Friday, May 7, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Non-Russians Falsifying World War II to Block Integration of Post-Soviet Space, Moscow Writer Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, May 7 – The “separatists” who came to power in the non-Russian republics in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union had no choice but to falsify the history of World War II, an event that unified rather than divided people, if they were to have any hope of keeping themselves in power, according to a Moscow writer.
In an article posted online yesterday, Igor Shishkin, the deputy director of the Moscow Institute of CIS Countries, argues that the falsification of the history of the war in that way has been especially great in Estonia, Latvia Lithuania, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova (
Shishkin’s argument is part of a broader Moscow campaign not only against any treatment of the war different than what is now the official Russian version but also and perhaps especially important for securing support in Western countries for that version as opposed to the ones offered by these non-Russian countries.
The Moscow writer bases his analysis on the 2009 study prepared under the direction of A.A. Danilov and A.V. Filipova on “The Treatment of the General History of Russia and the Peoples of the Post-Soviet Countries in the School Textbooks of the New Independent States” that attracted so much attention a year ago.
That 389-page book translated and analyzed portions of 187 texts and academic guides in the former Soviet republics and Baltic states, with the exception of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. In all cases, “except Belarus and partially Armenia,” Shishkin says, their national histories are discussed in terms of “Russian occupation” and the struggle of “the titular nationality” against it.
Nowhere is that pattern clearer, the Moscow writer continues, than in the treatment of World War II, and if that treatment continues without challenge, Shishkin says, there will “inevitably be formed around the borders of Russia a belt of hostile states,” something that he says is “a direct threat to the security” of Russia and “all peoples of the post-Soviet space.”
“If one avoids political correctness and calls things by their own names,” Shishkin says, “then one must recognize that in Ukraine and in the Baltic states as a result of the collapse of the USSR separatists came to power.” Such “separatists” did not destroy the Soviet Union, he continues, but they informed the governments of those states.
“The chief problem for [the separatists],” the Moscow CIS Institute leader continues, “has been how to preserve the unexpected gift that fate gave them and how to avoid being swept away as in a nightmare under the impact of integrative and centripetal forces when the crisis in Russia will pass.”
To preserve their “’independence’,” he writes, it was “vitally necessary” for such people “not only to find a strong master” like NATO that could defend them “but also to create inside the new states a mass basis of separatism and powerful forces to counter any attempts at integration,” to raise up a new generation ready to defend independence” from Russia.
“Under these conditions,” Shishkin says, “it was inevitable that “the separatists” would turn to “’historical politics’” and make use of “the myth about Russian occupiers, the centuries’ long national liberation war, and what would be ideal of course genocide” of their nations by the Russian and Soviet occupiers.
In such narratives, he continues, the victory of the Soviet Union “in the most terrible and bloody war in history” represented “one of the main obstacles on the path of the ideologues of separatism” because that struggle and that victory “did not divide people [but rather] unified them.”
There was “only one way out,” he says, “the introduction into social consciousness, above all of the rising generation of a principally new view on the war,” one that defined that conflict as a “struggle of two totalitarian empires” in which the occupied peoples had fought against both for their own ends. In short, the war became “alien and for alien interests.”
Any “” represented only “the victory of one set of occupiers over another,” and “the main conclusion of the new version of history was one and the same: the colossal number of victims” was “the result of the absence of independent statehood and the colonial rule of the Russian imperialists.”
But of course, Shishkin adds, “this was not enough.” The “separatists” needed not only enemies and victims but also “heroes.” “Where could they be found?” Those who resisted the Soviets collaborated with the Nazis who were also the enemies of the Western allies. Consequently, there arose “the inevitable myth about ‘a third force.’”
That vision led to the appearance in the new textbooks of “heroes,” Shishkin goes on, who fought “Russian occupiers” even in SS uniforms “in order to defeat “the Soviet totalitarian empire and then turn the arms against Nazism shoulder to should with the countries of the Free World.
“As we see,” he argues, “the falsification of the history of the Great Patriotic War in the textbooks of the Near Abroad was not childhood illness of the growth of the new educational systems and not some sort of mistake and evil will but the logical consequence of the collapse of the USSR.”
In short, Shishkin suggests, all this was “the logical consequence of the coming to power of separatists and consequently of the process of national state construction directed at the building not of independent states but of state independent from Russia.” But this, he says, provides “the key to answering the question of how to oppose the falsification of history.”
By overcoming their own “crisis” in the “spiritual sphere,” Shishkin says, Russians can combat what he describes as these distortions and become “a powerful gravitational field” which will generate powerful centripetal tendencies” in the post-Soviet state and “inevitably eliminate the causes of the falsification of history” which try to make “an enemy out of a strategic ally.”

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