29 July 2010

Kosachev offers another sign of shift in official Russian position on the Soviet past

On 29 June 2010, an article by Konstantin Kosachev, Chair of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs, argued that the damage to Russia’s reputation was beginning to outweigh the advantages brought by defending the Soviet past on the international arena.

In the article, Kosachev called for a new strategy to be devised to handle issues relating to Soviet history. He suggested the formulation of a kind of ‘historical doctrine’, comprising a set of principles outlining very clearly where Russia stands with regard to the Soviet past, and couched in terms that would be easily comprehensible to Russia’s foreign partners.

Kosachev proposed that such a doctrine would, for example, draw a sharp distinction between historical evaluations of Soviet actions at the domestic level, and at the foreign policy level. The former should be the business of each individual post-Soviet state; the latter should be ‘the subject of historical analysis, but not of political initiatives’, with no unilateral revisions to be permitted.

He argued that such a strategy could help Russia to deflect East European attempts at provoking Russia into aggressive responses on the historical front, as well as protecting Russia against possible future demands for compensation for the victims of Soviet crimes.

The article is available here.

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