NYT reports Russian ceremony for Stalin's victims, forgets to mention socialism (or Walter Duranty)

In a report describing a memorial ceremony to Stalin's victims held in Moscow yesterday, the New York Times didn't have much trouble taking a few shots at Vladimir Putin's government, but left out a little of the background.

Moscow — An annual ceremony to commemorate victims of repression under Stalin proceeded Monday after Moscow city officials backed down from a decision to bar it from its traditional site, a memorial near the headquarters of the former KGB.

Throughout the day, activists and descendants of victims gathered at the Solovetsky Stone memorial, which was brought from the former Solovki prison camp, a notorious destination for political prisoners in the 1920s and 1930s.

Bundled against the cold, they stood in line for hours to approach a rostrum and read out the names, ages, professions and dates of death of victims ranging from Soviet bureaucrats to factory workers to peasants to priests.

“This day is a reminder of tragic pages in the history of the country, when numerous people were patently falsely accused of crimes, shot to death or sent to corrective labor camps or into exile,” said Yelena Zhemkova, executive director of International Memorial, the human rights organization that created the event, in opening remarks.

I guess we can give the Times credit for covering it all, given that The Nation isn't covering it. Maybe the reporter struggled to get it into print and only got her editors to allow it by saying it was about Getting Putin, not the actual event itself.

But then, there's the missing 'c' word throughout that entire Times report. Communism. The philosophy that the mass atrocity was done in the name of, in order to build "a better world." As if that were not a relevant detail.

There's also no 's' word about what befell those 30,000 people, not even in a spelling out of the name of the state that carried out the massacre as a clue: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Too much uncomfortable detail.

And strangely enough, the Times didn't mention its own role in the atrocities, in the name of its previous Times reporter on the case, Walter Duranty, who knew about the mass killings, kept them out of print, and mouthed Stalin's mendacious propaganda in place of the actual news as it happened is rather famous. Without the helpfulness of Duranty to the socialist cause during the 1932-33 man-made famine that killed 10 million people in Ukraine, the communists would have had a much harder time getting away with the killings of the 1937-38 Great Terror being memorialized in the Times report.

You could argue that bringing up Duranty would be wrong in a report of this kind because the one he covered up, the Holodormor of Ukraine, was the wrong socialist massacre given the five-year-span between the one being remembered in Moscow and the one Duranty knew and lied about. The communists have so many massacres to speak of, but note that in the Times reporting today on the Moscow ceremony, victims from earlier massacres, such as one cited as killed in 1934, would place that victim outside the parameters of the 1937-38 Great Terror, and make him a victim of yet another separate socialist mass killing. What's more, Duranty loudly defended the 1937-38 Great Terror as necessary eggs to be broken in the creation of the communist omelette. So Duranty comes back into the time range of the picture.

With those details omitted from the Times report, the only purpose of its report seems to have been to take a shot at the current Russian government, which seems to be trying to minimize the matter, given its own record, but certainly hasn't stopped it. Nice try, Times, but you're missing the whale in middle of the room.

Somewhere, Walter Duranty is smiling.

In a report describing a memorial ceremony to Stalin's victims held in Moscow yesterday, the New York Times didn't have much trouble taking a few shots at Vladimir Putin's government, but left out a little of the background.

Moscow — An annual ceremony to commemorate victims of repression under Stalin proceeded Monday after Moscow city officials backed down from a decision to bar it from its traditional site, a memorial near the headquarters of the former KGB.

Throughout the day, activists and descendants of victims gathered at the Solovetsky Stone memorial, which was brought from the former Solovki prison camp, a notorious destination for political prisoners in the 1920s and 1930s.

Bundled against the cold, they stood in line for hours to approach a rostrum and read out the names, ages, professions and dates of death of victims ranging from Soviet bureaucrats to factory workers to peasants to priests.

“This day is a reminder of tragic pages in the history of the country, when numerous people were patently falsely accused of crimes, shot to death or sent to corrective labor camps or into exile,” said Yelena Zhemkova, executive director of International Memorial, the human rights organization that created the event, in opening remarks.

I guess we can give the Times credit for covering it all, given that The Nation isn't covering it. Maybe the reporter struggled to get it into print and only got her editors to allow it by saying it was about Getting Putin, not the actual event itself.

But then, there's the missing 'c' word throughout that entire Times report. Communism. The philosophy that the mass atrocity was done in the name of, in order to build "a better world." As if that were not a relevant detail.

There's also no 's' word about what befell those 30,000 people, not even in a spelling out of the name of the state that carried out the massacre as a clue: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Too much uncomfortable detail.

And strangely enough, the Times didn't mention its own role in the atrocities, in the name of its previous Times reporter on the case, Walter Duranty, who knew about the mass killings, kept them out of print, and mouthed Stalin's mendacious propaganda in place of the actual news as it happened is rather famous. Without the helpfulness of Duranty to the socialist cause during the 1932-33 man-made famine that killed 10 million people in Ukraine, the communists would have had a much harder time getting away with the killings of the 1937-38 Great Terror being memorialized in the Times report.

You could argue that bringing up Duranty would be wrong in a report of this kind because the one he covered up, the Holodormor of Ukraine, was the wrong socialist massacre given the five-year-span between the one being remembered in Moscow and the one Duranty knew and lied about. The communists have so many massacres to speak of, but note that in the Times reporting today on the Moscow ceremony, victims from earlier massacres, such as one cited as killed in 1934, would place that victim outside the parameters of the 1937-38 Great Terror, and make him a victim of yet another separate socialist mass killing. What's more, Duranty loudly defended the 1937-38 Great Terror as necessary eggs to be broken in the creation of the communist omelette. So Duranty comes back into the time range of the picture.

With those details omitted from the Times report, the only purpose of its report seems to have been to take a shot at the current Russian government, which seems to be trying to minimize the matter, given its own record, but certainly hasn't stopped it. Nice try, Times, but you're missing the whale in middle of the room.

Somewhere, Walter Duranty is smiling.