Who writes Russian history nowadays: the state or the citizens? Since the protests of 2011-2012, the state is controlling the historical narrative more and more. But apart from this statist memory-policy a more individual narrative is developing. According to Greg Yudin - one of the authors of Wither Past for the Russian Future? - this second memory challenges the monopoly of the state. This diversification of historical memory might be even a sign for political diversification to come, writes Greg Yudin in an article to kick off a debate on history in Russia.

Illustratie Nanette Hoogslag

by Greg Yudin

In 2000s, Russia was a society preoccupied with the rise of its consumption level and the rulers have consistently built their support on the simple fact that ordinary people are better off. The protests of 2011-2012 were explained by some government officials as a request for representation from a newly emerged middle class. From this perspective the subsequent changes came quite unexpected – the authoritarian entrenchment, confrontational foreign policy and rise of militarism that paved the way to the annexation of Crimea and Donbass war, increasing social tensions around religion and art. Why would a country with a rising economy choose such a dangerous and aggressive path?

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