ISSUE 2-2020
Roman Temnikov
Петр Вагнер Аляксандр Милинкевич Pavel Havlicek
Томаш Якл Владимир Воронов
Петр Мареш
Ярослав Шимов

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles and/or discussions are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views or positions of the publisher.

Dear readers,
The article we have devoted to the recent constitutional changes in Russia, just like the one commenting on the situation preceding the presidential election in Belarus, reflects a further tightening of the screws in both authoritarian regimes. The main target of repression is civil society which both Putin's and Lukashenko's regimes see as the chief enemy of their rule.
In this situation there arise two fundamental questions. Does civil society bear its share of blame for what is happening in their respective countries? What means and forms of resistance should it choose? The answers would lead to several separate dissertation theses but they can also be succinctly summarized using the opinion of various philosophers who in their time reflected on the condition of their societies which too faced similar limit situations.
The question of accountability, or even that of society's responsibility for the crimes committed by the Nazi regime was posed by German philosopher Karl Jaspers after the Second World War. Jaspers regarded citizens' passivity as a significant aspect of society's responsibility for what happened in (and to) Germany.      
„Passivity knows itself morally guilty of every failure, every neglect to act whenever possible, to shield the imperiled, to relieve wrong, to countervail. Impotent submission always left a margin of activity which, though not without risk, could still be cautiously effective.“[1]
In Czechoslovakia in January 1977, there appeared a fundamental document called Charter 77, which alarmed the communist leadership of the country and became a major trigger for opposition activities. The birth of Charter 77 also posed the question of whether it would bring about increased repression in the country. The Czech philosopher, Jan Patocka, formulated a clear answer:
"… no submission has yet led to an improvement, but only to a worsening of the situation. The greater the fear and servility, the more the powerful have dared, dare and will dare. There is no other way to reduce their pressure but keep trying to throw them off balance by making them see that injustice and discrimination are not forgotten, will not lead to oblivion. This does not mean we should resort to helpless threats, but demand dignified, fearless, truthful behaviour in all circumstances, which makes an impression merely by contrasting with the official position."[2]
Perhaps it is in these contemplations that we should find inspiration in the search for ways to resist increasing repression.
The constitutional changes, which are primarily designed to cover up for the possibility of Putin's lifelong mandate contain passages related to Russian history which has become an important part of the legitimization of the current regime. It is to the interpretation of the Second World War that a special article published in The National Interest magazine has been devoted. The new issue of allows us to see this material, which was signed by the Russian president, through the eyes of an expert living in Central Europe, which Putin's article directly concerns.
In connection with the reviewed article there arises the question as to whether it was necessary to write so many pages of poor quality for Putin to be able to invite world leaders to Yalta II. This effort is as dubious as are Kremlin's recent vigorous attempts to rewrite history. 
The subject is also dealt with by another historian whose material focuses on the liberation of Prague. In connection with the removal of the statue of Marshal Ivan Konev which led to a diplomatic rift between Moscow and Prague the argument was that Konev's troops saved Prague from destruction. The study, based mainly on archival materials, clearly documents the role of the Red Army in the liberation of the city and refutes the arguments put forward by historians from the ranks of Russian politicians. Konev's army undoubtedly played a significant role in the liberation of Czechoslovakia but in Prague, as the Marshal's memoirs testify, it no longer had much work to do.
While the article in The National Interest calls for history to be left to historians, there are many reasons to believe that history, or rather its interpretation, will continue to be an integral part of Russian domestic and foreign policy. As a result, we are bound to see further efforts to revise modern history in ways that suit the needs of the Putin regime. Needless to say, historical topics will not slip from the realm of our interest very soon either.

Wishing you a nice and safe holiday

                                                                                                      Your editorial board


[1] JASPERS, KARL, and E. B. ASHTON. The Question of German Guilt. Fordham University Press, 1965. JSTOR, pp. 63-64.

[2] PATOČKA, Jan. Co můžeme očekávat od Charty 77?

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