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Rewriting history

By Messenger Staff
Monday, March 30
Russian political analysts and historians are unhappy when researchers from former Soviet countries publish books which mention Moscow’s aggressive and colonialist policy.

Soviet historiography always presented Russia as the saviour(!) of its neighbouring states. It has never conquered any foreign country?! All the neighbouring countries joined Russia voluntarily!? With great pleasure they gave up their sovereignty and handed over their statehood and territory to their honest, noble and devoted neighbour who was willing to carry the heavy burden of protecting the interests of these new provinces.

Other nations, starting from the late Middle Ages, perpetually disturbed busy and friendly Moscow by asking one and the same question: when will you start taking care of us? Poor Russia, contrary to its interests, would take on yet another obligation. All of Siberia pleaded despairingly: take us please! The Caucasus annoyingly demanded for years: please incorporate us, we are fed up of independence (there are two clear examples of this today, the puppet regimes of Abkhazia and South Ossetia). Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany and many others just begged the Kremlin to put them under the heel of Russia. Finland in 1939 wanted to join Russia. The Baltic republics lobbied so hard that at last Stalin agreed to take care of these countries.

The list of such acts of Russian benevolence is long… very long. Why should it be otherwise? It was the Britons, French and Spaniards and others who used to conquer, colonise, oppress and exploit, not the Russians. Everyone welcomed the cuddly bear who wanted humans for a toy. But now these ungrateful nations have started criticizing Moscow! Since the 90s of the last century almost all the countries which have freed themselves from Soviet chains have developed a new interpretation of history, a true one. Even more strangely, Moscow, the wise and benign ruler which indulged its people’s foibles so much, now does not like this!

The Russian version has not gone away. President Medvedev would be pleased to hear it repeated, as he has confirmed in his letter to the founder and chairman of Georgian NGO Historic Heritage Tariel Gagnidze. Medvedev has stated that he is sure Russian researchers will support the NGO as they are interested in objectively assessing the history of the two countries. He described this shared past as “pages of history we can be mutually proud of,” a statement which says much about the nature of the current Russian regime. We keep repeating the tragic joke popular among the dissidents in 1968. What are the Soviet tanks doing in Czechoslovakia? Looking for the person who invited them into the country!

There are still many people in Georgia who honestly believe that union with Russia would be profitable for Georgia. They forget many things. The most important is the fact that the Kremlin provoked and aggravated two separatist conflicts in Georgia long before the latter applied to join NATO. Tbilisi started to flirt with NATO to protect itself from Russia, not vice versa as Moscow insists.

Now Russia has occupied 22% of our territory and the opposition wants the President to resign. The President does not want to go and confrontation is approaching. What happens from here? One old Tbiliseli (resident of Tbilisi) told me some days ago at one of the open markets: “If Saakashvili is removed by force the Russians will bring in a loyal leadership. If he goes peacefully the Westerners will win.” Both sides always talk about “the will of the people,” but the will of the Georgian people is nowhere to be seen in this equation.

It is winners, not losers, who write history. Will history be rewritten again?