Russia Reviving Stalin, Downplaying Past -Scholar

A renowned Russia scholar who chronicled life under Stalin will not have the chance to share his work with the Russian public.  Orlando Figes, who wrote a notable book on daily life under Stalin titled The Whisperers, believes his Russian publisher bowed out of printing the book due to political pressure.

Figes asserts that the Kremlin is pushing to control history and rehabilitate Stalin’s image.  The historian describes his experience, and tactics used against the Memorial human rights group in the British Guardian newspaper:

On 4 December a group of masked men from the investigative committee of the Russian general prosecutor’s office forced their way into the St Petersburg offices of Memorial. After a search the men confiscated hard drives containing the entire archive of Memorial in St Petersburg: databases with biographical information on victims of repression; details about burial sites in the St Petersburg area; family archives; sound recordings and transcripts of interviews.

All the materials I collected with Memorial in St Petersburg (about one third of the sources used in The Whisperers) were also confiscated. The raid was part of a broader ideological struggle over the control of history publications and teaching in Russia that may have influenced the decision of Atticus to cancel my contract.

The Kremlin has been actively for the rehabilitation of Stalin. Its aim is not to deny Stalin’s crimes but to emphasise his achievements as the builder of the country’s “glorious Soviet past”. It wants Russians to take pride in their Soviet past and not to be burdened with a paralysing sense of guilt about the repressions of the Stalin period.