In early July the chairman of the Russian Historical Society addressed a gathering on how the country should mark the centenary of the revolutions of 1917 which toppled the Romanov dynasty and then brought the Bolsheviks to power. The Russian people, he said, should avoid ‘radical’ assessments of the events of 1917 and rather find in them ‘a source of national unity’. ‘Radicalism is generally harmful,’ he said, adding that ‘such momentous events [as those of 1917] cannot be painted in black and white’.
The Russian Historical Society is officially an umbrella organization for Russian historians as in any other country, but in fact it exists to deliver government talking points on ideological matters. Bizarrely, its chairman is not a professional historian but none other than Sergey Naryshkin, director of the SVR, the Russian foreign intelligence service.