Policy Memos

Protecting 'Our' History: Politics, Memory, and the Russian State

Policy Memo:


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On May 14, 2009, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev signed Decree No. 549, “On the Commission under the President of the Russian Federation for Countering Attempts to Falsify History to the Detriment of Russia’s Interests.” Though disturbing, the emergence of this document was hardly surprising and reflected a growing trend in Russian politics. In this memo, I explore the logic and political significance of this “struggle for historical truth.” I demonstrate that it is impossible to argue against the conservative nationalist position by offering “more accurate” interpretations of the past. What is instead required is a thorough reflection on the role played by history in current political life and on the role of politics in establishing a consensual reading of the past. [...]

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About the author

Professor, EU–Russia Studies
University of Tartu, Estonia