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Mariupol “liberated” – Putin’s War, Day 57/58

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ES. Vienna, April 22, 2022

Around 2,000 Ukrainian fighters are still defiantly holding out at the sprawling Azovstal steelworks, with possibly as many civilians sheltering in a warren of tunnels without food, water, or heating. (Photo: Mariupol city council)

Putin’s “technical” operation in Ukraine has entered the territory of Dante’s Inferno, or of a huge psychiatric clinic. The Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu, now back from his mysterious disappearance, was told by Putin (firmly gripping an unusually short table)  that the “operation” had achieved success, and that the devasted city of Mariupol, now mostly rubble,  “liberated”.

Announcing this decision to his silent video audience of one (Shoigu), Putin said that the Russian troops should refrain from risking their own safety by storming or crawling around in the Azovstal plant, ordering them to besiege it instead, “so that not even a fly can escape.”

Iljin02.jpg
Fascism with a Russian face

Meanwhile, the Russian Orthodox Church is increasingly divided about the war, despite the obdurate loyalty to Putin of 75-year-old Patriarch Kirill. The issue of the church’s part in endorsing – even encouraging – the massacres is the focus of numerous reports and serious analysis. So too is Putin’s devotion to the nationalist philosopher, Ivan Ilyin (1883 – 1954), a devotee of Mussolini and Hitler who in exile in 1933 published a book praising National Socialism. His malign influence has been explored most thoroughly by the historian Prof Tim Snyder, author of the influential The Road to Unfreedom (publ. 2018, when it was described as “a good wake up call”, though at the time it was not much heeded).

Ilyn’s tailor-made form of Russian “Christian fascism” appears to have fascinated Putin for years – he even had the Russian state buy up Ilyin’s papers from Michigan State University in 2006, and attended the huge funeral a few days ago of the nationalist MP Vladimir Zhironivsky.

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