Historians’ Commission off to rocky start

  • 2012-08-22
  • From wire reports

SLOW START: Inesis Feldmanis says that work by Latvian and Russian historians hasn’t gotten past early obstacles.

RIGA - In an interview with the daily Neatkariga Rita Avize earlier this month, the University of Latvia professor and the chairman of the Presidential Historians’ Committee Inesis Feldmanis said that cooperation between Latvian and Russian historians will improve once Russia admits to Latvia’s occupation, reports LETA. Russia is one of the last countries to not officially recognize this reality.

Feldmanis says that work on the Latvian-Russian Historians’ Commission is moving forward, though relatively slowly.
He is confident that cooperation with Russian historians will improve once Russia admits to the occupation, even though former Russian President Boris Yeltsin once acknowledged in Cesis (northeastern Latvia) in 2006 that the Soviet Union did occupy Latvia.

The historian also said that many in Russia are not willing to admit to the crimes committed by their ancestors. “The Russian society remains divided. On one side you have the children and grandchildren of those who committed these crimes, and on the other side you have the children and grandchildren of those who suffered from these crimes.”
Feldmanis also commented on the rhetoric some political observers in Russia have directed towards Latvia. “If some so-called political or historical experts from Russia wish to speak about some kind of absurd revival of neo-Nazism or neo-Fascism in Latvia, then they must first look at their own country, where this problem is at a much, much greater level than in Latvia,” Feldmanis added.

Propaganda from other sources has provoked interest from Latvia’s security services.  Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (Unity) has sent a letter to Security Police Chief Janis Reiniks, urging him to assess the activities of “the Russian Society in Latvia” and the information published on the organization’s homepage.
The Defense Ministry has obtained materials on World War II burial grounds of Soviet soldiers and Latvian civilians, containing ideologically defined information aimed against Latvia, Europe and its identity, said the Defense Ministry’s Press Department.

“I believe that this organization deliberately manipulates historical facts and terminology, attempting to divide Latvia’s society. Moreover, the organization, which claims to represent the Russian community in Latvia, casts a shadow over those Russians who are patriots of our country and connect the future of their kind with Latvia. Such materials compare Nazi ideas with European values, emotionally tie the European nations with actions against the Russian nation and culture, and support totalitarian ideologies,” emphasized Pabriks.