Unfortunately Medvedev is likely to achieve nothing positive by this move, except to confirm that Russia is regressing toward Soviet and Stalinist practices. While it understandably irritates Moscow that such charges as cited above are made against it, it has nobody to blame but itself. Since the Russian government has resolutely blocked archival research and refused to admit or show any sign of regret for past Soviet crimes (or for its own), it is hardly surprising that others have attacked it. Moscow could learn form the West, where the practice of history is open and where even revisionists have their day in court. However, if Moscow wants to produce history of the type associated with David Irving, it will only isolate itself and its people ever further from the truth and from the modern world. The government is now telling teachers and publishers what to teach and write in history textbooks that offer a sanitized version of Stalin, not to mention of Vladimir Lenin, who was no less a monster. So it can hardly complain when president Yushchenko calls the famine of 1932 to 33 a genocidal one.
If Medvedev wanted to foster genuine debate he would not have criminalized the teaching and writing of history or set up this neo-Stalinist committee, with stalwarts of the worst kind of statist Russian nationalism like Narochintskaya et al. on it. Instead, he would have left the matter to historians like those in the West who have long ago shot out the nonsense that gets published, like Viktor Suvorov’s books. And if such works still get published, the debate goes on.
But since the regime has staked its legitimacy on continuing and glorifying the Soviet empire and all its crimes, it obviously feels that it has no choice but to return to the past. Indeed we might say that in Russia, those who wish to revise the past end up reliving it. As long as such charades continue Moscow will have nobody to blame but itself for such nationalist phenomena, and will always be thought of as a rogue state in Europe. Here it could learn from Germany and from Japan’s failure to acknowledge its crimes. Germany is more or less trusted today and certainly not fearedâ€”not the kind of attitude other states display toward Japan or Russia. Is that the future Medvedev et al. want for Russia?
I have little to add, except to emphasize that the best way to establish the truth is to open the archives, and to let the research process–adversarial, controversial–take its course.
Or are, as S/O suggests, Russians so fragile that they can’t handle the truth, or the disputatious process by which it is established?