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The Attack on History

From Luke Harding of the Guardian, the latest regrettable attacks on history and the politics of memory in Russia.

A group of British academics including the historian Orlando Figes and the poet and translator Robert Chandler have spoken out after authorities in Russia closed down a website dealing with the country’s controversial Soviet past.

On 19 June the home affairs ministry in St Petersburg shut down thesite www.hrono.info. The website had been Russia’s largest onlinehistory resource, widely used by scholars in Russia and elsewhere as aunique source of biographical and historical material.

Officials said they closed the site because it published extractsfrom Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf. Today, however, its founder,Vyacheslav Rumyantsev, said the closure had nothing to do with Hitler,adding that the text was widely available elsewhere and was onlysummarised on the site.

Rumyantsev said the authorities may have pulled the plug after anarticle was posted on 16 June criticising St Petersburg’s pro-Kremlingovernor, Valentina Matviyenko. The article attacked Matviyenko’sdecision to cut an allowance given to survivors of the Nazi siege ofLeningrad.