Russisk politi slo 4. desember til mot det digitale arkivet til Memorial, en NGO som holder minnet om terroren under Josef Staling levende. Arkivet er et av de største i sitt slag og politiet tok med alle de 12 harddiskene.

Dette skjedde rett før det skulle åpne en internasjonal konferanse i Moskva om Stalin, arrangert av Memorial og Jeltsin-stiftelsen. Deltakerne sa de følte at man ikke lenger snakket om fortiden, men om nåtiden.

Jana Howlett, who teaches history at Cambridge university in the UK, participated in the Dec 5 conference on Stalin’s memory. She said: «At the conference there was a very real sense that what we were talking about was not just Stalin, what we were talking about is today, that the thirties are just around the corner again.»

Ni politimenn, to maskert, kom til Memorials kontorer i Moskva 4. desember og ble der i seks timer. De sa de var ute etter en ekstremistartikkel, men den var ikke publisert av Memorial Derimot var de svært interessert i det digitale arkivet og tok med seg hele arkivet på tre terrabyte.

One hundred thousand witnesses to the terror of Joseph Stalin’s rule are stored on 12 computer hard disks compiled by Memorial, a Russian human rights group based in St Petersburg. Several terabytes of data include thousands of hours of audio histories, digital versions of faded photographs, video evidence of mass graves. With a few computer keystrokes, one could retrieve a faded denunciation written by a son against a father, or hear a ghostly voice reciting a forced confession or naming her «co-conspirators».

It is the most complete public record of one of the most terrifying periods of modern human history, and mysteriously, it was also the target of a raid by Russian police on Memorial’s headquarters on December 4.


Razziaen er et signal: Det er velkjent at de offentlige arkivene har lukket seg. Historikere får ikke lenger tilgang som før. Nå er man også ute etter å forsegle og unndra andres arkiver. Den offisielle versjon skal ikke motsies.

rina Flige, director of Memorial’s office, says the police raid was not an accident or a case of mistaken identity. She believes that the work of her organisation in exposing and publicising Stalin’s crimes has become the target of a government effort to whitewash the past and justify in theoretical terms the continued existence of a strong authoritarian state. «It is a war over memory,» she says.

«The front line» between despotism and democracy in Russia, she adds, «runs through the past».
Now, according to Ms Flige, whatever openness there was is being rolled back, and the task of keeping the memory alive has fallen to private groups such as hers.

«Memorial pioneered the history of the Stalinist repressions,» says Orlando Figes, a University of London historian who worked with Memorial to do the research on his recent book The Whisperers, an account of the private lives of several families during the years of Stalin’s reign. «It’s not so much the loss of an archive, which is replaceable. Most of it is backed up. It’s the signal that it’s sending out to intimidate Memorial, to intimidate the public. Because they’re dependent on people coming forward to volunteer their stories.»

Restaurasjon av Stalin

Det er klare tegn på at Vladimir Putin ønsker en omskrivning av russisk historie. Stalin tildeles en mer konstruktiv rolle. Han hadde feil, men de oppveies av hans store fortjenester.

Stalins forbrytelser var imidlertid så monstrøse og rammet så mange at en hvitvasking får konsekvenser for hele samfunnet. Mener Putin virkelig å hvitvaske en av historiens verste forbrytere? Mye tyder på at han gjør det, og arbeidet er allerede igang.

Ms Figes said he believed the raid was meant to intimidate the organisation. «It’s a sign, not necessarily of a concerted campaign, but there are clear signals coming from the top echelons of government that there is a new official view of the Stalin era as something basically positive, and unofficial memories that challenge this are seen as somehow ­unpatriotic.»

Putin-vennlige intellektuelle angriper NGO’er som Memorial og sier de ødelegger Russlands historiske hukommelse. Man sier at landet trenger en nasjonal, offisiell hukommelse:

In the Dec 9 issue of Russkiy Zhurnal magazine, Gleb Pavlovsky, a Kremlin-backed political scientist, attacked Memorial as «an unsuccessful attempt at political memory» and complained that Russia was vulnerable to «foreign» conceptions of its history.

«Russia, not having a memory policy, has become defenceless before defamatory projections and aggressive phobias. Not having become a subject with its own memory, Russian society stands before the threat of becoming an object of foreign projections,» he said.

Dette føyer seg inn i en tendens Putin initierte:

Critics charge that the Russian state under Vladimir Putin, the former president – now prime minister, has begun to rehabilitate the dictator, as part of its attempt to roll back democratic freedoms. A 40-part documentary film released last year, for example, presents a whitewashed view of the Stalin era, and a new teaching manual, by historian Aleksander Filipov, glosses over the horrendous death toll of Stalin’s reign and describes him as an «effective manager» without whom Russia would not have won the second world war.

In a widely publicised meeting with history teachers last year, Mr Putin made it clear that Russian history should be taught in a positive light. He said Russia’s history «did contain some problematic pages. But so did other states’ histories . . . We have fewer of them than other countries, and they were less terrible than in other nations. We can’t allow anyone to impose a sense of guilt on us.»

Describing how the battle over history intersects with the modern-day confrontation over freedom and civil liberties in Russia, the authors Dmitri Furman and Pavel Palazchenko wrote in the Moscow newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta recently, «The ideology of the strong state has constructed its own ‘historical narrative’: Russian history is seen as a set of long periods of power and stability under strong central authority, broken up by short periods of chaos, after which the country is rebuilt by a strong regime.»

Stalin-era files raided

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