Putin’s administration, in its quest for historical legitimacy, seeks to synthesize disparate elements of Russia’s different ‘pasts’ into a kind of eclectic fusion. This ‘Special Way’ thesis will face a test in the coming year, argues Igor Torbakov. It will be interesting to see how Putin’s Russia marks the centenary of the 1917 Russian revolutions that ushered in the Soviet era of Russian history. But is it possible: a history without guilt or pain, offering reconciliation without truth?

Russia is a country with a suspended and unresolved historical memory. Therefore, life is now becoming more ideological, while ideology is becoming more historical. It’s time to set the trend upside down. To understand what kind of the past is needed for Russia’s future, at first it is necessary to understand what kind of future we want, argues Alexander Rubtsov in his reflection on the ‘What kind of the past is needed for the future of Russia?’ Part three in an ongoing debate.

Fashioning of a good future out of a bad past through constructing a ‘usable past’ for the national narrative is not unique to Russia. But in Russia 'de-Stalinization' is its acutest problem at the moment. So, the efforts of civic initiatives like Memorial and the Free Historians Society – and the resistance to them – draw attention to the challenges Russia faces in moving past its Stalinist past, writes Nanci Adler in a reflection on Greg Yudin’s essay ‘Russia’s Two Memories and Multiple Pasts’.

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