Russian Revolution and Its Centenary: No Longer Politics, Not Yet History

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Russia experienced its revolution late in the game. By that time, most Western countries had already gone through coups and industrialization and promptly rejected feudal rules and practices. Most importantly, they had had enough time to resign themselves to their revolutions and their consequences and national scars left by any upheaval had healed. Moreover, countries and peoples are – if not proud – not ashamed of the past events. In terms of historical memory, revolutions are often reconciled with national archetypes.

Russia and World War One

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It can be said without exaggeration that the First World War ushered in the 20th century with the roar of guns and the collapse of four empires. Not only did it redraw the world’s political map, but also altered the social make-up of all the parties. The First World War proved to be a severe test for Russia. And it was not so much the army which lost it, but the entire society and political system. The War was the greatest tragedy, which we still cannot fully grasp. The tragedy was perceived by its contemporaries as a “betrayal”. Mutual accusations of the betrayal eroded national unity, with the broad masses guided by local rather than national interests. As a result, those who truly served their country and were ready to shed blood for the sake of the common victory were betrayed.

June 22: History and Memory

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Each state has many memorable dates that serve as landmarks of the historical memory and provide retrospect with a cyclical character. June 22, the day when the Great Patriotic War began, holds a specific place. In contrast to the Victory Day, June 22 is the day of the great tragedy. This particular day divides the whole history both of the Soviet Union and Russia of the 20th century into “before” and “after” – into “before the war” and “after the war began”.

“Commit Thyself to Serving Motherland till Dying Day”

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Not only have the explorers’ courage and resolve contributed to the unity of Russia’s vast territory, but we are also united by language, culture, and history. They create an indivisible community embracing people from different social layers, who cherish various local and national traditions. Millions of people reside in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, but acting together they achieve unity, the synthesis of which is impossible to eliminate.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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Every word in the name of the country’s main memorial, unveiled precisely half a century ago in the Alexander Garden at the Kremlin Wall, is written in capitals. This is a sign of deep respect for those who died in defence of liberty and independence of our country.

Space Age: Rivalry and Cooperation

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The analysis of US-Russian space cooperation reveals that the two countries’ political will to seek compromises and to jointly address issues remains a deciding factor in ironing out differences. Moreover, the major powers’ willingness to surmount all difficulties will determine whether humanity will develop, benefiting from technological achievements and improving its quality of life, or it will be teetering on the brink of a nuclear war.

From February to October

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In the Annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin placed special emphasis on the idea that the anniversary of the February Revolution and the October Revolution is “a good moment for looking back on the causes and nature of these revolutions in Russia. Not just historians and scholars should do this; Russian society in general needs an objective, honest and deep-reaching analysis of these events”.

Reconciling with the Past

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Ahead of the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Rethinking Russia think-tank presents different viewpoints on the events. This is the essay by Anatoly Torkunov, Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Rector of Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and Chairperson of the Organizing Committee for the celebration.

The Great Split

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The Revolution, which broke out a century ago in Russia, is a most controversial and multifaceted phenomenon, which exerted powerful influence on the fate of the humanity as well as Russia. Thus, the events triggered by February 1917 can justifiably be referred to as “the Great Russian Revolution”.