Staunton, December 22 – In the current ideological vacuum in Russia, when ever more people are angry and want a focus for their anger, there is a temptation to come up with new holidays to commemorate some past victory of Moscow over someone else, but many of these attempts are not only ahistorical but dangerous, Vadim Trepavlov says.
The senior scholar from the Moscow Institute of Russian History made that argument in the course of a long lecture times to correspond to the 750th anniversary of the Golden Horde on “The Turkic World of Eurasian: The Search of Historical Logic” to the Milli Shura national council in Kazan (business-gazeta.ru/article/451129).
The difficulties Russians and others have always had with talking about the relationship between the Golden Horde and the emergent Russian state, he says, were brought into prominence again earlier this year when a governor proposed establishing a national holiday on the anniversary of what he believed was the end of the Mongol “yoke” in Russia (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/07/duma-set-to-make-anniversary-of-russias.html).
But not only the idea of a yoke but even more the notion that “the great standoff on the Ugra” marked the end of that period were historically problematic, Trepavlov says. Still worse, they stirred up passions on all sides that a more reasoned consideration of the subject could have allayed.
Unfortunately, instead of learning from this and avoiding taking overly populist steps, he continues, Russian officials seem set on dividing the population by coming up with even more problematic holidays. The Moscow Oblast Duma now wants to mark the Day of Victory over Crimean Forces near Moscow in 1572.
The scholars the Duma committee considering this notion all said it was a great idea and should be promoted as an all-Russian event. But Trepavlov demures: “In the current situation, it is difficult to imagine a more ridiculous and even dangerous ideal that giving the Crimean Tatars a negative reputation” by organizing such a holiday.
Unfortunately, he says, more nonsense is likely ahead. In 2023, many will want some public event to mark the 340th anniversary of the unification of Crimea to Russia and the concomitant liquidation of the Crimean khanate. Those in Russia capable of opposing “the historical illiteracy, political blindness and moral deafness” of some officials need to get to work.
If they don’t, Russia will likely suffer another series of self-inflicted wounds from long ago battles that should be the subject of careful historical research rather than of bombastic public speeches by those who do not know what actually occurred.