A college professor who defected from Russia in 1989 mocked the idea of democratic socialism, telling GOP activists it’s comparable to a “democratic Auschwitz,” the Nazi concentration camp where 1.1 million people died.

Yuri Maltsev, an economics professor at Carthage College, was invited to speak at the state GOP convention to drive home the dangers of socialism after his firsthand experience in his native country.

His speech came as some in the Democratic Party have begun to refer to themselves as democratic socialists, including Bernie Sanders, who unsuccessfully sought the party’s nomination for president in 2016 and 2020.

Maltsev accused the Democratic Party of “concocting Russian threats” and told party activists Russia fell because Mikhail Gorbachev “took fear out of the system.” He said Gorbachev started talking about socialism with a human face. He said that was perplexing to him and his friends because socialists “must kill” to maintain their system of government by instilling fear in the citizens.

“There is no such thing as democratic socialist. It’s the same thing as democratic Auschwitz,” Maltsev said, prompting a murmur in the crowd of about 300.

Philip Shulman, a spokesman for the state Dem Party, said “hatred and vile has become the brand of the Republican Party,” pointing to President Trump’s comments about “very fine people” during the 2017 protests in Charlottesville, Va.

“It’s abhorrent that the Wisconsin Republican party supports and advertises this anti-Semitic sentiment, but under Trump it’s par for the course with them,” Shulman said.

Maltsev focused much of his speech decrying the ills of socialism, pointing to the experience of his native country. He warned Republicans they are the only obstacle stopping Marxism and socialism from overtaking freedom in the U.S.

While Maltsev decried what he described as an obsession with Russia by Dems, he told the crowd he’s not a friend of Vladimir Putin. He told the crowd the last article in Russian that he had published was in 2000 as Putin was elected president. The article described the move as the country voting for a “meatgrinder.”

“That’s why I’m not traveling to Russia much because if you don’t like him, especially if he does not like you, your life expectancy drops like a rock,” Maltsev said. “It’s way more deadlier than any COVID-19.”

Maltsev, decrying those he said have been blinded by the ills of socialism, told the audience former Wisconsin Gov. and U.S. Sen. “Fighting” Bob La Follette traveled to Russia in 1938 and returned to say he had seen the future “and it works.”

La Follette died in 1925.

His speech begins at the 1 hour, 24-minute mark here.

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