An interview with French historian and writer Pierre Lorrain.

The USSR and Germany signed the non-aggression pact years ago. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly offered to set a Nazism/Stalinism remembrance day for August 23. This newspaper approached French historian and writer Pierre Lorrain for comments.

Question: Why would the OSCE want it?

Pierre Lorrain: It is fashionable nowadays. Parliamentarians, and not only the European ones, tend to perform the functions they are not supposed to perform. Like deciding what was good and what was bad in the past. They claim that since they represent the people, they and only they have the right to define the truth.

The way I see it, that’s an encroachment on common sense. It shouldn’t be tolerated. It is wrong for politicians in democracies to interpret history to suit their purposes, much less to put matters such as this to the vote. Unless we want to find ourselves in Orwell’s 1984, that is.

Revision of history to suit one’s current purposes is like playing with a stacked deck. That’s what the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly resolution equating Nazism and Stalinism is.

So, what’s the matter? Pinning the blame for absolutely everything on Russia is considered good manners in certain circles – and these circles are quite numerous here. Whenever something bad happens anywhere in the world, these circles immediately start looking for a Russian connection. It’s a wonder they have missed a link between Russia and the typhoon that ravaged Taiwan and mainland China… Anyway, these anti-Russian forces do exist, and they operate on a permanent basis. What makes it even worse is that they never bother with arguments.

Question: But why all this hostility toward Russia? It abandoned Communist ideology almost two decades ago. Granted that it is not ideal at all, it remains a democracy…

Pierre Lorrain: Are you asking why the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly adopted this resolution? Because very many in it are still thinking in terms of the past Cold War.

Question: And yet, what is this anti-Russian bias rooted in?

Pierre Lorrain: There are several factors at play here. First, the spirit of the Cold War and the very world order where one system challenges the other… it is still very much alive, you know. Yes, very many people throughout the West regarded the USSR as a dangerous adversary, but there were also the people who regarded Russia as “the cradle of Communism”. They have always believed it and disintegration of the regime based on this ideology left them stunned and uncertain of what to do now. Unfortunately, these people wouldn’t recognize their mistakes or analyze the past. They began looking for the arguments to prove to everyone that they were correct all the same. It is not ideology that was faulty, they kept saying, it is the Russians.

Russia has no aggressive intents with regard to Georgia. And yet, our media commemorated the first anniversary of the Five Day War in the Caucasus with a series of pieces on Moscow’s alleged plans to overrun Tbilisi. Very many people therefore assume that the Kremlin is resolved to reestablish control over the formerly Soviet territories.

Question: Some politicians from Central Europe actively contributed to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly resolution…

Pierre Lorrain: They did, and they are another source of anti-Russian bias. Some former Soviet satellites shudder recalling post-WWII years. They experience the so called “phantom pain” and therefore view membership in the European Union and NATO as a guarantee from the hypothetical Red Threat. That is why these people never rest in the efforts to retain anti-Russian bias of the structures they represent. That is why they had no trouble befriending Victor Yuschenko in Ukraine and Mikhail Saakashvili in Georgia.

Question: Assisting them to worm their way into NATO and the European Union…

Pierre Lorrain: Well, they are allies! Yuschenko and Saakashvili believed that a confrontation with Russia would secure them membership in Western structures. That was a mistake. They know it know, but they cannot back off.

There is one other factor. There is a clique of very wealthy Russians working against the Kremlin. Some of them settled in Great Britain. They sponsor information attacks in the West against the Russian leadership and specifically against Vladimir Putin.

Question: Do you mean Boris Berezovsky?

Pierre Lorrain: Mostly Berezovsky, but there are others as well. As for Berezovsky, he does have the means for what he has been doing and he is skilled at manipulation. This guy can sell frigs to the Eskimo. Several years ago, well before the episode with polonium, a friend of mine offered me a job. “FSB Explodes Russia”, a book by Alexander Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky, had to be translated into French. I read it in Russian and discovered that it was trash. I refused. The friend of my was disappointed but called me back several days later and said that I stood to get a “handsome sum” for the translation. I did not even ask how much. I asked him who the generous benefactor was. “There are people with money who want the book published,” he replied.

Question: But didn’t give any names, did he?

Pierre Lorrain: No need to. The Social History Institute publishes a journal. Once its editorial office was asked to do a special issue about Putin. The journal was promised a hefty sum on the condition that all pieces on Putin would be as critical as possible. They refused, but I suspect that some other media outlets throughout the West were approached too. There is no saying how many of them rejected the offer.