September 19, 2008, - 10:52 am
It’s BAAACK!: Soviet-Style, Anti-American Repression Returns to Russia; Say Buh-Bye to Halloween, Valentine’s Day
By Debbie Schlussel
It’s not just that Vladimir Putin, who orchestrates the puppet strings of Medvedev, was the head of the Soviet KGB. It’s not just that the invasion of neighboring Georgia was an ominous remind of the former Soviet-dominated dictatorship and its totalitarian satellite states.
It’s many other things that are omens of a return to Soviet Communism throughout Russia and its neighboring former Soviet provinces. The latest is Russia’s proposed ban of “Western celebrations” Halloween and Valentine’s Day.
It’s an echo of Muslims who wanted to and successfully banned Halloween celebrations in some public schools here in the U.S. And the involvement of the anti-Semitic Russian Orthodox Church–which itself underwent Soviet persecution but was successfully secularized and Sovietized by Communists–is noteworthy.
Russia is opening a new front in its battle with the West over last month’s fighting in neighboring Georgia: a move to ban the Western holidays of Halloween and Valentine’s Day as bad influences on the nation’s youth.
The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, will consider a measure this month to guard students from what the government considers destructive Western influences, such as the two festive celebrations that are growing more popular in Russia.
Maxim Mishchenko, a Duma member, says he is pushing the bill to guard the “moral and spiritual upbringing” of the nation’s youth and to promote traditional Russian culture and values rather than those imported from the West.
The proposed legislation reflects the rising nationalism here and a sense that Russia is threatened by U.S. and European culture and military powers, analysts and lawmakers say.
“All this is part of the mind-set of we need to protect ourselves – and protect ourselves in a conservative way,” says Maria Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Center, a think tank.
The recent conflict with Georgia, in which Russian troops moved deep into the former Soviet republic, helps push the proposal, says Alexandra Ochirova, social issues commission chairwoman of the Public Chamber, a Kremlin-picked advisory group of prominent citizens.
“The events in the Caucasus have direct connections with the policy of our state, because for the first time citizens have witnessed that the state is able to protect every concrete Russian citizen,” she says.
The proposal dovetails with a new Russian version of Valentine’s, called the Day of Family, Love and Fidelity. The holiday, held in June, was backed by first lady Svetlana Medvedev and the Russian Orthodox Church. Among its goals: stimulate a sense of family life and to stem Russia’s declining birth rate.
Mishchenko says students should celebrate Russian holidays, not those heralded in the United States and Europe.
For the record, I recognize that many Christians in America do not celebrate Halloween, as they see it as a celebration of witchcraft and paganism. The same goes for religious Jews, who see it as a celebration of paganist and non-Jewish beliefs. As a kid, my modern Orthodox Jewish Day School used to hold assemblies every year, telling us not to trick-or-treat (which few kids of any religion do anymore on Halloween, anyway).
But despite its religious origins and connotations, Halloween became a largely secular, Western holiday primarily in America, and that’s what it is. And that’s the reason Russia is trying to ban it and Valentine’s Day celebrations.
Creeping Communism is spreading its tentacles throughout the former Soviet superpower.