The Moscow Times reports that, since the Russian economy is doing so well, “president” Dima Medvedev has plenty of time on his hands to mess around with academic projects, like this one for instance (look for our editorial and Yulia Latynina’s op-ed on the same topic in Monday’s issue):
President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the creation of a new commission tasked with countering attempts to rewrite history to the detriment of Russia’s interests, the Kremlin said Tuesday. The presidential decree establishing the commission follows a May 8 video address posted on Medvedev’s web site in which the president complained that attempts to falsify history were becoming “increasingly harsh, depraved and aggressive.”
The initiative appears to be part of a Kremlin drive to defend its vision of the country’s 20th-century history.
The Kremlin has bristled at Ukraine’s efforts to get the Stalin-era Holodomor famine to be declared as genocide and the Baltic states’ anti-Soviet positions on World War II.
At the same time, Russian historians have repeatedly accused the Kremlin of trying to whitewash Soviet history in school textbooks and elsewhere.
Medvedev’s chief of staff, Sergei Naryshkin, is to head the 28-member commission, which is charged with collecting and analyzing information about attempts to diminish Russia’s prestige by falsifying history, according to the decree signed by Medvedev last week and published Tuesday.
The commission, which is to meet at least twice annually, is also to coordinate the government’s efforts to combat such falsifications, the decree says.
In his May 8 video address on the eve of the Victory Day holiday celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, Medvedev said Russians find themselves “in a situation in which we have to defend the historical truth and once again prove facts that not so long ago seemed most clear.”
“It is difficult, and sometimes even creepy. But it is necessary to do,” he said.
Members of the new commission include senior officials — primarily deputy ministers and security service officials — historians, Kremlin spin doctors and State Duma deputies.
Aleksei Makarkin, a political analyst with the Center for Political Technologies, welcomed the initiative, saying it could help the state formulate a coherent policy toward Soviet history and lead to the opening of archives for researchers.
Should Russia’s historical archives — many of which are maintained by the military and the secret services — remain closed, the entire campaign would degenerate into a “defense of the historical myth about Russia in the interests of the country’s rulers,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, an analyst with the Mercator think tank.
The creation of the new commission comes on the heels of a bill submitted to the Duma by a group of deputies from the ruling United Russia party that would criminalize attempts to rehabilitate Nazism in former Soviet republics.
Under the bill, which is likely to sail easily through both houses of the parliament, Russian and foreign citizens could be sent to prison for up to three years for accusing the Red Army of atrocities or illegal occupation during World War II, an allegation commonly lodged in the Baltic countries.
If such accusations are made by an official or disseminated in the media, the crime would be punishable by up to five years in prison, according to the legislation.
The bill, spearheaded by Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, also calls for severing ties with countries that officially revise the history of World War II and barring the leaders of such countries from entering Russia.