MEMRI has posted one mighty revealing clip, headlined: "Russian Ambassador in Lebanon Reminisces about the Days of the U.S.S.R.: We Cared about Human Rights More Than in Other Countries."
Right. To call this a "bald-faced lie" is to mince words. But that's not all we can extract from this display.
The exchange opens as the Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, is discoursing in Arabic on "various kinds of socialism," and the "different experiences" of "different socialist countries." Then, seamlessly, he, the Russian ambassador, introduces the subject of human rights.
Russian amb: Take, for example, the issue of human rights. In the USSR, we cared for human rights more than in many other countries.
The obscenity of this claim that the epic abuser of "human rights," the USSR, "cared" for human rights one jot (except as a fake bargaining chip) is only part of what is signficant here. Note that the Russian ambassador did not seem to have mistakenly veered into some political minefield by raising the issue of human rights; he seems to have purposefully chosen to make this claim. I think we might assume he was intent on unspooling a new line of official Russian propaganda, circa 2017, perhaps having mistakenly misread the mettle of his interviewer.
Interviewer: "Was there freedom there?"
Russian amb: "In the 1960s and 1970s, liberties were guaranteed in the USSR."
Interviewer: "So why did people flee the USSR and were killed at the Berlin Wall trying to escape?"
(Good on him.)
Russian amb: "There are always people who want to leave..."
Interviewer: "How can you say there was freedom when people were not allowed to leave?"
Shifting in his chair, the Russian ambassador shifted also from telling lies to grasping at non-sequitors: "When you are starving to death, you don't think much about other things."
Interviewer: "So what was the bright side if people were starving to death?"
Russian amb: "If we delve into the issue of freedom, we realize that liberals and fascists converge at some point."
"Liberals and fascists"?
End of clip. But how instructive it was while it lasted! We have been told and told again that the Soviet Union is no more; it fell. The "evil empire" is gone. Nobody believes "that stuff" any more.
If this were completely true, would the "Russian" ambassador, circa 2017, still be spouting "Soviet" dogma, circa 1970, by praising the Khrushchev-Brezhnev-USSR as a protector of human rights? Would he still be falling back on Marxist cant about "liberals and fascists" converging? Would the bloody Marxist dictator Lenin still lie in state in the heart of Moscow ... ? Of course not. We have been looking at a kind of mirage, a shape-shifting entity whose core has been preserved not only by the Russian state but by the massive interventions of the West. Vladimir Bukovsky documented this long ago, relating his efforts during Boris Yeltsin's reign to organize a truth commission to air and document Soviet crime: The effort would be called off when Yeltsin came under pressure ... from the West (discussed here).
Now we are back to "normal," with the Russian ambassador whitewashing Soviet crime.
Perhaps Amb. Zasypkin should have been more careful, more subtle, more "Aesopian" in his dispensation of Kremlin deception -- and for that miscalculation he may pay. Then again, maybe this outburst on Lebanese TV was just an experiment he was asked to conduct in a "backwater" country -- in Arabic, for gosh sakes -- something that would slip by unnoticed in the European or American media, simply to see how much the world has forgotten.
I don't think I'm giving anything away by suggesting that next time the Russian ambassador try it out on CNN.