Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Medvedev’s Terrifying Order

Who will sit on Medvedev's new commission?
Who will sit on Medvedev's new commission?
By Anton Orekh
An amazing new car was recently unveiled at an auto show in Shanghai. It is called the Gelly, but just one glance makes it obvious that it is a copy of a Rolls Royce. This much is obvious to anyone with eyes and an even rudimentary knowledge of cars. And the Chinese didn’t even bother trying to deny it. They are marketing this piece of plagiarism under the slogan “Reinventing a classic.”

I noticed the word “reinventing,” and thought of it again when I learned about President Dmitry Medvedev’s order on the creation of a “presidential commission against efforts to falsify history to harm the interests of Russia.”

Russia, the saying goes, is a country with an unpredictable past. In fact, it is harder to predict our past than it is to foresee the future. It is a fun-house mirror that it would seem impossible to twist further. Could it be that the new commission will be in charge of straightening out twisted reflections?

Like any similar enterprise, this one also has a false bottom. What history are we talking about? Are we discussing the entire millennia? Will we be protecting Vladimir Monomakh or Ivan the Terrible from falsification? How about Rasputin or the chemist Yevgeny Biron?

Of course not. In fact, they won’t be defending Khrushchev or Brezhnev either. When we talk about the “falsification of history,” we have in mind just a narrow slice of history – the period of Stalin’s rule. The period that holds repressions and war, collectivization and the occupation of the Baltic states, the massacre at Katyn…

And about all these events and about this period in general there have already been more than enough lies. At some point, lies about this time simply replaced history itself.

History became what wasn’t – or, rather, how it wasn’t.

Like A Diseased Tree

The struggle against these genuine falsifications began less than 25 years ago, and this work was never brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Of course, in history it is never possible to place the final period, but one can place the accents in the proper places so that people cannot be confused about fundamental concepts like good and evil and how one is to be distinguished from the other.

A healthy tree cannot sprout from diseased roots. Our roots are our history, and they are rotten.
We live like a diseased tree. After all, a healthy tree cannot sprout from diseased roots. Our roots are our history, and they are rotten. They are rotten not because our history is bad. There is no such thing as bad history, just a poor understanding of history, a poor understanding of history as it actually was. This is the essence of the rot that is poisoning our tree and making it grow all twisted and crooked.

We need to find out how and why we lost millions of people during the war. We don’t even know how many millions we lost.

We need to talk about the “effective manager,” Stalin, who buried millions of his countrymen, occupied the Baltic peoples, and gunned down the Polish officers.

We need to remove the corpse from Red Square, because the heart of our motherland is not the place for the founder of a lawless regime.

Such truths do not blacken our history. In fact, they make it somehow greater because only by properly evaluating the colossal scale of the losses and mistakes of the war can we properly evaluate the greatness of our victory. Then we will understand that the war is not a bunch of popular films or the “reinvention of a classic” in the form of a colorized version of “Seventeen Moments of Spring.”

We will understand the price in blood and the price in inhumane labor that was paid to build the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station and other monuments of industrialization, to cultivate the virgin lands, and to launch our Gagarins into space.

Who Will Sit On The Commission?

But this is not why the Medvedev commission was created. All that remains of Gagarin in our history is his smile. All we know of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station is a curtain of water falling gracefully through the spillways. And all we know about the war is a bunch of white-toothed heroes speaking in 21st-century slang and burying Germans by the dozens. And Stalin is just pacing around his office, muttering some order to Marshall Zhukov in a Caucasian accent with a pipe clenched in his teeth.

I can’t imagine who will sit on this new commission. Who are these geniuses, these people with 100-percent knowledge, these people who carry inside them the final instance of truth? Rather, I can imagine them all too well: “historians” from the Federal Security Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Defense Ministry.

Does this mean that our entire history is the history of the military and the secret services? Does it mean that Monomakh, Ivan the Terrible, the chemist Biron, and the madman Rasputin do not interest them? Maybe it would be more honest to rename it the Commission to Protect the Honor, Virtue, and Good Name of the Generalissimo.

I think the most important thing is the final bit of the official name of the Medvedev commission – the part about “harming the interests of Russia.” There is no such thing as history that harms interests. Only lies can harm interests. The lies that several generations of our people have been raised on -- people who, as a result, have lost any moral touchstones. And these are the lies that are now going to be defended and “reinvented.”

One final conclusion. If there is such a thing as “falsification that harms the interests of Russia,” then it stands to reason there must be “falsification that promotes the interests of Russia.” And that’s what our new commission will be doing.

I say in all seriousness – our president has issued a terrifying order.

Anton Orekh is a journalist with Ekho Moskvy. The views expressed in this commentary, which originally appeared on the website “Yezhednevny zhurnal” are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL.
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Comments page of 2
by: David from: London
May 21, 2009 18:01
To read this article is to realise that there are people living and working in Russia who do know what has gone wrong, and what needs to be done to reclaim the past and to create a path which will enable Russia to be a truly great country. At the moment Russia is a large country, led by inadequate and rather nasty crooks, who have betrayed and are betraying the Russian people. Russia deserves better and one way of getting it is to be honest about what went wrong in the past.

by: MaGioZal from: São Paulo - SP - Brazil
May 21, 2009 22:25
What this commission wants to bury is the fact that Stalin was allied to Hitler from 1939 until 1941 through the Molotovo-Ribbentropp Pact on Non-Agression…

by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
May 22, 2009 12:43
Good article. Can't help but think that those Russians who really love their country will interpret this commission as just another attempt by the elite to hold on to their increasingly questionable hold on legitimacy. Then again, some smart Serbs said the same thing after Milosevic's frightening speech at Kosovo Pole in June 89. Can such attempts to rewrite/interpret history work in the age of the Internet?

by: Hans from: Berlin
May 22, 2009 20:07
Russia is doing it again. <br />And again. <br />And again. <br />And again.<br />

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
May 23, 2009 08:24
The article against the Russia's lie is a lie in itself:<br /><br />1. Russia did all crimes, since 9-th century A.D., not Stalin they pin it on.<br />He was elected as a President of USSR with limitted powers by ethnic Russians and CIS only for time of WW2, by demand of Western Allies that never trusted lying ethnic Russians.<br />Before and after that he was at best a champion of non-Rusian nations to defend them from Russian pogroms, but without real powers - only power of advise and concent, he usually used all too well on mediocre and illiterate Russian leaders, scared of the German machine of war, the Western industrial powers and their own treasonous inferriority;<br /><br />2. Russians lie about this slice of history because:<br /><br />a). Stalin wasn't Russian;<br /><br />b). Because Russian army controlled by former generals and officers of mutneous Siberian divisions of 1941(thought they don't have to worry anymore, not many left and Zhukov already explained to population in his books why Russians played Russia's separate policy before and at the begining of WW2 - but Russia hate us anywhere);<br /><br />c). Because to resurect evil of Russian &quot;Empire&quot;, to pretent to be superior to us through suffering and death and devide the World with Germano-Austrians and British, they have to burry in mud all the good of freedom, dignity and independence and to prize nazi Empire they forge, - they need to mud somebody big who represented such good - Stalin;<br /><br />d). Why they don't go too far on Stalin?<br />They mud him so much by their lies, calling him dictator, that criminal and despotic Russian nature now using the image of &quot;evil man&quot; thay invented to be even more evil than &quot;him&quot; that never existed as &quot;evil Stalin&quot; - it is how Russia always was, one never knows wich of their lies is the chiken and wich is the egg...<br /><br />Konstantin.

by: Oleksander from: Florida , USA
May 23, 2009 14:58
Konstantin ,<br />I agree with most of what you state n your article ,however ,to exonarate Stalin<br />and imply that he was a defender of non-<br />russians during his reign , is a terrible <br />lie . I would venture a guess that you are Georgian and your sense of patriotizm<br />is clouding your judgement, but the plain facts are that Stalin was a beast . Hitler<br />was a choirboy compared to this embodyment<br />of Satan . Ask any Ukrainian or Tatar or<br />even Georgian who had thew misfortune to be under his heel . Ask any of the survivors of the Great famine in Ukraine<br />( Holodomor ), that alone claimed anywhere<br />from seven to ten million lives . Yes ,<br />Russia and russians are absolutely guilty of countless crimes throughout <br />history , but in Stalin they found a willing and capable executioner . There<br />can be no excuses for him as well as for Russia . In order to move on with their<br />history and join the rest of world free society , russians have to come to terms with their past and face and admit to all their past misdeeds . Otherwise they will forever be destined to be on the periphery<br />and be condemned to live on someone else's<br />history , i.e. Kievan Rus'.

by: Alex from: USA
May 24, 2009 01:29
I'm not going to comment on Anton's views, with whom I largely agree. I'd only like to point out at two linguistic issues: 1) not &quot;Baltic peoples&quot;, but Baltic nations is correct, and 2) &quot;Caucasian accent&quot; would be understood as &quot;a white man's accent&quot;, though &quot;Georgian accent&quot; isn't much better, either:-)

by: Janis from: Riga
May 24, 2009 09:01
Stalin &quot;wasn't Russian&quot;? What nonsense! The Russian Empire was Russia and he was a citizen of Russia. According to those who claim that this monster was not Russian (maybe one could also argue that Hitler was not German, but what does that prove?), Hispanics born in Florida or New Mexico are not American. Russians cannot foist Stalin off onto some other &quot;nationality&quot;. Stalin was the worst kind of Russian chauvinist imagineable. He served the interests of only one nation -- Russia (or USSR, as it was called for 70 years). Incidentally, maybe Eisenhower was not American, but German? Or maybe Obama is not American, but Kenyan?

by: Zoltan from: Hungary
May 24, 2009 09:11
I agree with most of you that re-writing or &quot;canonizing&quot; history is a bad initiative.<br /><br />But before we condemn Russia again and tell from a moral superior position that <br />- &quot;russians have to come to terms with their past and face and admit to all their past misdeeds&quot; - we need to check ourselves first.<br /><br />Do you think that only Russia do not admit and face its own black chapters of its history?<br /><br />Then what about the followings? Did the nation in charge excused for its acts?<br />- destruction of Central-American civilizations by the Spanish<br />- deportation of Muslims and Jews from Spain<br />- massacring thousands of lives in the name of god by the Spanish inquisition<br />- extermination of american Indians by USA settlers<br />- extermination of Australian aboriginals by the British<br />- killing indigenous people by French in its colonies (the whole activity of the Foreign Legion is an act of crime...)<br />- massacring Arabic civilians by French radicals in the Algerian war<br /><br />Every nation in Europe has dark chapters in its history not only Russia.<br /><br />The only nation who really faced with its crimes and excused for those was post-war Germany. <br /><br />But the French for example after years of foreign occupation of WWII do not learn anything about freedom of people and self determination. Right after their own deliberation by the British and Americans they started (or continued) to supress request for freedom in Indochina or Algeria.<br />We usually forget that the long and bloody war of Vietnam began as a figth for their freedom against French occupation.<br />Later the French applied almost the same tactics in Algeria as fascist Germans against them before with the silent assistant of the NATO.<br /><br />So before condemning Russia we need to check our own history. <br />And sadly we do not have moral right to condemn history of Russia.

by: Elizabeth from: Astrakhan, Russia
May 24, 2009 13:17
Gentlemen and Ladies from all the Europe and America,<br />Can I state my opinion as the other side, as Russian girl with her own attitude? The rule you are talking about has been developed to protect the truth of our victory in WW2, the role in the victory. This role is necessary because there are some attempts from the governments of Latvia and Estonia to place the truth from foot to head and make the history of their nazi armies nice, though nazi has been considered as evil no doubt. Also Ukraine say something about Holodomor and you all believe it, do you know also that we had awful famine in many other parts of the USSA which are Russia, Kazakhstan now and others, not only in the parts which are Ukraine now 1920th.<br />Dear Sirs, I've didn't read to the end what the journalist wrote because he just wants to be read not taking in attention the facts. <br />So, sirs, why you are such negative to Russia, not only to our government, but also to Russian Federation as a whole and it means to every its citizen. Now is the time of globalization and information, so why you all believe every &quot;duck&quot; and one-side description of somewhat journalist. Do you have your own attitude? Or you can only think by the template? I am wider in my attitude and don't follow the crowd. Without try you would never be able to understand the mysterious Russian sole and moreover Russian woman sole. :)<br />
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