Welcome!

Dear Readers:

Welcome to Awful Avalanche, here is my blog concept and what I do:

I scan online newspapers from Russian-language press, in search of interesting stories and political topics.  These are stories which Russians themselves are reading and commenting upon.

I translate or at least summarize into English the content therein.

My target audience:  Russophiles, or anybody else who is interested.

I pick stories and analysis which interest me, generally from the following categories (this might evolve):

  • Breaking News,
  • Celebrity Gossip
  • True Crime,
  • Cat Fighting,
  • Human Interest Stories,
  • maybe even some Cute Animal Stories too!

Sincerely yours,

yalensis

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Ukro-Hungary Two-Peter Catfight – Part II

Dear Readers:

Once again, this catfight involves two cats both named Peter.  Yesterday I presented the Hungarian side of the story; today it is Ukraine’s side to rebut these harsh allegations that they are repressing ethnic Hungarians.

We may start with the [apocryphal] story of some French diplomat, possibly George Clemenceau, railing against pan-Germanism with the joke that “I love Germany so much that I prefer to see several of them.”  In a similar vein, there are some people out there (and not just Russians) who might prefer to see several Ukraines.  Well, already there are two Ukraines:  Kievan Ukraine; and the Donbass.  So, why should there not be a third, namely a Carpathian Ukraine as well?  Where ethnic Hungarians and the others can frolic to their heart’s content?

The future Carpathian Autonomy?

Well, not if Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has anything to say about the matter!  Poroshenko angrily denied that Ukraine represses minorities, and basically told Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó to mind his own business.  See, Budapesht had threatened to bloc Ukraine’s participation in the “Ukraine – NATO” summit.  Which would have left just a “-” [hyphen] NATO summit, I reckon.  Budapesht said they would reduce Ukraine to just a hyphen unless the Ukros repealed the mova-only education law!  In other words, Hungary is threatening to isolate Ukraine from the European community – gasp!

Attila goes for a ride with his German bride, Kriemhilde

“Nobody can block Ukraine’s entry into NATO,” Petro rebutted bluntly.  “Those who attempt to isolate Kiev will end up isolating themselves.”  In other words, they will be hoisted on their own pet-ard!

The Huns responded by demanding, once again, that Kiev repeal its unfair and unbearable language law.  Hungarian children should be allowed to learn Hungarian in school, with proper teachers and books and stuff.

Kiev retorted by, once again, telling the Huns to mind their own business.  Poroshenko indulged in heroic name-calling:  He called the Hungarians “Fifth Columnists within NATO” — in other words, the Huns are only in NATO to subvert it from within.  Probably on the orders of Russia.

Petro even went so far as to lecture the proud descendants of Attila, how they should not speak to the proud descendants of Stepan Bandera in the ugly tone of threats and blackmail:  “It is my deep and firm conviction,” Poroshenko avowed, “that he who speaks to us in the language of blackmail — shall find himself isolated.”

In other words:  If you Huns try to put Baby in a corner, then Baby will put YOU in the corner!  So there!

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Ukro-Hungary Two-Peter Catfight – Part I

Dear Readers:

I have a delicious geo-political catfight, which I will present in two parts.  For the purposes of “Fair and Balanced”, today I will present the Hungarian side; and then tomorrow, the Ukrainian rebuttal.

So, without further ado, and myself taking a principled position of strict neutrality, let’s jump right down into the mud.  For extra juiciness, this catfight involves Two Peters.

Péter_Szijjártó: “THAT guy really ticks me off.”

So, we start with the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó. Despite the amount of diacritics over his name and a suspiciously pro-Ukrainian hair-do, Péter seems like a fairly reasonable type of guy.  He was born in 1978 and belongs to the Fidesz Party, which is described as “national-conservative”, whatever that means in the modern world.

So, he apparently started the fight, by declaring that Hungary will NEVER support Ukraine joining NATO until they (the Ukrainians) learn how to be nicer to their national minorities.  Such as Hungarians.  The backstory being, of course, that Ukraine, like all post-Soviet nations is a patchwork of ethnic minorities.  But the current government in Kiev being firmly in the hands of a Ukrainian nationalist junta, which considers themselves (ethnic Ukrainians) to be the only true Aryans and the masters of their titular state.

Petro Poroshenko: “I regard you Huns as a Fifth Column in our glorious Reich.”

Well, in truth, Hungarians are not really Aryans, anyhow, being descendants of Attila the Hun and all that, but we don’t have time to go into all that history right now.  Suffice it to say that the Hungarians look out for their own.  As well they should. So, this is what Szijjártó had to say about the way the Ukrainians treat ethnic Hungarians living within the borders of the Ukrainian titular state [part of my job here being to see how many times I can repeat the word “titular” because it sounds funny]: “Hungary has let it be known very clearly, that it will not support Ukraine’s joining NATO, until this situation has been improved.”  Hungary, says Péter, will continue to back the rights of the Hungarian minority until such a time as Kiev has granted them (the ethnic Hungarians) legal guarantees within the Ukrainian titular state.

Julius Caesar: Taught the art of “divide and conquer” to the barbarians.

While the rest of the civilized world is starting to think that Ukraine needs to be divided, as Caesar once said, in partes tres, namely three parts (or possibly even more), a federation, in other words — Ukraine is doubling down in its nationalist repressivity.  Why?  Because that’s all they know how to do.  They are a hammer, and everybody else is just a nail.

The backstory here being that Kiev passed an “educational” bill which sees the Ukrainian language as the only official language, even though the Ukrainian dialect is spoken by a minority within the titular nation.  This law prevents other languages from being spoken and taught in the schools.  This mostly affects Russian, but also affects other local languages that are in use, such as Hungarian in certain Carpathian enclaves.

In fact, Szijjártó is so ticked off about this language situation, that he even wants to exclude Ukraine from the European Union, let alone NATO!

Now, the Ukrainians claim that their language law does not impede anyone.  This is a blatant lie.  As ethnic Hungarians have discovered, in practical terms, that it actually does impede them.  The right to use one’s own native language and have one’s kids learn it in school, is a fundamental human right.  And furthermore, the Hungarian minority would like more autonomy in general, in their own communities; but the Ukrainian nationalists have refused to budge on the issue of federalization.  Hence, Hungary is ticked off, and will continue to block Ukraine’s entry into NATO.

Next:  the Ukrainian side of the story:  “We will never give in to Fifth Columnists…”

[to be continued]

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Ukrainian Soldier Complains Of Army Life – On Facebook

From the transcripts of the Caine Mutiny Court Martial by  Herman Wouk [sort of]:

Lieutenant Barney Greenwald: So, from what I understand, gentlemen, in the middle of a typhoon, u were tweeting on your Facebooks about Captain Queeg’s humorous antics running the ship aground?

Willie Keith:  OMG, we got a thousand “likes” in the first few seconds.  From all the guys who ever had to serve with that joker. If we’d had more bandwidth, we would’ve posted the video on youtube.  But we managed to Instagram a photo of those little metal balls he plays with.    You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud to figure out that… LOL, the things that Tom told me about that clown, you had to be there to get the jokes…  See, Steve was keeping a log of all the stupid things that Queeg did, and what a coward he was, running from one deck to the other every time the Japs fired off a shot..

Sure, but that’s not the point…

Lieutenant Barney Greenwald:  Who’s the clown here, ass-wipe?  When good men like Queeg were sailing around fighting the Japanese, you spoiled brats were just sitting there with your iPhones and tablets, trolling them.  If you’d spent less time texting your bullshit, and more time streaming the Amazon hit The Man In the High Castle, then you might have a clue what life would be like if the Nazis actually won.  Like, my family and I would be in an incinerator by now…

Thomas Keefer:  Boo hoo!  [sad face]

Lieutenant Barney Greenwald:   And you, young man [turning on Tom viciously] would find yourself being smacked in the face by a Jap and forced to the end of the taxi line.  All because you degenerates never learned the meaning the word MILITARY DISCIPLINE.

Thomas Keefer:  That’s two words, dude… [smiley face].  Like I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted by this brown-noser, “The Navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots.”

Willie:  Good one, Tom!  [Clicks on the “Like” button.]



Dear Readers:

This important lesson in American literature by way of introduction to this story, which is about a very different military organization.  Namely, the Ukrainian army.

The hero of our story is a man named Yury Misyagin.  His Facebook shows him to be an ugly brute with a big nose.  Yury serves on the front line of the Donbass front, in the 72nd Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Misyagin has been dutifully reporting to his followers, about the serious situation of the Brigade, the losses they have suffered, and the antics of his commanding officer, a man named Ruslan Tatus.

According to Misyagin, Tatus is a master of military deception and “pokazukha“, knows all the old “sovok” ways, is adept at pulling the wool over the eyes of  the senior officers and showing them only what they want to see.

Misyagin complains that the brave men on the front lines are not allowed to return fire at the Seps — if they do, then Tatus threatens them with a court martial.  In digust, many good men have quit the brigade, especially those who have been trained by the “Western partners”.  Even some top officers have quit, like four just in the past week.

[Lieutenant Greenwald interrupts:  “You’re telling me that men can just come and go as they please, like this was a job on the construction site, and they can just quit if they don’t like the pay and conditions??]

Life on the Svetlodar Arc

Misyagin goes on to kvetch about the “catastrophic” losses suffered by the Brigade.  Positioned as they are on the Svetlodar Arc, in the past 40 days they have already lost 2 men (dead) and 23 wounded.

Misyagin accuses Commander Tatus of lying about the amount of supplies and equipment they have.  Tatus over-estimates by at least 65%.  In reality, the Brigade is very poorly equipped.

On his Facebook Misyagin accuses Tatus of cowardice, and here is the proof:  When a Deputy of the Supreme Rada arrived at the front to inspect the brigade, Tatus flew into a panic, starting bawling, with snot running out of his nose, and then ran away.

ROFL!

Posted in Military and War | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Heroic Defender of The White Race Eulogized In Kiev

Dear Readers:

I don’t often print obituaries, but when I do it must be from the tabloid PolitNavigator!  So, today, under the category of “Picking Low-Hanging Fruit”, I have this piece, under the byline of Vladimir Gladkov.  The lede begins with the action of the Kiev Parliament (Supreme Rada) this morning; the session began with a minute of silence to honor the memory of a Ukrainian “human rights” hero named Levko Lukyanenko, who croaked a couple of days ago, on July 7.  According to his wiki, Levko was born in 1928 in the Chernigov Oblast of the Ukraine.

Levko Lukyanenko

From 1944-1953 Lukyanenko served in the Soviet Army, joined the Communist Party of the USSR, and earned a law degree from Moscow University, in 1958.  It was around this time that he turned against the Soviet Union, became a dissident, and even organized a clandestine group that proposed to split the Ukraine from the Soviet Union.  For this he was imprisoned; released in 1976 and became one of the founders of the “Ukrainian Helsinki Group” — the Helsinki Group being a nexus of pro-Westie and anti-Soviet dissident types.  For this, he was arrested again; released in 1988.  In all, he served 26 years of his life in Soviet prisons.

When Ukraine became independent, Levko was elected as a Deputy of the Rada; he and like-minded colleagues organized a political party called the Ukrainian Republican Party.  Since that time he led an active life in Ukrainian politics, finally dying at the ripe old age of 89 years.



According to the PolitNavigator piece, Levko’s death was mourned very heavily by Andriy Parubiy, the openly-Nazi Chairman of the Rada.  Parubiy:  “I want to inform you, that on Saturday, after a serious illness, an outstanding Ukrainian has passed away:  the author of Ukrainian independence, a Ukrainian dissident, a peoples deputy of many sessions; Hero of the Ukraine Levko Grigorievich Lukyanenko.  This is a heavy grief and a loss for us all.  I call on everyone to observe a minute of silence, to honor the memory of Levko Grigorievich in this session hall, where he spent so many years.”

Parubiy pledges his allegiance to Stepan Bandera

One reason Parubiy is so cut up about Lukyanenko kicking the bucket, is because the two men shared the same white-racist ideology, even though they may have arrived at it from different angles:  Parubiy from the Nazi/Banderite side; and Lukyanenko from his “Helsinki” path as a routine anti-Soviet dissident in the pocket of the Western “democracies”.  Those same “democracies” not always so picky about their friends, in fact eager to utilize anyone so long as they are anti-Soviet/anti-Russian, whoever be the current enemy du jour.

Despite his reputation as a “human rights” activist, Lukyanenko was actually not very much interested in the rights of anyone other than “white people”, or Ukrainian “Aryans”, to be more specific.  As a politician he had fulminated against mixed-race marriages and declared Ukraine to be “a nation of the white race”.  Well, most Ukrainians are white, but not all.  Believe it or not, there are some African-Ukrainians, not to mention Tatars and Central Asian types; and also some Joooz, they may have paler skin but probably don’t count as strictly “white”, I reckon.

Lukyanenko once clarified his position thusly:  “A Ukrainian man or woman has the right to marry the representative of a colored race; however, if they do they should be required to leave the Ukraine and renounce their citizenship.  Thus we shall be able to preserve everyone’s rights:  the right of a person to marry a non-white person; and the right of the government to remain a nation of the white race.”

“Will you marry me, my dear!”

Also, somewhat ironically for a “Helsinki democracy” type, Lukyanenko had turned against the Western European path of development and started promoting paganism as a counter-balance to the traditional Christian faith.  Well, maybe this last point can be ascribed to age-related dementia!  Not that there is anything wrong with paganism, you just don’t expect it from a Ukrainian nationalist; like, usually, they’re Catholics, or something like that.  Levko:  “Consolidating the force of our genetic code and surmounting the Christian rift of man against nature; on the path of our native, national pagan religion, as reworked by a thousand years of experience of monotheism — this will give our nation biological and spiritual unity and strength.”  Uh huh.  Sign me up.

Posted in Breaking News, Celebrity Gossip, Russian History | Tagged | 5 Comments

Whence the Stalin-Tito Quarrel? – Part VI

“I must really say that he is a veteran Communist, this Herr Josip Broz, a consistent man. Unfortunately he is our enemy. He really has earned his title of Marshal. When we catch him we shall do him in at once; you can be sure of that; he is our enemy. But I wish we had a dozen Titos in Germany… “ (Heinrich Himmler)

“We have said, and we will always say again, that we are opposed to the intervention of foreign military forces. But which was the lesser evil? Chaos, civil war, counter-revolution, and a new world war, or an intervention by Soviet troops? … I say clearly that the first alternative was the worst thing that could have occurred, and the second, the intervention of Soviet troops, was a necessary evil.” (Tito on the Hungarian Revolution of 1956)

[Both quotes from Jasper Ridley, Tito: A Biography (Constable and Company Ltd., 1994]



Dear Readers:

Today finishing my review of this historical piece by Evgeny Krutikov. Where we left off, the Stalin-Tito feud was in full bloom.  Stalin was dispatching assassins to try to put a cap in Tito.  Tito vigorously defended himself and threatened to send counter-assassins, like, maybe give Stalin a taste of his own medicine.  Of the two men, Tito had more experience on the battlefield:  as a partisan commander his feats had been so legendary, that even his Nazi opponents gave him reluctant praise.  His physical courage was never in any doubt.

Josip Broz Tito

To those who claim that Tito was an anti-Communist, this is clearly not true, as even a glancing knowledge of his biography shows.  In fact, later, in 1956, after Stalin was dead and the feud had cooled down, Tito defended Soviet tanks moving into Hungary in 1956 to restore order.  Clearly not the act of an anti-Communist.  One could boldly state, that Tito never had a problem with Communism, or even with the Soviet Union.  His problem was just with one guy:  Stalin.  Once Stalin died, the problem went away.  “No people, no problem” as Stalin himself was once alleged to have said.  [A fake quote, I hasten to add.]

Not A Team Player

Where we left off yesterday, Stalin’s “favorite”, as the French say, was a Slovenian Communist named Pero Popivoda.  Stalin felt no pangs of conscience misusing Pero’s considerable military talents by attempting to turn him into an assassin.  One wonders why Stalin did not employ his best assassin for this dirty task, namely, Nahum Eitingon, the mastermind of the Trotsky assassination.  Well, maybe the latter was already gearing himself up for the infamous “Jewish Doctors Plot” soon to be on the horizon.

But Stalin possessed other resources, such as all the printing presses of the satellite nations.  In Czechoslovakia a new “émigré” Yugoslav paper came into being, called “Nova Borba” (“New Struggle”), as a jab at the official Yugoslav Communist newspaper “Borba” (“Struggle”).  The New Struggle went out all-medieval on the “Tito-Ranković” clique, practically spitting its venom all over the place like green ink.   As Krutikov remarks, these attacks against Tito were all-pervasive in the Soviet press.  You couldn’t even swing a dead cat in the Eastern bloc without hitting such a headline.

The Tito-Ranković clique

The Ranković in question, as we touched on yesterday, being this guy, Aleksandar Ranković, Tito’s second-in-command and better half, a tough hard-line Communist and Serbian patriot.  According to his wiki page, Ranković is considered a national hero by modern-day Serbs, perhaps a precursor to the martyred Slobodan Milošević. Ranković tended to balance out Tito (who would bend over backwards to accommodate the other nationalities) by defending traditional Serbian interests, such as Kosovo.  All in all, the two men made a good team.  Unlike Stalin who, as we have seen, was not a team player at all.  With Stalin, it was “My way or the highway”.

As to the allegations of “Nova Borba” and the other Stalinist mouth-pieces, as to the supposed counter-revolutionary inclinations of the Yugoslav leaders, one need only remind oneself, that this is the same guy who accused practically all the Old Bolsheviks of being Nazi spies.  Of Lenin’s entire team leaving just Stalin and a handful of his cronies as the only pure ones left who didn’t sell out to the fascists.

Amazing that there are some “Furries” out there in the world who still believe this crap.  And these same people will also believe that Tito was a British spy.  But I digress…

Krutikov writes that Stalin considered the option of direct military intervention to remove Tito.  As in, moving Soviet tanks into Yugoslavia to restore order.  However, these plans were rejected, due to the fact that the Soviets would have to rely on allies Bulgaria and Romania — whose military capabilities were dubious, at best.  Here the Soviet generals got the final word, and, Slava Bogu, were actually listened to.

Girl soldiers of the Yugoslav Peoples Army

The Yugoslavs, in turn, were preparing for an incursion and had a plan in place.  Their plan was to withdraw into the mountainous reasons of Montenegro, Bosnia and Kosovo, and there unfold full-out partisan war against the Soviet invaders.  Thank the gods it never came to that!  But the interesting fact, as Krutikov points out, is that the preparations themselves led to a change in the structure of the Yugoslav army, which persisted all the way to 1991, and even affecting the later Balkan wars of 1991-1995.  This consisted of the following:  In preparation for Soviet invasion, the Yugoslav army was divided into two parts:  the regular cadre army; and the local defense militias.  The latter were territory-based and possessed varying weaponry.  Due to their territorial nature, these militias later became prone to go over to the side of the nationalist forces, whereas the federal standing army remained pro-Serbian.

Conclusions

Krutikov draws the following conclusions from this interesting history:

  • Stalin was right to restrain Tito-Dimitrov from creating a Balkan “super-state”, this would have for sure provoked an Anglo-American intervention.  Or maybe not.  And maybe this super-state would have come crashing down even bigger than Yugoslavia eventually did.  Or maybe not.  Since real history does not concern itself with “What-If” scenarios.
  • For many Serbs, this era of history is associated with the geographical toponym of “Goli Otok”, which is Serbian for “Naked Island”.  This is a tiny island off the Croatian shore which was used as a prison even back in Austro-Hungarian times.  During the Yugoslav Partisan times, Croatian Ustashi and Serbian Chetniki were put in there.  A few years later, in 1948, “Stalinists” and “anti-Titoites” joined the latter in their cells.  Before one rushes to condemn this repression, one needs to recall that Pero Popivoda was not the only “deserter” nor the only wannabe assassin that Tito had to deal with.  Stalin had more than one arrow in his quiver.
  • Serbian film-maker Emir Kusturica made a movie about this island prison in 1985, called Otac na službenom putu (“Father went away on business”).  Which is how most Serbs know anything about this time in their history.
  • “Goli Otok” is now a museum, no more prisoners there.

THE END

Posted in Friendship of Peoples, Russian History | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Whence the Stalin-Tito Quarrel? – Part V

“Our sacrifices are terrible. I can safely say that there is no other part of the world which has been devastated on a vaster scale than Yugoslavia. Every tenth Yugoslav has perished in this struggle in which we were forced to wrest armaments from our enemies, to freeze without clothing, and to die without medication. .”
(Josip Broz Tito)

To Joseph Stalin:  Stop sending people to kill me! We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle… If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send a very fast working one to Moscow and I certainly won’t have to send another.
(Josip Broz Tito)



Dear Readers:

Continuing my review of this historical piece by Evgeny Krutikov. Where we left off, it was 1948 and a lot of stuff was happening all over the world.  Including a big blow-out of a quarrel between two great men, Stalin and Tito.  Far be it from me to take sides in that ancient dogfight, nor to assign blame, nor to accuse one or the other party of starting it.

The Pot Simmers

We mentioned that Stalin was upset with Yugoslavia’s blatant attempt to annex Albania, or at least parts of Albania.  As always in this part of the world, the Black Hole, the locus of all the problems, lay in Kosovo.  In this vast geopolitical Game of  Thrones, Stalin, as was his wont, managed to play off Yugoslavia and Albania, turning Enver Hoxha against Tito.  (Not that it probably took that much effort.)

The other major issue, as we had mentioned, was the Greek Civil War.  Tito wanted to do more to help the Greek Communist side, but Stalin didn’t want to get involved.  Here, once again, Stalin was true to his old form, employing a whole bag of tricks that had worked a decade earlier, to squelch the Spanish Revolution.  Namely, tossing brave Communist fighters under the bus, then glibly passing his betrayal off as a state necessity of Soviet Realpolitik.  Stalin managed to force even Georgi Dimitrov (a true-blooded Communist if ever there was one) to abandon his Greek comrades.  Stalin twirling his moustache and emitting the highly cynical remark, that they might be able to evacuate and save some of the comrades from the noose.  And all Dimitrov could do was mumble “Yes sir,” and return to Sofia, a broken man.

Greek fascists display the heads of Communist fighters

And here I cannot do much better than to simply quote the applicable paragraph from the wiki page about the Greek Civil War:

The civil war resulted from a highly polarized struggle between left and right ideologies that started in 1943. From 1944 each side targeted the power vacuum resulting from the end of German-Italian occupation (1941–1945) during World War II. The struggle became one of the first conflicts of the Cold War (c. 1947 to 1991) and represents the first example of Cold War power postwar involvement in the internal politics of a foreign country.  Greece in the end was funded by the US (through the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan) and joined NATO (1952), while the insurgents were demoralized by the bitter split between the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin, who wanted the war ended, and Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito, who wanted it to continue.  Tito was committed to helping the Greek Communists in their efforts, a stance that caused political complications with Stalin, as he had recently agreed with Winston Churchill not to support the Communists in Greece, as documented in their Percentages Agreement of October 1944.

So, who was the better Communist here?  Joseph Stalin?  Or the “bourgeois traitor” Josip Tito?  As the Anglo-Saxons like to say, A leopard does not change his spots.

I mentioned that Krutikov himself takes Stalin’s side, citing the fact that the Soviet Union did not yet possess even a small atom bomb, let alone a Doomsday Weapon, this left it somewhat at the mercy of the trigger-happy United States, which had recently nuked two Japanese cities full of innocent civilians.  This is a valid point.  But still, with Stalin as always, one was never allowed to have a differing opinion on any matter; and if one did, then one was a fascist and an enemy of the state.  In fact, I believe it was precisely Stalin, in this era of history, who invented the current dictionary definition of “fascist” as “somebody who disagrees with me”.

Your Mission Should You Choose To Accept It

Also very true to form, Stalin as leader of the USSR and of the Un-Free World in general (as well as, willy nilly, leader of the International Proletariat) continued to abuse and misuse his state’s military and security forces.  Turning these mighty agencies created by Lenin, into personal goon squads to conduct his feuds against the other alpha males.  Just like some mountain gorilla with an army.

Krutikov writes that, during the years 1948-1953 the Ministry of State Security (MGB) of the USSR opened 20 anti-Yugoslav spy centers throughout Eastern Europe.  Imagine the good that could have been accomplished if all those agents had been used for their proper purpose, namely to spy against Great Britain and the United States!

Szeged, Hungary 1948: Girls studying chemistry in class

In Hungary an anti-Tito center was set up in the city of Szeged, a European center of education and learning. From here former citizens of Yugoslavia were recruited for “diversionary” operations against Tito.  Leading Tito to eventually exclaim in exasperation:  “Stalin, stop sending people to kill me!”  To no avail:  Stalin was like an old woman with a bug in his ear and a set of old feuds that he simply could not let go.

At the time of the rift, 500 Yugoslav officers happened to be studying in Soviet military academies.  From them, as well, on Stalin’s orders, a special unit was created, with the very long name of “The Union of Yugoslav Patriots for the Liberation from the yoke of the fascist Clique Tito-Ranković and from Imperialist Enslavement”. The Ranković in question, being this guy, Tito’s second-in-command, and well known as a strong Serbian patriot in addition to a hard-core Communist.  The Union (of blah blah blah) was headed by a Major-General Pero Popivoda.  Krutikov writes that Stalin was quite fond of Pero, even though the latter was only capable of coming up with the most hare-brained assassination schemes imaginable, none of which ever worked.  This Slovenian guy was no Nahum Eitingon.  Or, as my late father used to say, “If you want a good assassin, then you must hire a Jew.” [that last bit a joke, I hasten to add]

Later, in his memoirs Molotov was to write that Stalin would greet Popivoda with the words:  “Such a young man, and already a general!”  This episode alone shows the decay of the Stalin system of inter-personal terror.

My Secretary Will Disavow All Knowledge Of Your Actions

I found this Serbian wiki about Popivoda.  My Serbian is not as good as it used to be, but I can make out the following, and I apologize in advance for any translation errors:

Pero Popivoda

Pero was born in 1916, in a village near Cetinje.  Prior to WWII he served in the Yugoslav army with an officer’s rank.

When WWII broke out, Popivoda joined the National Liberation Army, rising to a position in the General Staff.

In November 1942 he served in Slovenia, and the wiki lists out the various Slovenian divisions he headed.

In 1944 was promoted to Colonel (Serbian pukovnik, which is the same as the Russian word polkovnik) and transferred into Serbia, where he was put in charge of the 22nd Serbian Division.

After the war ended, Popivoda was dispatched to the Soviet Union, where he spent 2 years studying at the military academy.  While there, he married a Russian girl named Kira Gligorevna, the daughter of a Soviet general.  With her he had a son.

On his return to Yugoslavia, Popivoda was appointed Commander of the Air Force (vazuhoplovstvo) and promoted to the rank of Major-General.

In 1948 with the rift in relations between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, Popivoda took the Soviet side and emigrated to the Soviet Union.  Here is how he escaped:  On August 16 he stole a training plane Polikarpov Po-2 and flew off to Romania.  From there he took another plane (?) and flew to Moscow.  Making sure to return the first plane to the Yugoslav army (?)

Arriving in Moscow, he was greeted like a hero, inducted into the Soviet army, and given the rank of Major-General of Aviation.

The Yugoslavs were not happy with Popivoda’s aerial feats, they regarded him as a deserter and deprived him of his previously earned medals.  The Soviets consoled him by awarding him a new set of medals,

Popivoda died in 1979, in the Soviet Union.

[to be continued]

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Whence the Stalin-Tito Quarrel? – Part IV

“Magis quam prima, quam secunda in me Romae villa.”
(“Poor as this village is, I would rather be first here than second in Rome.”)
(Julius Caesar)



Dear Readers:

Continuing my review of this historical piece by Evgeny Krutikov. Where we left off, we had taken a quick detour to learn some backstory about one of the players in this three-way feud, Enver Hoxha of Albania.  But now we return to Krutikov’s narrative:

1948 Was A Difficult Year

We are back in January of 1948.  Bulgarian Communist leader Georgi Dimitrov (who sometimes went clean-shaven and sometimes wore a big black moustache), had given an interview, in which he supported the idea of creating a “Balkan Federation”.  Into this confederation would go all the newly-Communist Eastern European countries conquered by the Soviet Union at the end of WWII, namely:  Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and even Poland.  Dimitrov generously allocated leadership of this proposed confederation not to his own country, but to Yugoslavia.  A natural choice, since the latter possessed the most powerful army.

Stalin in 1948: Starting to lose the narrative…

Krutikov points out that Dimitrov was no dumb punk:  He was a former head of the Comintern and now the second-ranking Communist leader in the whole world, right after Stalin.  Therefore, his interview aroused fear and loathing in Western capitals.  Leaders in Washington and London regarded the creation of such a bloc as a violation of the Yalta and Potsdam Agreements.

A couple of weeks later, on 19 January 1948, Tito strolled down to his local telegraph office and dispatched the previously-mentioned telegram to Enver Hoxha, requesting to send a Yugoslav division into southern Albania.  Putatively, in order to repel the suspected Anglo-American invasion from Greece northwards.  But, according to Krutikov, there were no doubts in anybody’s head that this was actually a sneaky attempt to annex Albania, on false pretenses.

Brussels in 1948

It is against this background — and here Krutikov seems to be putting more blame on the Communist side than on the Westie side — that, in March of 1948 leaders of Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg [with the except of Britain all countries allied with Nazi Germany during the war, one might add] met in Brussels to sign an agreement creating the Western bloc.  Krutikov:  “This was a direct response to the declarations of Dimitrov and Tito — and the beginning of the creation of NATO.  Stalin flew into a rage:  These military blocks are popping up without even asking Moscow’s opinion — and the USSR still does not have the atom bomb!”

So, Stalin’s beef against Tito was that the latter had attempted to annex Albania without consulting with him first (=Stalin).  And his beef against Dimitrov was that the latter had published his ambitious plans for a Balkan Confederation, again without consulting the Big Boss.

These Balkan Communist leaders were getting too big for their britches, acting like they were international leaders with autonomy!  It would be like Pete Clemenza and Sal Tessio started making deals and waging crime wars without getting the okay from Don Corleone!  This shall not pass.

Tito in 1948: A capo on the run…

But Stalin did not treat both sets of “sins” as equal.  See, the big galoot always had a soft spot for Dimitrov; hence, he showed more mercy to the latter, just considering the Bulgarian’s over-reach as a forgivable “mistake” or “untimely gesture”.

Tito, on the other hand…  It is safe to say that his Croatian ass was grass.  Especially after he received that scary telegram from Stalin’s henchman…

Both South Slavic leaders received the ominous summons to report to the Kremlin.  To report to the Big Boss, to shut the door and take a seat.  Dimitrov took his chances, and went.  Tito declined, citing poor health.  In his heart, Tito knew that if he went to Moscow, he might never return.  Stalin had that kind of (well-deserved) reputation.

But Krutikov firmly takes Stalin’s side in this fuster-cluck:  “Stalin was right about practically everything, and even demonstrated remarkable patience…”   Stalin was worried that the introduction of Yugoslav troops into Albania would spark another war.  With his guests (Dimitrov and two Yugoslav envoys), Stalin shared some secret intel he had regarding the deployment of American troops in Greece.  It was already clear to him that the Greek Communists had lost the civil war, now all that remained was to evacuate the comrades before they were all hung on trees by the victorious fascists.

In summary, this was not a good time to provoke the English and Americans to intervene in the Balkans.  As a compromise solution, Stalin proposed a smaller confederation between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.  The Bulgarian and Yugoslav envoys nodded their agreement and returned home.

Stalin and Molotov: Adepts of the Poison Pen letter

Next began the Ideological War between Stalin and Tito, both sides quoting Marxist scripture and accusing the other of “deviation from the Leninist course”.  The two men exchanged several poison pen letters.  (It’s a good thing they didn’t have email in those days, otherwise the flame war would have been unendurable.)  No compromise seemed possible!

In the end, Stalin delegated Comrade Molotov to deliver the final Coup de grâce to Tito.  Molotov wrote a very nasty Epistle to the Philistine, in which he expertly trolled Tito, summarized all of the latter’s sins and crimes, and then proceeded to pull all the Soviet military advisors and civilian specialists out of Yugoslavia.  The Yugoslavs were shocked by this unfriendly action coming from their older brother the Russians.  Like, they had never expected the feud to go that far.  The South Slavic “Little Brothers” made some overtures back to Moscow, as in, hey dudes, can’t we be friends again?  Moscow:  No way!  I will only accept total capitulation coupled with sincere penance.  Unfortunately, the Yugoslavs were too proud to agree to that.  And hence the rift became permanent, and the Soviet Union lost a major ally in Eastern Europe.  All because two grown men were acting like spoiled babies.

[to be continued]

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