MOSCOW – The Kremlin campaign against what they describe as falsifying history is in full force with the 70th anniversaries of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the start of World War II this month.
The Kremlin’s chief objective is to justify the signing of the 1939 Soviet-German nonaggression pact and to absolve Stalin’s role in Hitler’s decision to unleash WWII.
This campaign is nothing more than a brazen attempt to rewrite history. All the documents have been made public and specific facts are common knowledge.
Russia’s present-day leaders are unwilling to bear responsibility for the crimes against humanity that followed the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact – massive annihilation and deportations of the populace in occupied Belarus, Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states. Neither do the Russian authorities recognize the interpretation of WWII currently prevails in Eastern and Central Europe – that the Soviet Union’s victory over Hitler only replaced one tyranny with another.
In the past few days, federal television channels aired documentaries pushing the Kremlin line. The theme of their media campaign was to justify the Soviet policies in the run up to World War II and to place the responsibility for unleashing it on Western countries, especially the United States.
What underlies the Kremlin fears? Russian elites perceive criticisms of Stalin and Stalinism as a manifestation of an anti-Russian drive in Western policies and as attempts to besmirch the present-day Russia. The nation’s leadership has failed to resolutely sever ties with the legacy of the communist past. Moreover, they are continuing to defend it, which is bound to affect Russia’s relationship with its former allies and partners that have discarded and overcome this legacy.
The WWI history rewrite has a concrete policy angle too. The economic downturn is in full swing, with the people’s living standards falling. Even according to the official statistics, the past year saw a dramatic surge in the number of Russians living below the poverty line. Under the circumstances, a powerful propaganda campaign actually in Stalin’s defense is a convenient tool to side-track the people’s attention from the existing hardships and to reintroduce national self-assertion into the forefront of public discussion.