state is bringing back to life one of the bedrock innovations of Soviet repression: the political show trial. Of course, the 2003 arrest and subsequent conviction of oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Russia is sometimes called a show trial, but it was, like so much else in Putin’s Russia, a corrupted version of laws the country had adopted since communism’s demise (in Khodorkovsky’s case, on tax evasion), not a return to Soviet ways.

In Tymoshenko’s trial, however, many elements of Stalin’s grotesque legal charades are present: a near-hysterical prosecutor, a compliant judge, a ruler who washed his hands of the affair like Pontius Pilate. Tymoshenko may not be exactly squeaky clean—she made a fortune in the shady world of gas trading in the 1990s, for which she faced criminal charges in Russia. But then again, no one in post-Soviet politics is....

Read entire article at Newsweek

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