What was “progressive” about the destruction of “pro-Western Novogorodian democracy?” What was progressive in the destruction of “the sovereign Cossack republic of the Don” or “in the Muscovitization of Ukraine which on the level of legal development and culture stood far ahead of Moscow?” Shiropayev asks rhetorically.
In the view of Russian historians like their Soviet and tsarist predecessors, “’a great state,’ the growth of territory and empire are fetishes valuable in and of themselves and unqualified criteria of ‘progressiveness.’”
But to anyone thinking clearly, “it is obvious that the victory of Novgorod or the inclusion of Russian lands within Lithuania or Poland would have been really progressive” because they would have led to one or another kind of integration in Europe, the only real “criterion of progress.”
Something similar can be said about the value Russian and Soviet historians place in a hyper-centralized state, Shiropayev continues. Such a state is harmful in and of itself because it allows the state to exploit the population beyond belief and because it makes the integration of Russia into Europe more difficult if not impossible.