Before Russia invaded Ukraine, Vladimir Putin had shown himself to be a racist, fascist dictator – Scotsman comment
But this should not have been a surprise to the West, given his actions and words over two decades of rule in Russia.
In a 2019 interview, Putin effectively spelled out his opposition to democracy by declaring that liberalism, the ideology that underpins it, was “obsolete”.
And he went further. Multiculturalism was "no longer tenable”, he said, before claiming “migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected”.
This is the language of a racist who believes in ‘monoculturalism’, who views outsiders as violent criminals, and who lies to support his world view – liberals believe in human rights, which apply to everyone, including migrants, but they still send murderers and rapists to prison.
His prejudice also came out when asked about Russian interference in the 2016 US election, in aid of Donald Trump. Speaking about 13 Russian nationals charged by the US authorities, Putin said: “Maybe they're not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship.” So a Russian Jew, according to Putin, is not Russian.
It was odd that he said Ukrainians were not Russians, because part of his justification for invading Ukraine is that they are “one people”.
In a tedious essay, called On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians, published last year, Putin turned amateur historian in an attempt to prove this.
And in a speech shortly before the invasion, he accused Ukraine’s government of trying to “distort the consciousness, the historical memory of millions of people” so that they viewed themselves as Ukrainian.
If Putin had been writing in the 1930s, he would almost certainly have argued that Russians and Ukrainians were “one race”.
In Ukraine, Chechnya and Syria, where Russian troops have deliberately targeted civilians, he has shown the same contempt for the right to life as fascist dictators of old. For Putin, it is ‘the people’ who matter, so long as they bow down to him, and not ‘the person’.
This is the man in control of a vast nuclear arsenal and with whom the democratic world must now deal, in one way or another.
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