Nearly thirty years after the end of a seventy-year dictatorship that claimed millions of victims, aside from symbolic reparations, the post-Soviet government(s) have implemented little to none of the recognized, institutionalized transitional justice mechanisms to reckon with this past. Rather than fully confronting its history of multiple regime abuses, there has been a persistent, politically-driven effort to manage national and public memory by repressing, controlling, or even co-opting the memory of repression. Now, as under Khrushchev and Gorbachev, the government sanctions the immortalization of victims to a point, but draws a rather thick line when it comes to the discussion of the perpetrators. Not one henchman has been tried, nor one truth commission instigated, victim compensation is limited, as is archival access, the record in history textbooks is a political narrative, and researchers of Stalinism are still arrested or harassed on spurious charges. It was not until 2015 that the state sanctioned the plan for an official monument to the victims of Stalinism. Most of them did not live to see it erected.
This talk will focus on some of the causes and consequences of post-Soviet Russia’s ambivalent attitude toward its Stalinist past, and reflect on how to move beyond current impasses.
Professor Nanci Adler