ISSUE 2-2019
Roman Temnikov
Pavel Havlicek Michal Lebduska Bogdan Oleksyuk Bogdana Kostyuk
Otar Dovzhenko
Pavel Vitek
Maxim Rozumny

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.

By Pavel Venzera | Researcher in Politics, the Czech Republic | Issue 2, 2019

The website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation informed on 23rd April 2019 that the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov had presented a book called “Крым в развитии России: история, политика, дипломатия. Документы архивов МИД России.” Any publication collecting old and bringing new historical documents is always welcomed because it provides us with new possibilities to enrich our historical research.

The importance of historical sources was emphasized by the Minister himself: “Archival materials are the hardest and most objective evidence of the past.“ In our case these documents should “clearly demonstrate the unity of our [Russian-Crimean] historical path.”

The starting point of this “historical path” the authors of the collection put in year 1700 when Russia as a result of the Treaty of Constantinopol secured possession of the Azov region and the edition of documents ends in year 1922 when the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR was signed. However, peninsula was a part of Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic till 1954, this period is not included as if today´s Russia didn´t have anything in common with the former Soviet republic.

Authors of the collection do not feel urge to explain why they chose this rather strange time frame and no wonder that one could smell a rat there: had this period been included the publishing of the documents connected with the transfer of the Crimean Oblast from Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic would be unavoidable.

These documents incorporating Crimea into Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic would interrupt above mentioned “historical path” for the following 60 years when they were trampled by boots of Russian soldiers who invaded Simferopol in 2014 and subsequently provoked armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which continues to the present day.

Mr. Lavrov stressed out that so called Crimea’s reunification with Russia “is settled for good, whether anyone likes it or not. No declarations by Washington, the EU or NATO can change this situation, either legally or politically.” Allow me a remark on this place: history can be whimsical. Stalin and his successors were also strongly confirmed that the annexation of the Baltic States in 1940 “is settled for a good” but this “unity of historical path” was destroyed as soon as the first appropriate opportunity occured…

But back to the edition itself. Even though, it is interesting, because Russian archivists are great experts, it also once again demonstrates how historiography, subjected to political interests and ideology, loses its credibility. However, unlike in other cases, we do not deal with falsification of history, the selective attitude chosen by Russian experts rather distorts reality.

Speaking about usefulness of selection we should also recall another performance of Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova in Moscow on 25 April 2019. During her traditional briefing she adressed words of US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. who said: “Each of the carriers operating in the Mediterranean represents 100,000 tonnes of international diplomacy… If [Russia] truly seeks better relations with the United States, it must cease its destabilizing activities around the world.” 

Based on Ambassador´s words Ms. Zakharova delivered historical lecture to attending journalists in which she highlighted some of the Russian victories in various times and wars. She also reminded them of upcoming anniversary of 9 May and she warned the Ambassador in ironical tone that the possible U.S.A. attack would only make an occasion to celebrate another Russian victory.

No one wants to dispute the contribution of U.S.S.R to defeating fascism or the famous ancient Russian victories but there were also famous defeats which a historian from higher Russian places should be aware of if she wants to make historical jokes.

Ms. Zacharova advised American diplomats “to study history better than they do.“ It would be possible to recommend the same to her. Speaking about history of Crimea here, it might be useful to start with history of the city of military glory – Sevastopol. It is possible to find a lot about mentioned “tonnes of international diplomacy” delivered by Allies to Russia in Crimean war. As written above: history can be whimsical and therefore it is necessary to treat it with care.

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