08/06/2021, 09.55
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Putin imposes Russian history by law

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Established a new commission for historical interpretation, which includes intelligence officers. Not even in Soviet times were security forces concerned with history. It is intended to sanction any violation of official memory. The opposition of Russian historians: comparison between the various narratives is needed.



Moscow (AsiaNews) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has created in early August a new inter-ministerial commission for the interpretation of history, putting at its head the former Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky (see photo), now a member of the presidential administration. The new commission is tasked with "ensuring the active and systematic approach to the issues of defense of the national interests of the Russian Federation, related to the preservation of historical memory and the development of popular activity in the field of history."

The new "defensive" structure will also have to analyze the activity of foreign entities that may harm the interests and dignity of Russia, and "organize counter-propaganda events." Officials from the Foreign Ministry, the security services, the Interior and the General Prosecutor's Office, the Military Historical Society and other bodies are part of the commission.

Thus, the struggle to impose the official ideology of the regime continues. Already last year the government introduced constitutional amendments, providing for the defense of the "glorious memory" of the Soviet victory over Nazism. Now the interpretation of the State can also sanction those who belittle or denigrate other great chapters or characters of Russian history, from Aleksandr Nevskij to Ivan the Terrible. The new single history textbook, prepared by Medinsky himself, is on its way to schools; such a systematic censorship had not been imposed since Stalin's times.

Medinsky had already distinguished himself as Minister of Culture with the oft-stated principle of "evaluating historical facts and artistic creations in the balance of Russia's national interests". After all, he had participated in the previous "anti-historical falsification" commission, created in 2009 and closed three years later without having to sanction any form of violation of official memory. In the new structure, however, the members of the FSB and of the various services stand out, which makes the whole thing much more ominous: not even in Soviet times the orderly men dealt with history.

The "active" approach indicated in the establishment formula suggests in fact that it will not be limited to checking books and articles: all those working in the field, from professors to journalists, will be urged to show ideological loyalty. If academics are protected from scientific verification, indispensable for publications, it will be the vast amount of advertising on the internet, in the press and on television that will suffer under the new censorship.

Historian Nikita Sokolov, interviewed by Radio Svoboda, commented that "we, historians, have had our heads shaved because there cannot be a single interpretation of history. In the complex and pluralistic society of the European type, to which Russia fortunately also refers, it is necessary to compare the various narratives, which respond to the interests of the most diverse social groups and classes".

From many quarters the maxim of Count Benkendorff, one of the Russian generals of the victory over Napoleon in 1812, is recalled. He became head of the Third Section of the empire, the one that dealt with public order, he had dictated the criteria for teaching the history of the country: "The past of Russia is wonderful, the present is more than splendid, and the future exceeds even the most vivid imagination".

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