By Paul Goble
On February 21, 1918, faced with a German advance, Lenin proclaimed that “the socialist fatherland is in danger” and that it was the duty of all those loyal to the workers’ state to come to its defense. Now, 98 years later, some Russian historians are suggesting that the history of the 1917 revolution is under threat and must be defended.
In an article in today’s “Kommersant,” Irina Nagornykh and Viktor Khamrayev report that the scientific council of the Russian Security Council have discussed preparations for the centennial of the Russian revolution and the need to oppose efforts to distort the meaning of that and other events in Russia history (kommersant.ru/doc/3131019).
The experts in that body are calling for the establishment of a new government center to conduct that effort, a center which would take up the role of the commission for preventing attempts at the falsification of history that was disbanded in 2012. But both the Russian Historical Society and the Presidential Administration are opposed to that step.
Participants at the experts council said that “the basic threats” to the understanding of Russian historian events were “the information campaigns of foreign governments, the historical illiteracy of young people, and the disappearance of historical scientific-popular books as an independent literary genre.”
They suggested that the most often targeted events in Russian history are “the nationality policy of the Russian Empire (with speculation on ‘the colonial question’), the nationality policy of the USSR, the role of the USSR in the victory over fascism in World War II, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and the USSR and the political crises” in Warsaw Pact countries.
Those taking part in the meeting suggested that they were particularly concerned about what was likely to happen next year, the centenary of the Russian revolution. And because of this threat, they urged that the Kremlin set up a system to monitor Western efforts in this regard and then coordinate the response.
But two important players in this discussion told the “Kommersant” journalists that they saw no need for such an institution. Yury Petrov, head of the Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that historians have the situation under control. As evidence of this, he pointed to their response to recent discussions about the1916 rising in Central Asia.
And a “Kommersant” source in the Presidential Administration said that there was no reason for the government to create such a structure. It would have to get involved if and only if there were a violation of Russian law such as the defense of historical monuments.