Eesti Elu
Russia afraid of footing the bill if their version of history is changed (9)
Arvamus 20 Nov 2009  Eesti Elu
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Many observers have long insisted that the reason why “revisionist history’ as defined by the Kremlin is pathologically rejected is not only because of national pride, Russian chauvinism, fear of losing face or other similar emotional factors.

Practical considerations weigh heavily in the equation. This week Russian president Dmitri Medvedev made it clear that the prime reason for keeping rigidly to their own version of history is the fear of demands for reparations from foreign countries. Ria Novosti reported that the rewriting of history (obviously, Medvedev hasn’t been briefed on what western textbooks, historical treatises etc. contain) could spur the initiation of numerous demands for reparations.

“If power is given to falsifiers who attempt to rewrite history, then we’ll find ourselves face to face with those that demand compensation,” Medvedev said in a speech delivered to the complement of sailors on board the Russian warship Varjag. “This’ll be too dangerous for the country.” Yes, historians can debate many topics but the subject of the outcome of the Second World War is sacrosanct, not open for discussion, he stressed.

“We should be closely monitoring the situation, not let ourselves be dragged into arguments about different perspectives. We should rather be defending our position,” Medvedev added.

This year the Russian president has made many statements criticizing the “rewriting of history.” Also this year Medvedev created a special commission charged with the responsibility of defending the Kremlin’s version of history – the official story.

It is known that Moscow also keeps close tabs on reunions of the veterans of the Estonian and Latvian Waffen SS and the Ukrainian UPA.

But by publicly fearing the possibility of being saddled with indemnification, Medvedev has indirectly admitted possible culpability in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Russian reaction borders on the hysterical when accused of being a co-aggressor with Nazi Germany in initiating World War II; when accused of executing Polish military and civilian personnel in the Katyn forest; when reminded of the illegal annexation of the Baltic states and the ensuing repressions and deportations of hundreds of thousands of civilians; when confronted with the enormous damage done during the 50 years of occupying Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the devastating economic, cultural, social, ecological harm done to the peoples and country. This list is only a small section of the crimes committed, with thorough premeditation.

Medvedev knows that even an apology would be a dangerous admittance of guilt.

Could the possibility of demanding compensation be realistic? In a brief poll, conducted in 2008 by the Estonian newspaper ‘Postimees,’ 57.4% of respondents felt that Estonia together with its neighbours Latvia and Lithuania should present demands for reparations from Russia, as the recognized and admitted successor to the Soviet Union. Twenty five percent opposed reparations, stating that it was meaningless. Nearly ten percent stated that an apology would suffice. But as the Kremlin sees things, an apology translates into “we’re guilty.”
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