Reede, 15 September 2017 19:00
Laas Leivat - Estonian Life No. 37 2017
The Kremlin's strict rejection of any digression from the official story of the Soviet/Russian past is the country's Soviet authoritarian legacy and makes Russians supremely susceptible and vulnerable to the distorted government version of contemporary reality.
Any attempt at drawing an equivalency between the recent discrediting of John A. Macdonald's pristine reputation as the historically most prominent founding father of Canada's confederation and Russia's intellectually ruthless clampdowns on veering from the sanctioned narrative is a non-starter.
Canada's open debate on the positive/negative discourse has been without any censorship or government interference – albeit political leaders have made their opinion on the pros and cons of a radical revision of the Macdonald legend as commonly known. (This article is not discussing the merits of radically re-evaluating Macdonald's contribution to Canada as a nation.)
Russia, on the other hand, in May 2009 actually established the "Presidential Commission of the Russian Federation to Counter Attempts to Falsify history to the detriment of Russia's Interests" by decree of the president of the time, Dmitry Medvedev. Vladimir Putin was on ''time off'' as prime minister, in accordance with the constitution. The Kremlin rationalized that the commission's goal was to "defend Russia against falsifiers of history and those who would deny the Soviet contribution to the victory in World War II".
We're also reminded that there existed an intention on the part of some to pass a law that will make it illegal to attempt to "rehabilitate Nazism" on the territory of the former Soviet republics. (???) It's evident that Moscow has exerted substantial pressure to prevent their smaller neighbours telling modern history the way they see it.
Why was the commission struck in May of 2009? Because in August the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact would have its 70th anniversary and as a member of the commission commented, "In August there will be such a yelling about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, saying that it was the step that led to the Second World War, and that Germany and the Soviet Union were two equal, disgusting totalitarian monsters".
It's clear that any attempt to besmirch the glory of the triumph is seen as a deliberate attempt to tarnish Russia. It's evident that Russia is haunted by its Soviet inheritance. Thus authorities must have strict control of that narrative which must dominate today.
Absolute taboo are: assertions that the Red Army arrived as a liberator of the Baltic states from the Germans but immediately thereafter remained as a repressive occupying force; any suggestion that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were actually close collaborators from 1939 to 1941; accounts of any Red Army atrocities on the March to Berlin; that Russia is not a European bona fide country, etc.
It's been said that Russian identity is rooted firmly in their VICTORY of the 'Great Patriotic War' and depends absolutely on an officially sanctioned understanding of a single moment in history. As Vladimir Solovyov, a Russian TV celebrity and political pundit said: "[our soldiers] sacrificed for everyone, and they left us with an altogether unique identity, an identity that cannot be shared by the Germans or the Italians or French – no, not a single other nation on earth can share it – the identity of Victors."
This is seen as the most recognizable trait of a puzzling 'Russian-ness'. But to authorities it seems to be the most fragile, vulnerable to revisionism, apathy, Western intellectual onslaught.
Genuine opposition to the official story has been cast by the Kremlin as dishonest. In contrast most prominent Canadian officials expect a fair degree of scrutiny and honesty when evaluating that which has been accepted as truth for generations. And this includes whether the appraisal (of John A Macdonald for instance) is done in good faith or not.
Kremlin officials and acolytes label every single critic of governmentally preferred history as a turncoat and sell-out to the West. The very idea of anyone having real grievances, not to mention inconvenient truths is considered to be unthinkable. This legitimizes blatant dishonesty.
In Canada moral authority does not reside with the Canadian Government, nor a teachers' union, nor the thousands who refuse to accept John A. Macdnald's alleged failings. In Canada, the truth does not make Canadian society vulnerable, even if it's an embarrassing one. It doesn't erode Canada's collective moral authority.Laas Leivat