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Chapter One. Russian Historiography after the Fall

Abbott Gleason

Subject Study of History » Historiography

Place Eastern Europe » Russia

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405135603.2009.00002.x


These essays are being written and published at a significant moment in Russia's long and difficult history: almost twenty years after the end of the Soviet Union, at the end of the successive presidential terms of the man who has sometimes been called “Tsar Putin.” This not very clever moniker nevertheless forms part of the thematic of this period: Russia's attempted recovery of its connection to the imperial past. Another aspect of this historical moment is the Russian leadership's aspiration to recover some portion of the geopolitical (if not ideological) power and influence achieved by the Soviet Union, as we see in the adventure involving Russia and Georgia now (autumn, 2008) unfolding in the Caucasus. A discussion of the plausibility of the American policy of pushing NATO right up to the Russian border would take us too far afield, but it seems clear that Russia has probably suffered the worst of the inevitable pangs stemming from loss of empire, not to speak of the difficult transition between the decadence of Communism and its replacement by an authoritarian and rather predatory capitalism. Inequality has increased dramatically, but economic productivity is beginning to do the same. Much, but not all, of the old elite managed to hang on to some power during the transition to the new system through a kind of Russian-style insider trading. Remarkably enough, the extremely ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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