Russian media decry commission against historic 'falsifications'

21st May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The media criticized the makeup of the commission, saying that the members included too few historians and too many pro-Kremlin lawmakers and spin-doctors, as well as officials from the armed forces and the FSB security services.

Moscow -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's order to form a commission to defend Russia from historical "falsifications" was a throwback to Soviet times when dissent was not tolerated, Russian media said Wednesday.

The media criticized the makeup of the commission, with Vedomosti business daily saying it would force discussion to be politicised.

Chaired by Medvedev's chief of staff, Sergei Naryshkin, the 28-member commission includes pro-Kremlin lawmakers and spin-doctors as well as officials from the armed forces and the FSB security services.

"There are only three historians there, and even they are not recognized among professionals," prominent historian Roy Medvedev told Kommersant daily.

"I am afraid that the commission will be used for witch-hunts and the settling of scores," military historian Aleksei Isayev added in comments to the paper.

Russian media said the move effectively sought to place the country's Soviet past beyond criticism.

"If we are going back to those years then hopes for Medvedev the liberal, in whose name the commission is being established, are somewhat unjustified," Alexei Malashenko, an analyst with the Moscow Carnegie Centre, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Russia views its role in the war as heroic and beyond reproach, given the immense human cost sustained by Soviet forces in pushing back Nazi Germany.

In recent years, the celebration of anti-Soviet wartime resistance movements in Ukraine and the Baltic States has angered the Kremlin, which argues that the resistance fighters collaborated with fascist Germany.

Earlier this month, Medvedev criticized "malicious and aggressive" efforts to cast doubt on the "heroic deed" of the Russian people during the war.

The government has also brought forward a controversial bill that would make it a crime punishable by up to three years in prison to "rehabilitate Nazism" by denying the Soviet Union's role in the World War II victory over Germany.

Vedomosti cautioned, however, that the strengthening of the "victory cult" surrounding the Soviet defeat of Adolf Hitler's forces might be dangerous.

"Plenty of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes of the past have been built on similar 'social religions'," it said.


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