Michael Averko: Cherry Picking The Soviet Past And Russian Present

Roundup: Talking About History

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic.

The July 12, 2012 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) photo gallery of some past Olympians emphasizes an exclusive non-Russian categorizing of selected Soviet athletes – something noteworthy, given the high degree of Russian athletic participation and success in Soviet era sports. The RFE/RL photo gallery serves as evidence that the Soviet legacy was not just about Russia and Russians.

In this exhibit, Russian Sergei Belov is referred to as a “Soviet basketball great” and “Moscow resident”, unlike the other featured Soviet athletes, who are identified by the origin of their given non-Russian republic. Along with “Soviet”, the category of “Moscow resident” is not necessarily synonymous with a Russian identity. (For quite sometime, Moscow has had a considerable multiethnic dynamic.) Nevertheless, Soviet and derivatives of Moscow (like “Moskal”) have been periodically used by some anti-Russian leaning elements as interchangeable equivalents for describing Russians in general.

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