Timothy D. Snyder is a world-renowned scholar of the history of fascism and totalitarianism and an expert on Russian President Vladimir Putin's autocratic and oligarchic regime.
But suffice to say his expertise is not appreciated in Russia—if the Russian state media's response to his recent New York Times op-ed titled "We Should Say It. Russia Is Fascist" is any indication.
Snyder has definitely made waves with the piece and nowhere moreso than in Russia, where Putinist TV host Vladimir Solovyov responded to the piece by branding former Republican President Donald Trump as a "fascist" and his MAGA movement a "cult."
Hey, even broken clocks are right twice a day, even if they are pots calling out kettles.
See Solovyov's angry response below.
Watch talking heads on Russian state TV flip out over @TimothyDSnyder's article, 'We Should Say It. Russia Is Fascist.'
Kremlin propagandists angrily argue that Trump is more of a fascist than Putin and Americans are stupid. Read more in my article.⤵️https://t.co/OtPMk5bl7Y pic.twitter.com/Yuux8uKEJ1
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) May 24, 2022
Snyder's claims in his op-ed are certainly incendiary, but undeniable.
He describes present-day Russia and Putin's ongoing illegal invasion of Ukraine as a sort of doppelganger for the fascist regimes 1930s and 40s Europe during World War II.
"A time traveler from the 1930s would have no difficulty identifying the Putin regime as fascist."
"The symbol Z, the rallies, the propaganda, the war as a cleansing act of violence and the death pits around Ukrainian towns make it all very plain."
Few outside of Russia and its allies would likely disagree—this is of course partly why the invasion of Ukraine struck such a chord around the world.
But Solovyov wasn't having it.
Responding with the usual Putinist nationalism, Solovyov broke from Russian state TV's usual worshipful takes on Trump and took Snyder's words as an opportunity to accuse America of living in a glass house while throwing stones.
"Listen, you bastards."
"You're offering hallmarks of a fascist state."
"...[L]ooking at your listed indications [of fascism].
"How are they any different from the election campaigns of Donald Trump? Down to his slogan, 'Make America Great Again.'"
Solovyov went on to list specific examples of ways Trump and the MAGA cult perfectly fit Snyder's description of Russia
"Donald Trump, Make America Great Again — the cult of one leader."
"Visual symbols as a sign of belonging? What about Donald Trump's red hats?"
"Mass events in support of the leader — do you want me to play a clip of the dancing Trump?"
Solovyov has a point.
The echoes of Trump are all over Snyder's description of Putinist Russia, from the anti-Clinton chants of "Lock her up!" to the dehumanization of immigrants to the whitewashing attempts to ban even discussion of our history of slavery.
But Snyder addressed claims like Solovyov's in his piece with a fairly bracing explanation of what fascists accusing others of fascism actually means.
"Fascists calling other people 'fascists' is fascism taken to its illogical extreme as a cult of unreason."
"It is a final point where hate speech inverts reality and propaganda is pure insistence."
"It is the apogee of will over thought.
"Calling others fascists while being a fascist is the essential Putinist practice."
Your move, Solovyov.
On Twitter, Solovyov's rant made as many waves as Snyder's piece did—including from many Russians and Ukrainians who saw right through the hypocrisy.
Classic Soviet/Russian Whataboutism.
— Dan Shinnan (@DShinnan) May 24, 2022
...and they are talking about themselves at the same time. They even didn't realize it. 🤌😂
— Martin Lipocky 🇸🇰🇺🇦 (@PdrsPuten) May 24, 2022
Couldn't help but notice they're not denying the fascism part....
— Marge Gasnick (@ImNotMyDataPts) May 24, 2022
"Propagandist hack in Dr Evil couture cannot imagine why people see the fascism..." https://t.co/ZCBP4hg8Xo pic.twitter.com/dhda3C5l7Z
— billbindc (@BillBindc) May 24, 2022
But others pointed out Solovyov did, to an extent, have a point.
See, Russian State TV isn't all disinformation. https://t.co/VVTNMyDHH0
— Dale Newton (@TheWrongRight1) May 25, 2022
This is the only #russian #propaganda I've ever seen that's actually been true 🤣🤣🤣#trumpisfascist#cultleader https://t.co/IW3bUW9IjK
— Bitch King of Wangmar 🇺🇲🇺🇦🌻 (@interrobangme_) May 24, 2022
In this hillarious TV clip, Russian media claims that they are "... no more fascist than Donald Trump."
Which is closer to the truth than most other statements. https://t.co/mVHgB9zWaE
— Håvard Lindheim (@havard_lindheim) May 24, 2022
Russian State TV: "If Rissia is fascist then so is Trump, because he is just like us!"
Sane people literally anywhere: "Yes, and?" https://t.co/uY9A17OLzE
— Icarus_Falls_2021 (Homo Interneticus) (@Icarus_Falls25) May 24, 2022
Just barely and now those guardrails are nearly all dismantled.
— Joel Tepliid (@joelteply) May 24, 2022
This reversal on Trump is notable and surprising--Solovyov is an oligarch closely aligned with Putin and well-known in Russia for his love of Trump, and Russian state TV has been a booster of Trump's from the start.
Russia is also said to be counting on Trumpist members of the Republican Party to gain seats in the midterm elections so that Congress will more closely align with Russia's goals in Ukraine.