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The Daily Vertical: History As Heresy (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

The contempt the Kremlin and its surrogates showed for the memory of the forced deportation of the Crimean Tatars 72 years ago this week is nothing short of stunning.

During Ukrainian singer Jamala's performance of the song 1944 at Eurovision, commentators on Russia's state-run Rossia-1 television station called it "a prayer for those leaving their homes searching for a better life far beyond."

That's a direct quote, by the way. In other words, it was a suggestion that the forceful deportation of 240,000 Crimean Tatars on the Kremlin's orders was somehow an act of free will.

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Meanwhile in Crimea, the Russian occupation authorities pulled out all the stops to prevent Tatars from marking yesterday's anniversary.

There were threats. There were detentions. There were even warnings to schools that the number of absent Tatar children would be noted.

Nevertheless, Crimean Tatars did manage to gather in their traditional capital, Bakhchysaray, for a moment of silence.

The FSB was there videotaping of course. And about half of those attending were rounded up.

But while the contempt and callousness with which the Kremlin is treating this solemn occasion may be stunning -- it is hardly surprising.

It is, after all, in line with the way Vladimir Putin's regime treats all shameful episodes from the Soviet past -- be it the Great Terror, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, or the Ukrainian famine.

It's standard operating procedure for a regime that has staked much of its legitimacy on sanctifying a mythological glorious past -- and which views any effort to sully that past with pesky things like facts, as heresy.

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