Have fundamental agreements been reached on the development of cooperation with historians of the Republika Srpska?
Ruslan Gagkuev: One of the main goals of the Russian Historical Society delegation was to expand cooperation with the University of Eastern Sarajevo. The request of historians of the Republika Srpska is obvious. We discussed the most priority areas of cooperation for us. First among the planned events will be a joint conference on the most topical issue for historians of both countries – the history of World War II. On the one hand, it is important for Russian and Serbian historians to preserve the memory of fighters against Nazism, on the other hand, to prevent falsification of its history. The latter is particularly important, as such attempts have become more frequent in recent years. We are talking about both the responsibility for the outbreak of the Second World War and the attempts to revise its results, to minimize the role of the USSR in the defeat of Nazism.
These aspects will be addressed at the international conference scheduled for November this year in East Sarajevo. Besides the Russian Historical Society and the University of Sarajevo East, the Institute of Russian History and the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences will be the organizers. We intend to attract leading Russian experts on this issue to participate and return to Republika Srpska. Some of the speakers will connect to his work remotely.
Nikita Gusev: In addition, there are plans for future cooperation. The University of Eastern Sarajevo is interested in organizing a regular scientific conference on Russia’s historical role in the Balkans. Under the conditions of a boycott of Russian sites by Western scientists, it could become a neutral territory in which national scientists would have the opportunity on the international stage to defend the historical truth about the liberating role of Russia for the peoples of the Balkans and not allow it to be consigned to oblivion. In the long term, the parties noted the need to organize events dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the uprising against the Turkish authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2025. During it, Russia supported the rebellious Slavs, and the uprising itself was the beginning of the Great Eastern Crisis, which culminated in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, which brought freedom to the Bulgarians, Serbs and Montenegrins.
p class=””>You participated in the inauguration of the RIO exhibition “Do not forget” at the Faculty of Philosophy of the ISU, intended to remind the international community, mainly young people, of the sacrifices made by the peoples of the USSR in the name of saving the world from the “brown plague” of the 20th century. How did the local public react to this project?
Ruslan Gagkuev: The exhibition in question was prepared by the Russian Historical Society and the History of the Fatherland Foundation with the participation of the Russian Archives in the year of the coronovirus pandemic. It is gratifying that our efforts to create such exhibitions in different European languages - including Serbian – have met with interest in different European countries. The inauguration of the exhibition in the building of the University of Sarajevo-East was attended by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Bosnia and Herzegovina IAKalabukhov, Rector of the University Milan Kulich, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy Draga Mastilovic, as well as as many teachers and students of the university. It is important to note the press attention – our visit and the opening of the exhibition were covered extensively in the print media and on Republika Srpska TV channels. Considering the opening of the exhibition at the University, I believe that its main visitors will be students and young people, which is particularly important and meaningful for us.
The first eternal flame in memory of the participants and victims of World War II was lit in Yugoslavia. At the same time, attempts are being made to rehabilitate the Ustashi and other accomplices of the Nazis in the Balkans today. Serbian scientists strive to preserve the memory of partisans and civilians who died in Nazi-occupied territories during World War II. How can the Russian historical school help its Serbian colleagues?
Alexander Borisov and Ruslan Gagkuev. Photo: Alexander Borissov
Ruslan Gagkuev: Yes, the first eternal flame in memory of the victims of World War II was lit in Sarajevo in April 1946. It is burning even now. We have discussed the current situation in detail with our colleagues, and the conference on the history of the Second World War that we are planning is precisely intended to contribute to the fight against attempts to rehabilitate allies and accomplices of the Nazis. Many qualified historians in Russia deal with this issue. I am convinced that the exchange of information and experiences will not only strengthen the scientific ties between specialists of the two countries, but will also help to counter the trend you have indicated. The introduction of new sources into scientific and social circulation is also important. These captured documents from the Nazi bloc countries, kept in the central archive of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, can be very useful for Serbian historians.
In addition to the conference, it is important to talk about another project currently being implemented by the Russian Historical Society and the Fatherland History Foundation. Last year we prepared and published in Russian a manual on the history of the Second World War, intended for our compatriots living abroad and foreign citizens. For the latter, we plan to translate this edition into the 10 most spoken languages in the world. Considering the importance of cooperation with the Serbs for us, we will prepare a Serbian-language edition, presenting it separately when it comes out.
Nikita Gusev: First of all, of course, documentary evidence is important here, providing irrefutable proof of the crimes of the Nazis and their accomplices. Russia has the richest collections deposited during the activities of the Soviet armed forces, Soviet diplomats and Soviet intelligence services. The identification of relevant documents, if necessary, and their declassification, followed by a full-fledged scientific publication in Russian and Serbian, could go a long way in ensuring that these crimes are not forgotten. However, here, of course, little effort is made by historians alone. This issue not only requires funding, but in fact the creation of a special inter-ministerial commission, which would include not only researchers, but also representatives of the archives concerned and the services in charge of these funds. Only such a thorough approach would make it possible to fully organize the identification of documents, which, I am sure, still contain a lot of information that is not known not only to the public, but also to Russian and Serbian scientists.
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