Russian state TV host says gulags were nicer than Nazi concentration camps


A leading Kremlin propagandist claimed that Soviet gulags were better than Nazi concentration camps on Russian state television.

Julia Davis, columnist for The Daily Beast and creator of the Russian Media Monitor, shared the clip on Twitter on Saturday, where it has since amassed more than 250,000 views.

Concurrently, Davis wrote that “the last propaganda mission seems to be ‘Everything is better in Russia.’

“Propagandists take turns giving examples. Without the slightest irony, host Vladimir Solovyov explained why Soviet gulags were better than German concentration camps.”

Soloviev is a Russian television presenter whose pro-Kremlin views have earned him the nickname “Voice of Putin”.

“In the Soviet labor camps, they knew your name and what law you were imprisoned under,” Solovyov said in the clip, according to Davis’s translation.

“You were an individual. In the German concentration camps you had no individuality.”

He went on to say that “the goal of the Soviet camp was to re-educate”, while the German concentration camps “were aimed at destroying you as a person and then breaking you into parts”.

Soloviev said the Ukrainians were “following the same path”.

“Now the descendants of the Nazi idea in Europe talk about us as orcs, talk about us as citizens of Russia, who all have to take responsibility,” he said.

“They walk the same path, they don’t see us as individuals. They don’t see us as people. Dehumanization. Denial of our right to be ourselves.”

This, he said, was the “main difference between us and them”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with TV presenter Vladimir Soloviev during an award ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow December 25, 2013.
Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

“Ukraine which is sick of Nazism does not consider us a people. For them we are orcs, rashists, but we still feel sorry for them,” he said. “We still count them as our own, but lost with their heads screwed together. We hate the sin, but not the sinner. That’s why we’ll win because we see the people. We fight for their souls.” Solovyov could not immediately be reached for further comment.

The Gulag – the notorious Soviet system of forced labor camps – was created under Vladimir Lenin but reached its peak during the reign of Joseph Stalin in the 1930s and 1940s.

Historians estimate that as many as 18 million people were incarcerated and at least 1.5 million died.

Conditions were brutal, many inmates worked to death while many others were executed.

BBC broadcaster John Simpson responded to the clip by saying Solovyov is “getting crazier by the day”.

“Poor old Vladimir Solovyov is getting crazier and crazier on Russian TV,” Simpson wrote in a tweet. “To argue that the ghastly Soviet-era gulags were somehow morally better than the Nazi concentration camps is probably an argument best avoided.”

Journalist Claire Berlinski wrote, “He’s such a pure Solovyov that looking at him is like drinking Everclear.”

Last month, Soloviev said Russia was waging a war against NATO as a whole and that Russia had “liberated more than 20% of Ukrainian territory” and “about 10 million Ukrainian citizens from Nazi authorities”.

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