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Putin vs. Ukrainian history

24 minutes
Putin vs. Ukrainian history
00:0023:46

On February 21, Vladimir Putin delivered a nearly hour-long televised lecture on Soviet history, describing what he clearly believes are the flimsy foundations of Ukrainian statehood and arguing that the government in Kyiv owes its territory today to the supposed generosity of the Bolsheviks, particularly Vladimir Lenin.

To assess this presentation of Ukrainian and Soviet history, Meduza spoke to Dr. Faith Hillis, a professor of Russian history at the University of Chicago, where she specializes in 19th and 20th century politics, culture, and ideas, exploring specifically how Russia's peculiar political institutions — and its status as a multiethnic empire — shaped public opinion and political cultures. Her most recent book, “Utopia’s Discontents: Russian Exiles and the Quest for Freedom, 1830–1930,” is the first synthetic history of the Russian revolutionary emigration before the revolution of 1917.

Timestamps for this episode:

  • (3:21) Why history is almost irrelevant to what is happening on the ground in Ukraine today
  • (7:57) Moscow’s “gifts” to Ukraine
  • (12:08) How the Bolsheviks reconstituted the empire
  • (19:08) Ukrainian civic identity and “code-switching”
More about Putin’s flawed grasp of history

‘Fantasy is not history’ Historian Victoria Smolkin assesses Putin’s claim that modern-day Ukraine is a ‘gift’ from the Bolsheviks

More about Putin’s flawed grasp of history

‘Fantasy is not history’ Historian Victoria Smolkin assesses Putin’s claim that modern-day Ukraine is a ‘gift’ from the Bolsheviks

Producer, sound editing, and mixing — Kevin Rothrock

Send any questions or comments to kevin@meduza.io

Theme music — Victor Davydov

Rody Bozhe Zhyto by Ukrainian Village Voices (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)