Putin’s fascination with fake history and symbolism may run deeper than we think

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It’s not fair Ukraine erasure and the violent desire to wipe out a brotherly country, or at least part of it. According to prominent Kievan, Russian-educated writer and literary translator Elena Kostyukovich, mission and thinking go much further.

In a recent essay titled “What’s Going on in Putin’s Head,” she says that Russia has a toxic craze, starting at the top, with alternative histories from around the world, theories that portray Russians as the true masters of the universe and ancient civilizations like Greece and Rome. as mere inventions of bogus scientists. Fake history, in fact, surpasses even fake news.

This world view is largely based on the volumes of the so-called “New Chronology”, which is the brainchild of mainly two Russian authors, an academician and a mathematician, respectively – Anatoly Fomenko and Gleb Nosovsky. One key premise is that the dark forces tampered with all the history books in libraries around the world at some point in time, erasing or changing the real versions of events and resetting the dates.

According to Kostyukovich, this is one of many mystical, fantastic theories. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle are peddlers, and they have succeeded in capturing a considerable part of the population with them, manipulating the masses towards the conclusion that it is time to make amends for not only losing the Cold War, but also for many years of injustice towards the Russians. For the Kremlin, this is working very well at the moment.

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“They created the idea that any action can be backed up by a pretext,” Kostiukovich told Fox News earlier this month. “It has to have a historical context. It sounds idealistic, but idealism is good for the Russian people and the masses. They love this historical pretext.” She continues: “This is a fake story. But this is what Russian people love very much. Because the idea is that everything in the world can be faked.”

Such an attitude would give carte blanche to doubt or disobey anything and everything that is unpleasant, the theory goes. Kostyukovich, of course, is not on Putin’s reading list. However, she is convinced that Kremlin embraced by such revisionism because of the language used by his top aides, mouthpieces, and the leader himself.

Russian President Vladimir Putin uses state-owned media to spread the Kremlin's information.

Russian President Vladimir Putin uses state-owned media to spread the Kremlin’s information.
(ALEKSEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images, file)

“I read his (Putin’s) speeches with great attention,” she says. “I have seen the lexicon, the expressions that he quotes, and I have seen the names and ideas that he mentions, and he assumes that everyone knows, but not everyone knows. To know all this nonsense, you must read such books, be part of some kind of sect history reenactors and it’s dangerous for all of us.”

This deep, albeit deceptive, dive into the past reinforces the Kremlin’s recent ranting about the need to protect the long-suffering.”Russian world“and put an end to the growing Russophobia propagated by the West.

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Kostiukovich also delves into the symbols used for this campaign against Ukraine and the West in general. The “Z”, plastered on tanks but now codified as something to be added to many official contexts and communiqués, has never been explained. The letter “Z” can be seen on anything from buildings to bumper stickers. The less used, but still prominent, “V” is another symbol of this so-called existential struggle. Not a letter in the Russian alphabet. Thus, it is one of the great mysteries of war.

A serviceman of the Russian Guard (Rosguard) with the letter Z attached, which has become a symbol of the Russian army, stands guard during a rehearsal of the military parade in honor of Victory Day, which will be held on Palace Square on May 9.  celebrate the 77th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War in St. Petersburg.  St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A serviceman of the Russian Guard (Rosguard) with the letter Z attached, which has become a symbol of the Russian army, stands guard during a rehearsal of the military parade in honor of Victory Day, which will be held on Palace Square on May 9. celebrate the 77th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, April 26, 2022
(AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

“By leaving this inexplicable, hazy, unresolved air over everything,” Kostyukovich suggests, “perhaps the regime hopes to further weaken the cognitive and logical abilities of people, constantly noting that they are not required to understand. Just obey and feel. Kostiukovich sees the “Z” as a sort of reversed half of the Nazi swastika, which she sees as an odd symbol choice for a war against alleged Nazis in Ukraine.

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However, she believes that this symbolism comes from a perverse infatuation of certain segments of the Russian government with SS soldiers from The Second World War who, in all their clean-shaven and polished shoes, were portrayed in many Soviet films. She suggests that “Z” may even represent the Nazi strike group “Center”, which conquered Ukraine. Kostiukovich says there may even be “romanticization” or “that aesthetic” and “that destructive energy, that unstoppable power mixed with elegance and unholy evil.”

By the way, last week Kostyukovich, who now lives in Italy but whose work has for many years closely connected her with Russia, renounced Russian citizenship. According to the author, this is easier said than done. The passport isn’t just torn up, it’s a lengthy bureaucratic process that, in her case, was dragged out for three kopecks owed by the tax, she said, laughing at the obvious absurdity of being a hostage for a few kopecks.

Ukrainian soldiers set the national flag on the Zmeiny Island in the Black Sea on July 7, 2022.  The Ukrainian military returned the flag of Ukraine to the island, which for some time was under the control of Russian troops.

Ukrainian soldiers set the national flag on the Zmeiny Island in the Black Sea on July 7, 2022. The Ukrainian military returned the flag of Ukraine to the island, which for some time was under the control of Russian troops.
(Press service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine via AP)

Kostiukovich, who says she and many exiled Russians are doing everything they can to try and help. Ukrainian refugeesresist this war and fight for democracy in Russia, dismisses her gesture as nothing compared to what imprisoned dissidents Alexei Navalny and most recently Ilya Yashin sacrifice in protest against their government’s policies.

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“They will be symbols,” she says. “They will be heroes. They will be the future leaders of Russia. Not those who in Europe.”