Russia Shouldn't White Wash Soviet Past

Russia Shouldn't White Wash Soviet Past

Sunday marks the 70th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a nonaggression treaty between the two totalitarian powers of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, as well as a secret protocol that divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence between Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.

In May, President Dmitry Medvedev authorized a commission to investigate cases of historical revisionism of World War II to the detriment of Russia. The move followed the approval a year earlier of new school textbooks that reassessed the role of Stalin, acknowledging that he had made some errors but noting in turn his achievements and successes, particularly in the war years. Taken together, they symbolize the new Russian policy of identifying contemporary Russia with the former Soviet regime.

Last month, Russia responded furiously to a proposal by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to declare Aug. 23 a commemoration of the victims of fascism and communism. In Moscow’s view, it is not possible to equate the evils of Nazism with Stalin’s regime.

Reporter Ilya Kanavin recently focused on the pact on “Vesti Nedeli,” citing historian Natalya Narochnitskaya’s view that by the terms of the pact, the Soviet Union was only regaining territories that were formerly part of the Russian Empire. Citing this same author, Kanavin maintained that Stalin was obliged to make a deal with Hitler for the following reasons

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