Oleg Kozlovsky’s English Weblog

Politics, Democracy and Human Rights in Russia

Medvedev Imposes Control over Russian History

with 6 comments

From The Huffington Post.
May 20, 2009.

He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.
George Orwell

Russia now has its own little Ministry of Truth. Dmitry Medvedev issued the decree to create a new body with a long but meaningful name: the Presidential Commission for Prevention of Falsification of History to the Prejudice of Russia’s Interests. This Commission will monitor “attempts to falsify historical facts and events” that may undermine “the international prestige of the Russian Federation” and coordinate efforts of government institutions of “adequate response to… and neutralization” of such attempts.

26 of 29 members of the Commission are either public servants or represent state bodies (or both), including FSB and SVR (External Intelligence Service). Head of Medvedev’s Administration will be the Chairman of the Commission. Only two professional historians are going to participate, both representing the semi-governmental Russian Academy of Science.

Although the Commission has no legal authority, there is no doubt that it may be very powerful thanks to its high status. Powerful–and useful for dealing with unwanted ideas. Since “falsification of history” is a very vague definition, their field of work is only limited by their own fantasy. Two topics are almost sure to be the first on the Commission’s agenda: Holodomor (famine in Ukraine and some other parts of the USSR, allegedly planned and organized by Stalin) and the occupation of Baltic states by the USSR. But soon, more subjects are probably to come. Russia’s newest history textbooks call Stalin an “efficient manager” and his mass political repressions “side effects of modernization”. KGB is rehabilitated and its proud successor FSB is the most powerful state agency. Any attempt to argue against these axioms will undoubtfully be considered a “falsifiaction of history” and equated with a thoughtcrime.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

May 19, 2009 at 21:57

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

6 Responses

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  1. Medvedev was indeed very vague with his description of “increasingly more aggressive falsifications of history”. Can someone in Russia actually ask him directly who was meant? And why the law has to state “to the detriment of the prestige of the Russia federation” — rather than referring to historical truth? Does this imply that, if faced with a choice between the “prestige of the Russian federation” and the truth, one should lie? Why is “prestige” more important than “truth”?…

    I am sure a person like Medvedev is perfectly conscious of the effect of such a law, especially in this formulation, in the international media. The formulation must be for internal consumption, to placate the “anger” of Russians at the “falsification” of history (again one sees in this anger the old confusion between Russian and Soviet…).

    I wonder if other countries will react to that. Or will they simply ignore this as a “Russia-internal affair”? Will Obama do that? Will Steinmeier?


    May 20, 2009 at 07:13

  2. So much for the idea that Medvedev might be some kind of “liberal”!

    And it seems that is only the beginning of his attack on civil society, as his party United Russia is now accusing Other Russia and Oborona of financial corruption:


    They’ve named Nemtsov and Kasyanov, two former high-ranking government officials, as corrupt.

    Oleg, what response is Oborona planning to make to this new attack?

    La Russophobe

    May 22, 2009 at 17:07

  3. Asehpe, exactly so. According to this doctrine, you MAY (and perhaps even should) falsify history if it’s good for the “national interests” (which is also a very vague term). But if your opinion on a historical event differs from that of the government, you’ll be accused of a falsification.

    LR, I’ve written on my Russian blog today that this “report” is absolutely pathetic. It is all based either on untrustworthy sources or on anonymous “statements”. It has no direct quotes from recognizable people or concrete, verifiable facts. The whole text looks more like a boring essay written by a student rather than a result of a serious investigation.

    Oleg Kozlovsky

    May 22, 2009 at 20:25

  4. Oleg, what kind of consequences do you expect from this report? Is it just more “ranting and raving”, or should one expect actual prosecution of the “corrupt” organizations that the report discussed?


    May 29, 2009 at 15:42

  5. Asehpe, this report contains no specific information, so it’s useless in sense of criminal prosecution. It looks more like a propaganda action, whose aim is to associate corruption with the opposition and therefore to defend the government itself from similar accusations.

    But it’s possible that they will also use other methods in this campaign, including one or two showcases against opposition figures.

    Oleg Kozlovsky

    May 29, 2009 at 22:35

  6. Oleg, it seems the Kremlin is taking the idea of totalitarian control even further:


    We would love to hear your thoughts about this, and if you have any, your personal experiences.

    La Russophobe

    June 4, 2009 at 02:36

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