Nationalism of Putin's Era Veils Sins of Stalin's





TOMSK, Russia — For years, the earth in this Siberian city had been giving up clues: a scrap of clothing, a fragment of bone, a skull with a bullet hole.

And so a historian named Boris P. Trenin made a plea to officials. Would they let him examine secret archives to confirm that there was a mass grave here from Stalin’s purges? Would they help him tell the story of the thousands of innocent people who were said to have been carted from a prison to a ravine, shot in the head and tossed over?

The answer was no, and Mr. Trenin understood what many historians in Russia have come to realize: Under Vladimir V. Putin, the attitude toward the past has changed. The archives that Mr. Trenin was seeking, stored on the fourth floor of a building in Tomsk, in boxes stamped “K.G.B. of the U.S.S.R.,” would remain sealed.

The Kremlin in the Putin era has often sought to maintain as much sway over the portrayal of history as over the governing of the country. In seeking to restore Russia’s standing, Mr. Putin and other officials have stoked a nationalism that glorifies Soviet triumphs while playing down or even whitewashing the system’s horrors.

As a result, across Russia, many archives detailing killings, persecution and other such acts committed by the Soviet authorities have become increasingly off limits.



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Randll Reese Besch - 12/3/2008

A cry would go up. Will it be so now. Not just from Jews but everyone else that lost family to Stalin. It would not be tolerated in Germany or Japan so why not with Russia too?

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