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Monday, November 13, 2017

How Russia can protect its history: tomorrow is more important than yesterday


Ukrainian front. The Syrian front. Economic front. All the main fronts of the confrontation between Russia and the West I mentioned? Based on the results of last Thursday meeting of the scientific Council of the security Council of the Russian Federation, we can safely say: no, not all. The front, which is not in the list, it’s easy to miss: it has no clear boundaries, its front line is everywhere and nowhere.

But at the same time, the front is “the mother of all other wars”. We are talking about the battle for the contents of human heads — the battle over the interpretation of history.


photo: Gennady Cherkasov

To combat distortions of history is now the head of the security Council Nikolai Patrushev.

The Commission to counter attempts to falsify history to the detriment of Russia’s interests — when in may 2009 at the initiative of the then head of the Kremlin administration Sergei Naryshkin in our country there was an organization with such a frankly unfortunate name, she immediately became a target for pranksters. Humorous-minded citizens, in particular, was interested in how venerable the Commission will, for example, to respond to is theoretically possible attempts of falsification of history to promote the interests of Russia?

The transition of the baton in the fight for the “right” interpretation of history from the hands of Sergei Naryshkin in the hands of Nikolai Patrushev — this extremely influential politician, if anyone has forgotten, is the head of the security Council is also very easy either to mock or to announce a cause for very serious alarm. Supposedly guard, citizens! Now the main fighter for the purity of Soviet and Russian history officially former long-term Director of the FSB. Every man for himself!

But I believe that the Russian authorities — in the case of Sergei Naryshkin, and in the case of Nikolai Patrushev — correctly identified the problem. Our past is the Creator of our present. Those forces whose interpretation of the events of days long past is accepted as a major, are the winners of not only the battle for history. They are the winners of political battles, the “masters” of modern mass consciousness.

A good example of fresh, “new York times”. Know what many ordinary citizens of Estonia spending their weekend? Voluntary participation in military exercises with the aim of organizing a guerrilla war after the invasion of Russian troops in their country. If you look from Russia, a similar idea seems to be mass madness. Like, can we do nothing but “re-occupy” Estonia! But 25 of 400 voluntary participants in the partisan games — agree, for a country with a population of 1.3 million people is not so little — in this respect fundamentally different view. Based on its “historical memories” about 1940, they seriously believe that the Russian bear is just waiting for the chance to eat them again.

As follows from this information, the battle for sensible, balanced and balanced interpretation of the history in Estonia and Russia just lost — lost is likely hopeless. However, this is not news. And what we the same with Estonia way lose Ukraine, is also not news. Something similar could confidently predict even after the annexation of Crimea to Russia in 2014. The political elite of the country of the victorious Maidan to death offended by Russia, and tripled efforts to create a very very fake version of our shared past.

News, from my point of view, is this. The more violent are disputes about the history in the country, the less obvious is the way that Russia, which we want to build in the future. “For a long time Russia lived that built a new future — explained to me the essence of this phenomenon the political scientist Oleg Solodukhin. First, we built a constitutional monarchy, then the bourgeois Republic, then the Communist tomorrow, then a free Russia. And, by the way, it is due to this capacity “the construction of the new” our country was attractive for its citizens, and for many foreign forces, currents, countries. Today everything is more or less attractive “images of Russia” are only in her past. A country that constantly comes back, has no prospects”.

It said hard, but unfortunately, very accurate. It is understood by all far-sighted people in the Russian government, including, by the way, Mr. Putin himself. Speaking on 22 June this year with participants of all-Russian historical collection, the Russian President said: “We want to be part of modern civilization and, of course, to look to the future. It is impossible, no country, no people should live in the past and bathe in his infinite heroism. It is harmful and dangerous for the future of the nation.”

Of course, surely “look forward” is possible only in case you know very well and respect their past. In the end, it all comes down to finding the right balance, a “Golden mean”. I think that in modern Russia, this balance has not yet been found. Moreover, the moment we get farther away from this desired “Golden mean”. In Soviet times, history was unkind to the glory of the most politicized science. To my insane, this situation is returned.

Society is trying to divide radicals on both sides. In one “corner” we have figures like “Professor and historian” Andrei Zubov. I have once quoted from his interview to radio “Liberty”. But this quote is so striking that I will allow myself to cite it again: “And I’m still in the “Maker” of our Institute told my friends, as they say, it’s a shame that Hitler lost the war Stalin. Because anyway in the end the allies would have released. But then the British and Americans would set our democracy and to be replaced cannibalistic Stalinist regime!”

In another “corner” entrenched by those who wish to return Russia to the Soviet understanding of history — understanding based on strict censorship and a ruthless “deletion of sedition.” In our country once again has become unsafe to speak on some “slippery” historical themes like the Soviet-German nonaggression Pact of 1939. And this situation causes me the greatest anxiety. In my opinion, we can’t protect our history through thoughtless protective and prohibitive measures. We will only paint yourself into a corner and put ourselves in the frankly ridiculous situation.

In the report of the newspaper “Kommersant” about the meeting of the scientific Council of the security Council, including written, “the Experts SAT has identified six major the most important historical events and periods subject to tampering and in need of protection. It is the national policy of the Russian Empire (speculation on the “colonial question”), national policy of the Soviet Union, the Soviet role in the victory over fascism, and the Molotov—Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union and political crises in the GDR, Hungary and Czechoslovakia and other former socialist countries. It was noted approaching in 2017, the centenary of the great Russian revolution of 1917, which, according to the participants, can be a reason for attempts of intentional distortion of this historical period.”

Don’t even know how to comment on all this. Too much piled up in a heap. But the question here is often about phenomena of a different order.

“The Soviet role in the victory over fascism” is the greatest historical achievement of our country in the twentieth century. Professor Teeth can think whatever they want. But if not for the heroism of our people, even now the whole world could be under the yoke of the heirs of Hitler. But, say, the phrase “national policy of the USSR” — as well as many other items from the “Merchant” list — gives me more mixed feelings. Just one example: part of this “national policy” was to transfer to Ukraine of a large number of purely Russian regions and territories in the Stalin era. Not sure what the event is “achievement” that “needs protection”.

Every time when we are discussing complex and controversial moments in our history, we repeatedly come up against one and the same question: what kind of Russia we want to build? Maybe we first need to answer it, and then everything else will become clear?

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