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26.10.2009
source: www.hro.org

Stop persecution of scholars and interference in historical research!

   

48 Russian scholars have signed a statement calling for an end to persecution and interference in historical research on far-fetched pretexts and causes. “We demand the termination of the criminal prosecution against Mikhail Suprun and Alexander Dudarev, an apology from the officials involved in this and compensation to the scholars for the moral damages inflicted and the return of all documents and material removed during searches”.

The authors insist that attempts to regulate and censor historical research are unacceptable in a free country and run counter to the Russian Constitution and international human rights documents.  They stress that the scientific community has no need for bureaucratic control and instructions and party leadership, and that academic institutions are sufficiently authoritative to take part as qualified experts in scholarly debate which can only be discredited by any “commissions to fight falsification of history”. “In reality true falsification of history is facilitated by closed access to many invaluable archival materials and new attempts to mythologize the recent past”.

The scholars express their categorical protest against the initiating of a criminal investigation on 13 September 2009 with regard to Professor of the Pomorsky State University Mikhail Suprun and Head of the Information Centre of the Arkhangelsk regional department of internal affairs Alexander Dudarev.

M. Suprun is suspected of having “for mercenary gain in order to later sell it decided to organize and carry out the gathering and formation into an electronic database of information about Soviet citizens repatriated from Germany at the end of the Second World War, who were ethnic Germans and Poles ..”

“For the first time in many decades officials of investigative bodies have carried out searches of historians, removing not only electronic holders of information, but also documents uncovered by M. Suprun as the result of painstaking research over many years in Russian and foreign archives.

It is not only the suspects who are traumatized by this, but also members of their families, friends and students. An important project on forming a database on victims of repression, carried out by the Pomorsky University and the German Red Cross has been stopped. There is no doubt of the outrageous nature of this shocking and pseudo-law-based action which is enormously harmful to Russia’s image and to the historical scholar community….”

“We are seeing the creation of a dangerous precedent on the basis of which one can initiate prosecutions of any historian whose research for any reason seems unwanted or inconvenient to the authorities. This augurs a return to the darkest times in the history of the Soviet State, shattered fates and devalued scholarly works.

We express solidarity with our colleagues in Arkhangelsk and our moral support for them.

At the present time indifference of representatives of the Russian historical community to this case will constitute corporate betrayal.

We demand the termination of the criminal prosecution against Mikhail Suprun and Alexander Dudarev, an apology from the officials involved in this and compensation to the scholars for the moral damages inflicted and the return of all documents and material removed during searches”

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