Abstract

In this article the author explores some features of the politics of history in contemporary Russia. He argues that this politics tends to be reactive and unproductive both in the generation of national identity and as a counteraction to attempts to falsify history. The author stresses that the government should implement positive programs for national identity formation, find new ways to reach the compromise in all areas of disagreement about complicated historical episodes, and assume shared responsibility for past actions. The author argues that modern political and intellectual Russian and post-soviet elites go in the opposite direction: they actualize and politicize difficult and tragic episodes of the history, use “the image of the enemy” as an instrument of domestic and international policy and as a tool for national consolidation on the negative base. At the same time, the author notes that in modern Russia “collective past” is an object of situational “use” rather than “raw material” for a focused and methodical historical policy. Russian elites prefer not to discuss complicated issues of the past and avoid straightforward evaluation of historical events and figures. Consequently, such politics of history is limited and aims at legitimizing current political decisions and activities. The author comes to the conclusion that since the collapse of the USSR modern Russian elites were not able to formulate the concept of national history, accepted by the majority of population and correlated with the idea of new national identity. At the same time we should not focus on the refusal of the “politics of memory” in contemporary Russia, as it is virtually impossible, we should refuse the recurrence of the “politics of history”, i.e. the use of history as a tool for political struggle and political goals achievement.

Keywords: national identity, politics of history, legitimation, national narrative, political elites