Russian history rewrite denies pact with Nazis to divide Europe
RUSSIA: The proportion of Russians who refuse to believe that Stalin signed a secret pact with Hitler to carve up eastern Europe has almost doubled in the past decade, a new poll indicates.
The share of respondents who think the secret protocol of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact is ‘‘a fabrication’’ grew from 9 per cent in 2005 to 17 per cent last month, the independent Levada Centre polling agency found. Forty-four per cent said they had not heard about the secret protocol.
The non-aggression pact of 1939 has been rehabilitated under President Vladimir Putin, who has made victory in World War II central to his ideology of Russian might and glory.
It emerged after the war that the pact contained an undisclosed agreement to divide Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland into spheres of influence. The protocol’s existence was only admitted by the Kremlin in 1989, when Mikhail Gorbachev condemned it as ‘‘a contradiction of the sovereignty and independence of a series of third countries’’. He also said that the pact as a whole ‘‘deepened the consequences of the treacherous Nazi aggression’’.
Putin, however, argues that there was nothing wrong with the Kremlin making a deal with the Nazis, which lasted until Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. ‘‘The Soviet Union signed a non-aggression treaty with Germany,’’ he told young historians in Moscow three years ago. ‘‘People say, ’Ach, that’s bad’. But what’s bad about that if the Soviet Union didn’t want to fight, what’s bad about it?’’
Analysts say that under Putin, Soviet victory in World War II has become a ‘‘foundation myth’’ for modern Russia, with little tolerance for anything that taints the image of heroism. - The Times