(The Philippine Star) - September 28, 2019 - 12:00am

I have to bring to your attention a significant inaccuracy that I recently came upon when I was reading the story titled “We should demand from the EU to stop Joma” by Mr. Bobit Avila, published in the issue of the Philippine STAR, dated Sept. 12. The story itself does not even deal with Russia, but the author managed to make enough historical mistakes to fail a history test.

The passage I am referring to reads “The people in our Judiciary believe in the dictum promoted by Russian Dictator Josef Stalin, who said “The death o f one man is a tragedy, but the death o f millions of people is a statistic!”

Let us start with the fact that Josef Stalin was not a Russian dictator because Russia did not exist as an autonomous entity when he came to power. It was one of many equal constituents of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This is why Mr. Stalin should be referred to as “Soviet”, not “Russian”.

From the ethnic side of things Mr. Stalin was not Russian either. He was Georgian. Georgia is a country in the south of the Caucasus Mountains (not to be confused with the American state of Georgia). Although Georgia was once a part of the Russian Empire but Georgians never considered themselves Russian.

The fact is that Stalin had never said the phrase in question. It is one of the many myths created by western propaganda during the Cold War in order to make the Soviet Union look more scary and ruthless. It was the British press that gave Stalin credit for this phrase in 1958. The actual author of this sentence is the German writer Erich Maria Remarque. For the first time it appeared in his famous novel “The Black Obelisk” and originally sounded like “But it is so because one single death is death, while two million deaths are just a statistic” or “Aber das ist wohl so, weil ein einzelner immer der Tod ist – und zwei Millionen immer nur eine Statistik” in German.

By the way, the author should probably be more careful with the terms he uses. Joseph Stalin was indeed an authoritarian ruler and certainly a controversial figure but up to this very day various historians from different countries cannot agree on his role in history and therefore don’t immediately brand him a dictator. Unlike most universally acknowledged dictators Joseph Stalin has never dissolved the Soviet parliament or introduced martial law in any part of the country although sometimes the circumstances did call for that. He did on many occasions violate the principles of legality and the rule of law. At the same time, he introduced free healthcare and education (including postgraduate) in the USSR, which even now remains an unattainable goal for most countries. His reforms inspired significant social and economic changes in Europe. And not to mention that he played the key role in liberating Europe from Nazism and, therefore in dismantling the colonial system. Due to his many achievements, there was a so-called cult of Stalin’s personality in the USSR, which was officially dispelled in 1956.

I sincerely hope that the next time he decides to write another article he will be more considerate and more thorough in carrying his research and finally get rid of outdated cliches suggesting that if you hear something bad about Russia it must be true. For my part, I can promise that the Embassy of Russia will gladly assist any journalist who would like to find reliable information about our country.

Please bear in mind that the Russian Diplomatic Mission in Manila is committed to partnership with your respectful newspaper and always willing to assist in any matters related to objective and truthful coverage of developments in and around Russia. – Natalia Linovitskaya, Press Attache, Embassy of the Russian Federation

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