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The politics of national history: Russia's ruling elite and the centenary of 1917

Ryan, James ORCID: 2018. The politics of national history: Russia's ruling elite and the centenary of 1917. Revolutionary Russia 31 (1) , pp. 24-45. 10.1080/09546545.2018.1480115

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This article examines the approach of Russia’s ruling elite to the challenge of commemorating the centenary of the Russian Revolution, and thus what can be learned about both the mindset of Russia’s rulers and representations of the Soviet past in Russia today. Through consideration of these issues, it provides more general reflection on the role of history in contemporary Russian politics and Russian foreign relations. The ‘official’ commemoration of the centenary has been low-key, and the approach of the ruling elite has been based primarily on stressing the dangers and undesirability of revolution. However, through a reading of the country’s modern history that stresses the importance of a strong state and an overarching historical continuity, the Revolution and the subsequent course of Soviet power can be, and have been, integrated into the preferred national historical narrative. The article suggests that there has been a distinct, and quite deliberate, ambiguity in the approach of the Russian state towards the Revolution and its significance. This is a consequence not simply of the Soviet triumph over Nazi Germany and the geopolitical might of the USSR, but also the historically progressive influences of Soviet socialism. © 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0954-6545
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 May 2018
Date of Acceptance: 12 April 2018
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 00:13

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