His actions aren’t driven by the conditions of the present but rather reproduce the same immutable state principle.
Paradoxically, in this sense the cult of great rulers combines with an impersonal and cyclical notion of history, which has supposedly been repeating for centuries as an unconscious archetype: the unchanging Russia is always opposed by the unchanging West. The names of that enemy are constantly changing – from the Crusaders and Napoleon to Hitler and Biden – though its essence remains unchanged. The content of the ideas that the archetypal enemy offers – be it Roman Catholicism, racial theory or liberal democracy – does not matter, as its goal of destroying Russia remains the same.
The path of history is supposedly determined not by the desires of people or ideological struggle, but by the clash of eternal forms, civilizations frozen in time. This battle continues both in the present and in the past, which the enemy is also constantly trying to attack and rethink. "Falsification of history" is officially recognized as a key threat to national security, and, as Putin never tires
of repeating, "the shaking up of states and peoples” starts with "distorting history.”
The sovereignty of the present thus stands on the foundation of the sovereignty of the past, any attempt to challenge the coherent nature of which is tantamount to a state crime. By and large, this was the crime of the historian Yuri Dmitriev and the organization Memorial. In fact, the prosecutor explicitly accused
Memorial in court of "distorting historical memory.”Russia’s institutions of "cold memory"
The memory of repressions, like that of popular uprisings or the suppression of national minorities, undermines state history, which is conceived as a story about the eternal, harmonious unity of the people and state in confronting external threats. The danger of this state-defying memory is that it constantly presents material evidence: forgotten mass graves, personal testimonies and interrogation records.
Since the early 2010s, a powerful infrastructure for the state’s “history policy” has been created, including hundreds of monuments and exhibitions. One of the main contractors for the state orders, the Russian Military-Historical Society, headed by Vladimir Medinsky, was established jointly by the culture and defense ministries, vividly illustrating the connection between history and "national security.”
Another important player in this arena is the My History Foundation, which is close to the Patriarchate and has already created a huge network of so-called "historical parks
,” offering in an accessible form the official concept about the continuity of all iterations of the Russian state – from ancient Rus' to the Stalinist USSR.
A distinctive feature of these expositions is the complete dematerialization of the historical process – it is not a museum where the story of epochs is built around authentic objects and documents, but rather an endless series of banners and produced videos. Invited to "learn about their history," visitors find only a thousand-year-long series of glorious victories won thanks to wise rulers.