In Digest, Russia

Introduction by New Cold War.org, Aug. 27, 2015

The government of Russia has announced a sweeping new policy commemorating the victims of past repressions during the era of the Soviet Union. The ‘State Policy on Commemorating the Memory of Victims of Political Repression’ was signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on August 15 and published on the government’s website on August 18. The announcement by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation is here in English  and is reproduced below.

Image of Joseph Stalin in TASS News by Anatoly Kuzyarin

Image of Joseph Stalin in TASS News by Anatoly Kuzyarin

The policy was developed by order of President Vladimir Putin, the presidential administration and the Human Rights Council. The HRC requested its formulation in a meeting with the president last October.

The Russian news agency TASS publishes a commentary on the policy on August 19 by Lyudmila Alexandrova . The writer cites the government document: “Russia cannot become a full-fledged state ruled by law or occupy a leading position in the world community unless it memorializes the millions of its citizens who perished during the years of political repressions.”

Alexandrova continues:

The document sets out the task of laying down the conditions for free access to archival materials and for educational and informative programmes related to repressions and their inclusion in TV and radio schedules as well as in the curricula of secondary schools.

The document envisions a network of museums and memorial sites, creation of an all-Russia Memory Book and identification of mass burials of those purged in the epoch of political repressions.

In addition to it, results of a competition for the best conception of an all-Russia monument to the victims of repressions will be summed up on October 30 when the nation marks the Day of Memory of Political Repression Victims, which will also be erected at the President’s instruction.

Publication of this concept crowns four years of efforts on the part of the Presidential Council for Human Rights and the Kremlin Administration, Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily quotes Sergei Krivenko, a members of the board of the Memorial International Society.

The entire text of the TASS article is below.

News of this decision by the Russian government is hard to find in English. Two commentaries in The Moscow Times and in Deutsche Welle consist of strident editorial arguments belittling the significance of the Russian government decision. Western media has, typically, self-censored any reporting of the significant decision.

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Russia condemns political repressions officially

New reports by Lyudmila Alexandrova, TASS, Aug. 19, 2015

MOSCOW–Adoption of a state concept of the policy on monumentalizing the memory of victims of political repressions is an extremely important event that signals the start of huge and complicated work, as the number of Russians who treat political repressions tolerantly has been growing of late, experts say.

The Russian government has endorsed the concept of a state policy on memorializing the victims of political repressions.

“Russia cannot become a full-fledged state ruled by law or occupy a leading position in the world community unless it memorializes the millions of its citizens who perished during the years of political repressions,” the document says.

It puts forward the task of laying down the conditions for a free access to archival materials, educational and informative programmes related to repressions and their inclusion in the TV and radio schedules, as well as in the curricula of secondary schools.

The document also envisions a network of museums and memorial sites, creation of an all-Russia Memory Book, and identification of mass burials of those purged in the epoch of political repressions.

In addition to it, results of a competition for the best conception of an all-Russia monument to the victims of repressions will be summed up on October 30 when the nation marks the Day of Memory of Political Repression Victims, which will also be erected at the President’s instruction.

Publication of this concept crowns four years of efforts on the part of the Presidential Council for Human Rights and the Kremlin Administration, Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily quotes Sergei Krivenko, a members of the board of the Memorial International Society.

An inter-departmental commission set up specifically for this purpose had come to face with instances of bitter resistance,” Krivenko said. “There are forces in this country that try to put up monuments to Stalin and don’t want any discussions on the victims of repressions.”

The number of immediate victims of Stalin’s purges that lasted from the end of the 1920’s through to the beginning of the 1950’s runs into millions of people but the exact figure is unknown.

A poll taken by Levada Center in May showed that the percentage of Russians believing the sacrifices the Soviet nation had suffered during the Stalinist epoch were justified by the greatness of the then objectives and results achieved had risen from 25% in 2012 to 45% in 2015.

“Such is the outcome of Stalin’s popularization by separate politicians and in some TV shows,” said Dr. Valery Khomyakov, the Director General of the Center for National Strategy.

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“On the face of it, the number of programmes that would expose the reality of Stalin’s regime has become far fewer compared with the 1990’s or the early 2000’s,” he went on.

Khomyakov supported endorsement of the concept. “I’d like to believe this is the beginning of huge, thorny but important work. It’s important to tell the nation the full scope of truth about events of the 1930’s through the 1950’s and the role that Stalin and his henchmen played then. It’s important because we’re still walking up and down the city streets named after them.”

The government’s concept is a signal that the government has set a task of this kind for itself and what is important now is to ensure that this effort does not melt down into a yet another campaign with a zero effect, he said.

Adoption of the concept is critically important if it is followed by practical steps, agrees Lev Ponomaryov, the executive director of the Movement for the Rights of Man.

“I surely support the proposal to include programmes on victims of political repressions in the TV channel schedules, since television is the prime instrument in shaping up the public opinion,” he told TASS. “Let’s wait and see the concrete actions that will be made in this sphere.”

As for this moment, however, the official position of the federal government and the action of regional and/or local authorities on the issue do not match one another while the attempts on the part of some political forces to whitewash Stalin and even to erect monuments to him do not always meet with a resounding rebuff, Ponomaryov said.

* * *

Endorsing the Government policy concept for the remembrance of victims of political reprisals

By the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, 18 August 2015 07:30

The resolutions on the remembrance of victims of political reprisals are meant to promote the state partnership with civil society, contacts between generations, the succession of cultural experience, and youth patriotism.

Reference

The decree has been submitted by the Ministry of Justice in compliance with the presidential order summarising the meeting of the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation of 14 October 2014 (No Pr-2783, Para 2, of 2 December 2014).

The present decree approves the Government Policy Concept for the Remembrance of Victims of Political Reprisals (hereafter, Concept).

The Concept bases on the premises of the Concept of Long-Term Socio-economic Development of the Russian Federation until 2020, approved by Government Decree No 1662-r of 17 November 2008. The draft Concept complied with the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation to 2020, approved by Presidential Order No 537 of 12 May 2009, the Strategy of State Nationalities Policy of the Russian Federation through 2025, approved by Presidential Order No 1666 of 19 December 2012, and the state programme, Culture and Tourism Development, 2013-2020, approved by Government Decree No 2567-r pf 27 December 2012.

The Concept pursues the following key goals:

– to elaborate and implement an effective state policy for practical patriotism and the remembrance of victims of political reprisals;

– to provide the social conditions necessary for Russia’s innovative development based on the active cooperation of state and civil society institutions;

– to enhance personal intellectual and cultural potential;

– to promote the nation’s moral health, particularly through practical patriotism, in partnership with public organisations and religious communities;

– to guarantee free public access to archival and other materials pertaining to political reprisals;

– to guarantee public access to memorials of victims of political reprisals; and,

– to launch relevant educational programmes.

The implementation of the Concept envisages the establishment of museums, memorial complexes and exhibitions dedicated to the history of political reprisals, the elaboration of relevant educational programmes, learning materials and databases, the publication of books, magazines, and audio and video materials, research on the topic, conferences, seminars, etc.

The Concept is envisaged as being implemented in two stages: 2015-2016 and 2017-2019.

The centenary of the 1917 events and the 80th anniversary of the year 1937 both fall on 2017.

The present resolutions on the remembrance of victims of political reprisals are meant to promote the state partnership with civil society, contacts between generations, the succession of cultural experience, and youth patriotism.

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