In March 2016 the Russian magazine Global Affairs published an article “Foreign Policy: Historical Background” authorized by Russian foreign affairs minister Sergey Lavrov. It seems the yet another historiographer emerged among top Russian leaders, where President Vladimir Putin or Minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky have been starring till recently .
Lavrov’s effort as well as the efforts of his colleagues, who tease history with pleasure, might be viewed as nothing but a hobby of few eccentrics, if they would not use their misinterpretation of history as reasoning for their current actions with all seriousness. However, the article mentioned above is not really original, it merely summarizes various interpretations as well as misinterpretations of key points of Russian history as they are presented by Russian politicians and pro-governmental historiographers.
This issue of our journal contains three materials devoted to the history of Russia. The article by Jamil Hasanli deals with the intervention of Soviet troops in Baku on 19-20 January 1990. Henadz Sahanovitch describes the process of a brutal russification of Belarusian history after WWII. In the review Petr Vágner introduces a book by Eldar Ismailov focused on period of the Great terror in Azerbaijan.
Reading these three materials, one can recall Lavrov’s article since they establish coincidental but interesting context for Minister’s or his aides’ trip through history. The article by Sahanovitch can evoke parallels between distortion of Belarusian history in Soviet times and current interpretation of the Kievan Rus history presented by Russian high-ranking politicians in “kidnapped history” style.
Reviewed book that is focused on Great terror can in interesting manner address Minister’s words stating that “undoubtedly, the Russian Revolution was a major event which impacted world history in many controversial ways. It has become regarded as a kind of experiment in implementing socialist ideas, which were then widely spread across Europe.” No doubts that we can expect very interesting interpretations of the October revolution in the upcoming year.
Let’s leave it to your judgement whether the Lavrov’s remark that “there is no substance behind the popular belief that the Soviet Union’s dissolution signified Western victory in the Cold War. It was the result of our people’s will for change plus an unlucky chain of events,” mirrors the reality of Black January 1990 in Baku, as described in the article by Jamil Hasanli, or not.
Referring to such a “reliable” source as the President Putin statements, Lavrov claims: “If you take an unbiased look at the smaller European countries, which previously were part of the Warsaw Treaty, and are now members of the EU or NATO, it is clear that the issue was not about going from subjugation to freedom…, but rather a change of leadership. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about it not long ago. The representatives of these countries concede behind closed doors that they can’t take any significant decision without the green light from Washington or Brussels.“
Let alone the fact that it is not too nice from Russian Minister to reveal what was said behind closed door, it is not the first time when he used such a maneuver. It is rather interesting, in this context, that this issues opening interview with Arseny Savitsky does not provide much evidence of Moscow’s extraordinary attention to opinion of partners rather of the opposite.
Moreover, it would be of high interest to know which of “the smaller European countries” representatives would trade green light coming from Washington for one coming from Moscow. Maybe some of them, corrupted in one way or another by Moscow, might, but it would be also the end of their political career.
No doubts that the smaller as well as the bigger European countries face a lot of problems, yet these problems are very far from the standards that are immanent in Russia as demonstrates the article that analyzes the condition of Russian media.
We wish you an interesting reading