History is all about argument. There is no absolute historical truth about anything big in history.” Robert Service, Professor of Russian History, Oxford University.
Russia has set up a commission to counter the falsification of history.
The country’s president , Dmitry Medvedev believes there’s an anti-Russian bias in the western media which is becoming “severe, evil and aggressive”
His country’s Prime Minister – Vladimir Putin - will today take part in commemorations in Poland to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two.
The back drop to today’s events is a row between Russia and Poland over the events that led up to September 1, 1939.
The Nazi- Soviet pact (right – with Joseph Stalin standing at the back) was signed just a week before – essentially it was a deal to carve up Poland and the Baltic states, and acted as “the starting gun” for the invasion of Poland.
Medvedev said in a TV interview that it was a “complete lie” to say that Stalin bore any responsibility for the war, and Russian state television even claimed that Poland was plotting with Nazi Germany AGAINST Russia.
Vladimir Putin has since tried to be conciliatory :
“It is possible to condemn – and with good reason – the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact concluded in August 1939…… it was unacceptable from the moral point of view”
Hence the new commission . It seeks to counter any suggestion that the Nazis and the Russians were anything other than bitter , sworn enemies. Russia sees it’s victory over Hitler as the greatest moment of the last century.
This, in a country that only in 1990 acknowledged it’s soldiers carried out the Katyn massacre of 22 thousand Poles in 1940. Up until then , they’d blamed the Nazis.
A film about the massacres- released two years ago- is banned from being shown in Russia.
Can a country control it’s own history ? is it important to maintain a version of events that makes people proud of their own country ? And are the Russians right ? is the rest of the world biased against them ?