Stalin's methods have not gone unnoticed by his successors in the Kremlin. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today copies Stalin's tactic of allowing corruption to flourish by ridding Russia of wealthy oligarchs and seizing their property for the state. He's "abetting corruption" because he knows that "weakens the rule of law, and the weaker the rule of law is, the stronger is the government," says Brent. Business executives who enriched themselves through their crony capitalist ties in recent years are being demolished by the "very Stalinist tactic" in which Putin informs his subordinates, "Now, I'm not telling you "No man, no problem' but somehow, you know that's what I need and so you do the dirty work for me, and somehow I reward you for it," Brent says. "Nobody sees it, nobody knows it, but you understand it, I understand it." One entrepreneurial capitalist toppled was Mikhail Khodorkovsky---formerly Russia's richest man because of his holdings in oil company Yukos. He was arrested in 2003 on fraud charges and sentenced to eight years' in prison. With him out of the way, the Russian government could auction off the Yukos production unit Yuganskneftegas. And like Stalin before him, Putin attempts to suppress any publication that is critical of the government. Brent recalled that Putin came down "very hard" on a professor who wrote that the Soviet army had occupied Lithuania for six months prior to the outbreak of World War II when the Moscow line was that the army had liberated it. "In fact, there is a new law"by the (Dmitry) Medvedev government concerning the falsification of history," Brent noted, "so if you produce such a book arguing that the Soviet army had occupied Lithuania"you would be sued in a court of law today in Russia." Putin's use of Stalinist tactics fits in with the resurgence of Bolshevik nationalism Brent says that is "a very, very powerful force in the minds of people in Russia today, so that the rehabilitation of Stalin that you're seeing on the street corners of Moscow and all of the provincial cities in Russia is connected to their deep seated and utterly unsatisfied need to see the realization of those dreams." If only for this reason, understanding Stalin's mind is essential to understanding much of what occurs in Russia today.
Brent was interviewed by Lawrence Velvel, dean and cofounder of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, a law school purposefully dedicated to providing a quality, affordable legal education to students from minority, immigrant, and low-income backgrounds who would otherwise be unable to afford a legal education. Sherwood Ross is a media consultant to the law school. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org .