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Back To The Future

A would-be monument to the victims of Stalinism in Chisinau
A would-be monument to the victims of Stalinism in Chisinau
At the beginning of the month the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) adopted a resolution equating Stalinism with Nazism. This is a really significant decision, although it passed here almost unnoticed.

The resolution says that in the 20th-century Europe faced "two major totalitarian regimes, the Nazi and the Stalinist, which brought genocide, violations of human rights and freedoms, war crimes, and crimes against humanity." It also urged making August 23 -- the anniversary of the 1939 signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact -- "a day of remembrance for the victims of Stalinism and Nazism in order to preserve the memory of the victims of mass deportations and executions."

Natalia Morari is blogging for RFE/RL's Moldovan Service
During the Soviet period, more than 40,000 people were deported from what is now Moldova. Their property was seized and many of them were shot. Strangely, people here aren't much interested in history, even in its most terrifying pages. Thousands and thousands -- those are just numbers. It is more important to know what the current exchange rate is or how much apartments in Chisinau are selling for these days or what the country's current trade deficit is.

That's the way people are. If all the national media are distracting the collective mind with stories about the horrific 1990s when wages were paid in rubber boots or about the current hard times when the opposition is "tearing the country apart," then it is natural for people to forget about some 40,000 people deported during the Soviet times.

Modern European countries that endured Nazi and/or Soviet pasts have solved this problem by opening archives, by publicizing information about repressed people, by fostering open public debate even though for a time doing so divides society into opposing camps.

But here this topic is a taboo. We hear a lot about how we banded together and defeated fascism under the red Soviet flag. But no one can speak of how 40,000 people were deported under that same red flag. We can't even bring ourselves to say banal things like, "Until we come to terms with our painful and complicated past, we won't be able to move forward." Although our political elite should think about that a bit.

But forget about history. A lot of people, including our leadership, would argue that it is more important to look at what is happening now. In that case, though, I'd still pay attention to some interesting points in the resolution if I were them.

The OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly has urged all member states to completely eliminate all those structures and models of behavior that are aimed at the glorification of totalitarian systems and urges them to open all their historical and political archives.

And Moldova is acting like none of this applies to us. And that's too bad.