In this 2012 post, I explained why May 1 is a better date for Victims of Communism Day than the available alternatives, such as November 7 (the anniversary of the Bolshevik coup that led to the establishment of the first communist state) and August 23 (the anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet Pact). However, as I emphasized in last year’s May Day post, I am more than willing to adopt a different date if it turns out to be easier to build a consensus around it than around May 1.
This year’s Victims of Communism post gains added relevance due to recent events in Russia and Ukraine. The ideology of Vladimir Putin’s regime is authoritarian nationalism, not communism, and its misdeeds are orders of magnitude smaller than those of the Soviet Union. The threat it poses to the West is likewise far smaller than that of its predecessor. Nevertheless, it is significant that Russia’s current ruler is a former KGB colonel, and a longtime apologist for communism who has called the fall of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the twentieth century. If a former Gestapo or SS colonel became chancellor of Germany and began repressing opposition media, persecuting gays and lesbians, annexing territories that Germany lost in World War II, and calling the fall of the Third Reich the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century, there would be a great outcry even if the ex-Gestapo chancellor did not engage in mass murder and repression on the scale of the Nazis and was generally more cautious and less aggressive than Hitler.
Be that as it may, there are many good reasons to increase awareness of the crimes of communism, most of which go far beyond current events. Victims of Communism Day could help achieve that goal.
UPDATE: In this 2012 post, I addressed the objection that May Day should not be used for Victims of Communism Day because it would be wrong to take it away from trade unionists and non-communist socialists.