On December 21, 2010 Moscow hosted the opening ceremony of the monument "In the fight against fascism, we were together." This event will be a response to the barbaric destruction of the Monument to the Glory of the Soldiers of the Great Patriotic War, demolished at the direction of Mikhail Saakashvili in Georgia a year ago. Meanwhile, Estonia is considering demolishing of another Soviet-era memorial.
The participants of the ceremony at Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow included Vladimir Putin, the mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin, as well as two prominent Georgian opposition activists, former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze, and former Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli. The sculptural composition was erected in memory of the soldiers and officers of all nationalities of the USSR who together defended their homeland from the Nazis.
The Press Service of the Russian Government mentioned that the idea of the monument emerged after the events of December 19, 2009 in Kutaisi. Then, at the direction of Saakashvili, the monument erected by the sculptor Merab Berdzenishvili in honor of the 300,000 Georgians who died in the Great Patriotic War was blown up. During the demolition of the monument two people were killed and several injured.
This action caused a wide resonance in Georgia and beyond. Domestically, the opposition has held several protests against this method of "rewriting the history." On its part, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the actions of Saakashvili and his entourage an act of state vandalism and sacrilege.
Meanwhile, in another former Soviet republic, Estonia, another "Bronze Soldier" may disappear. A member the unit of the ruling coalition of the nationalist party the Homeland Union and the Republic Jaan Roosnurm demanded to remove the monument to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War from the center of the spa town of Pärnu. The monument has an engraving: "Honor and glory to the fallen for the freedom of working people."
Since the monument was erected not only in the memory of those fallen on the battlefields of the Great Patriotic War, but also in honor of the fighters for the establishment of Soviet power in Estonia, Roosnurm called it "red" and proposed to move the monument to a museum. So far there was no official reaction of Pärnu mayor's office to this proposal. However, the situation is alarming as the campaign to demolish the "Bronze Soldier" in Tallinn had nearly the same start.
How should Russia resist the attempts of Georgia and Estonia to rewrite the history? How long will the two former and seemingly different ex-Soviet republics will base their policy on the Russo-phobia? Sergey Markov, the State Duma deputy, a member of the anti-falsification of history unit under the Russian President shared his thoughts in an interview with Pravda.ru.
"Is today's erection of the monument in Moscow a good step?"
"This step is completely justified. It seems that after that it would be nice to put a copy of the Bronze Soldier in front of the Estonian embassy in Moscow."
"What are the objectives of Georgia and Estonia when they are destroying monuments to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War?"
"The motives of both countries are based on the current political state of affairs. For the existing Georgian leadership it is very important to show that Russia has never been a friend of their country. Unfortunately, today in Russia there are publications representing Georgia as practically an enemy of Russia. With regard to Estonia, fighting with monuments is the continuation of its policy that has nothing to do with democracy and is aimed at alienating the Russian-speaking population from the country's public life.
"How long will Georgia and Estonia fight with the monuments and history?"
"It seems that it will be long-lasting. Strictly speaking, there is nothing surprising in this. History has always been a political tool everywhere. And if this is an anti-Russian policy, then the interpretation of history will be similar. When we celebrate victory on May 9 and actively teach history of the Great Patriotic War in schools it is also an instrument of politics. Only in this case - our own.
The talks about leaving the history to historians are not quite fair. Yes, of course, there is a part of history that should be dealt with by professionals, and amateurs have no place in it. However, there is history for the entire society, the history as the basis of remembrance for every citizen. And this is not for professionals only.
"How should Russia confront a similar policy of Georgia and Estonia?"
"Erection of monuments is a good thing, but it is not enough. The task of our politicians and our historians is to show the true history of the Russian-Georgian relations, which had at least as many good moments as it had bad ones. It is very important to invest money in history. Today, little Georgia spends more on historical research than huge Russia does. If we are careless about this subject, we will lose in the struggle for history, for the minds of people.
As for Estonia, it is necessary to use political instruments. We need to reveal the facts that prove that this country glorifies the Nazism. We need to work with the European Union, with the European Left. Let the German Social-Democrats who have anti-fascist attitude arrange obstruction for Estonians.
Today's Russia is exactly in line with the European approach to history. It lies in the fact that the past should not divide, but unite. But EU member Estonia and Georgia that is striving for membership behave exactly the opposite way.
"It looks like skimping on the history can cost us dearly?"
"Today, wars are fought with different means. If in the 20th century, the main weapons were tanks, planes and ships, today it is funds and grants. We need to give undergraduate and graduate students grants for historical research. We need to engage in publishing activities. We need to publish scientific and popular history magazines, organize conferences, and shoot films.
The United States is well aware what history means. The country does not spare expense on book publishing and movies. Today, our students often learn the history from American movies. For Ukraine, their Diaspora in the U.S. and Canada wrote their own history books with anti-Russian overtones. We can fight with them only by creating our own books, our own movies. Finally, we need to create an Institute of Russia and Ukraine that could weaken the effect of the activities of American foundations. We cannot be skimping on our history.
Russia should not silently endure abuse, no matter where it comes from. Demonstrating that we are not going to tolerate Russophobe tricks of our neighbors, we will win more respect in the world and send the right signals to our allies.