ISSUE 3-2011
Mykola Riabchuk Виктор Замятин Богдан Олексюк
Томаш Гланц Владимир Воронов Ондржей Соукуп Петр Вагнер
Тигран Закарян
Ростислав Павленко
Pavel Vitek

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles and/or discussions are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views or positions of the publisher.


Dear reader,

Welcome to the double issue of our journal which is almost exclusively devoted to events of the recent past. This is probably the reason why they are still subject of a rather heated discussion. In a series of past issues, our journal reported on attempts by top Russian officials to paint their perception of history. Headed by President Vladimir Putin, Russian politicians are gradually introducing their concept of twentieth-century history, which should serve primarily as a tool against the "falsification" of history, which is seen in virtually everything written on the history of the interwar period and World War II itself by Western historians.

We waited until the end of the year before releasing this double issue, as we had long suspected that President Putin's speeches given during the year which commemorates the anniversary of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, would include further attempts to introduce a new interpretation of this event and subsequent historical facts. However, what followed more than surpassed our expectations. Putin addressed the topic not only at the traditional annual press conference, but also at the meetings of the heads of CIS countries, and even at a meeting of the Board of the Ministry of Defense of the RF.

At the two latter meetings, he announced that he was going to write a paper dedicated to the pre-war period at the end of which Hitler and Stalin supervised the preparation of a document later signed by Ribbentrop and Molotov. It was clear what the meaning of this paper would be, i.e. a continuation of the ongoing revision of Russia's and even Putin's position on the Pact. Obviously, this is something to look forward to.[1] The history of interpretations of the Pact on the Soviet and Russian sides is described in a paper written by a Russian historian and journalist Vladimir Voronov.

Putin argues, and will always argue, that there were other non-aggression pacts concluded with Hitler's Germany, consequently, even in his planned paper he will bypass or distort the most important point, namely the content of secret amendments to the pact between Berlin and Moscow. These included nothing less than the division of territories and spheres of influence between the two dictatorships and their cooperation on the battlefield and in the economic sphere.

The Munich Agreement is hardly one Western democracies should boast about. One can find some understanding for the motives of their leaders, driven primarily by the desire to avoid war, whose destructiveness many could experience in the trenches of the previous Great War. The motives for the temporary collusion between Hitler and Stalin were of quite a different nature.

The two dictators ganged up to divide a part of Europe. In addition, one of them received an important security guarantee for the invasion of Poland owing to the fact that its counterpart became its accomplice by joining the Nazi aggression. The essay of the Czech historian Vít Smetana is devoted to the circumstances and the content of the Pact, which can be considered, especially from the perspective of a Russian reader, a summary of positions that have gradually crystalised from long-term researches conducted by both Western and some Russian historians.

There is no politics in Russia today, only history, a Russian political scientist said in a recent discussion. If we look at Putin's recent public speeches, there are some aspects of contemporary Russian reality to be found in this statement. The question arises why Putin et al. once again, come up with new accusation of the West of falsifying history now, 75 years after the end of World War II, and why they need to present a "true" interpretation of Soviet history. Some of the possible reasons are identified in the paper of a Russian journalist Igor Yakovenko, who puts Putin's efforts into the Russian historical context.

The new issue also introduces other articles dealing with more distant as well as almost contemporary history which will hopefully provide you with space for reflection and give you a reason to revisit our site.

Happy New Year from the Editorial Board

[1] In connection with Putin's flirting with history, it is worth reading an essay by the Polish historian Sławomir Dębski, which points to Putin’s many sins as a “historian”.




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