Saturday, July 21, 2018

Historical narrative of Russia's last Tsar remains split a century later

Since the fall of the Soviet Empire, Russian historians have been split on the narrative they choose to tell of Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia.

Immediately after the defeat of the Soviet Empire in the 1990s, many Russian Orthodox Christians worked to preserve the image of Nicholas II as a victim of merciless political tyranny-- a lasting warning of unchecked political zealousness. It was in those days that Nicholas II was portrayed as weak and defenseless, Russia Behind the Headlines reports.

During the presidency of Boris Yeltsin, however, Nicholas II's image began to evolve alongside the Russian public's growing distain for their president. As support for Yeltsin's liberal party began to fall away, Nicholas II erupted as a strong symbol for conservative opposition.

Nicholas II's image was so strongly resurrected in the collective memory of the Russian public in the late 1990's that Yeltsin formed a commission to officially identify what was believed to be the remains of the royal family in an abandoned residence in the Sverdlovsk region.

After Putin assumed the presidency years later, Nicholas II's image was instrumental in rebuilding a fractured Russian society. Putin often evoked Nicholas II as he attempted to invent a new sense of Russian civic pride, honoring the great leaders of its past, including Alexander Nevsky, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, and Marshal Zhukov, according to Russia Behind the Headlines.

Now, Nicholas II's image is no longer evoked in official Russian political language. The memory of his royal rule is one that exists just outside the boundaries of what is current and relevant in Russian leadership. However, Nicholas II will always remain a strong, albeit unofficial, reminder of the strength of yesterday's Russia before it was corrupted by tyranny.