New York Times correspondent Valerie Hopkins reports from her relatively new post in Moscow that Vladimir Putin now is seeking to blur memories of the old Soviet Union’s Cold War gulag.
Ms. Hopkins, daughter of a retired VOA newsroom editor, Zora Hopkins, sees current developments in Russia as part of Mr. Putin’s two-decades-long effort to erase memories of the gulag era.
Valerie Hopkins reports that Putin prosecutors are moving today to liquidate archives in Moscow of Memorial International, Russia’s most prominent human rights organization.
Aleksandr Baunov, editor-in-chief of the Carnegie Foundation’s Moscow independent website, says that Mr. Putin is “obsessed with making Russia great again.” That means denying Russian reform movements in the 1990s to establish a true democracy in the post-Cold War era.
Abolishing Memorial, Mr. Baunov adds, “would help Mr. Putin suppress a forensic examination of one of Russia’s most shameful periods, even as descendants of its victims continue to grapple with the consequences.”
Follow-up events to watch in coming days
—Court hearings in Moscow on the fate of Memorial International. Some hearings were scheduled to take place as early as the waning days of November. “Russian prosecutors,” according to the Hopkins’ New York Times report, “will consider allegations that Memorial’s Human Rights center ‘justifies terrorist activities’ because it included members of imprisoned religious groups on its list of political prisoners.”
—Later the same week, according to the Valerie Hopkins report, Russia’s Supreme Court “will take up charges that Memorial International, which houses the human rights group’s archive, which Moscow claims ‘violates a draconian foreign agent law’.”
A New York Times headline summarizes the Page 1 Hopkins report succinctly:
Trying to Blur Memories of the Gulag, Russia Targets a Rights Group, as the Kremlin Moves to Control the Historical Narrative of the Soviet Union. Credible public diplomacy at its worst?
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More