13 June 2009

Recent Sorties in the 'Memory War'

A quick update. On May 19, President Medvedev declared the creation of a special commission “to counteract attempts to falsify history that undermine the interests of Russia” (“по противодействию попыткам фальсификации истории в ущерб интересам России"). He did so days after recording this entry on his video-blog marking Victory Day, in which he states (after 3:06) that “attempts to falsify history” about World War II have become increasingly “angry and aggressive.” More about the ukase establishing the commission can be read in these Russian-language articles by RIA Novosti and Vedomosti and in this 11 June opinion piece by Janusz Bugajski from the Wall Street Journal Europe.

Who is responsible for these so-called “angry and aggressive” attempts to “falsify history,” according to the Kremlin? Medvedev has in mind, of course, Ukraine and Poland, who have recently announced a new development in their increasingly collaborative efforts to come to terms with the past.

On 11 June, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU, Служба безпеки України), which has become a significant actor in the investigation of Soviet crimes in Ukraine, announced that Poland's Institute of National Memory (IPN, Instytut Pamięci Narodowej) has given it a large store of archival documents relating to the activity of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA, Українська повстанська армія) from 1944-47. More about the transfer can be read in this Ukrainian-language article on Korrespondent.net. The SBU noted that this was not the first time it has collaborated with IPN, and these strides in Ukrainian-Polish cooperation on the memory front clearly have the Kremlin feeling defensive.

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