Historical memory is often far more alive in Eastern Europe than in the West.
This is one reason why governments in the ex-Soviet republics and Russia have increasingly started to look back at the history of the Soviet Union and its relation to its former republics to add legitimacy for current geopolitical strategies involving those no longer part of the Soviet orbit.
In particular, as NATO expansion is advocated for Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia, it has become a staple of pro-NATO propaganda that only entrance into NATO and a forthright alliance with the USA can protect them from Russian domination.
This issue is one quite different to the that of EU membership. Yet the Atlanticists are very powerful in Eastern Europe in insisting that gravitation towards the EU can only be allowed if non-EU states first join NATO.
Something that only antagonises post-Soviet Russia and is probably meant to in some decision making quarters.
That had its consequences in August 2008 with the war between Georgia and Russia.
Instead of the West gradually building up trade ties with Georgia through the EU, the West had indulged Mikheil Saakashvili's belligerent nationalist regime. Its fanatical insistence on ramping up the conflict with Russia was intended largely as a means of speeding up NATO entry.
So it was hardly surpising that hack propagandists who masquerade as journalists started to scribble about how Putin's Russia was some hideous amalgam of both Hitlerite and Stalinist tyranny rolled into one in it's contempt for the rights of small nations.
Something that found it's expression back in 1939 with the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Then Hitler and Stalin agreed to carve up and absorb a broad swathe of territories in Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea, the legacy of which was only ended with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
It is entirely fitting that a Declaration of the European Parliament on the proclaimed 23 August as a European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. Both totalitarian empires subjected many in the lands they ruled to 'resettlement' and concentration camps.
Yet what the Soviet Union did to the Baltic Republics, Eastern Poland and Bessarabia ( now Moldova ), in trying to eradicate the intelligensia and 'unreliable elements', should not disguise the fact that many Romanian and Baltic elites collaborated with the Nazis after Hitler invaded the Soviet occupied territories in 1941.
The exception was Poland. It had the unique and ghastly fate of being subject both to Nazi and Soviet attempts to destroy it no sooner than Hitler and Stalin had invaded in accordance with the pact.
Here, where the destruction of the Polish ruling elite and intelligensia was clear from the outset, collaboration with either the Nazis or the Soviets was never a moral nor a tactical possibility.
However, unlike Poland most of the Eastern borderlands between Germany and the former Soviet Union are still at the centre of a geopolitical struggle for influence, this time between NATO and Russia, there has a been a lot of 'revisionism' by political elites trying to justify anti-Russian politics.
Unfortunately, just as many in the West were credulous about Stalin's Soviet Union in being a beacon of Enlightenment humanism or at least the home of international socialism, so too have the Baltic States and Georgia been held up as beacons of market freedom and liberty.
Which is precisely why journalists like James Marson writes on the 70th anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet Pact that it,
'comes at a time when a war over history – particularly Stalin's legacy – is defining many political arguments across the former Soviet Union. A number of politicians from the former Soviet bloc hold up the pact as an example of how the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were similar in their cynical, rapacious and murderous behaviour towards their neighbours.
Marson seems to think that Russia's inability to discuss its Stalinist past is due to the fact that it wants to use the 'anti-fascist' struggle during World War Two to legitimise current policies. There is some truth in that and far more so in Belarus.
However, Marson wants to play the old Stalinist trick of 'look over there': in other words only the Russian government uses history as propaganda.
The pact is rather a sticky topic in Russia, where the defeat of the "fascists" remains ideologically valuable to the current leadership; a recent attempt to rehabilitate the agreement dovetails neatly with current Kremlin thinking on its right to a sphere of influence.
Firstly, despite propaganda to the contrary, NATO does aspire to a 'sphere on influence' It just refuses to refer to it as that because NATO is not an Empire but a collection of free states that volunteer to be part of NATO unlike former members of the Warsaw Pact.
For the main purpose of expanding NATO power into Eastern Europe follows Sir Halford MacKinder's observation made at the height of British Imperial power at the turn of the 20th century
Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
who rules the World-Island controls the world."
Central Asia contains most of the world's as yet unexplored and untapped oil and gas, something that Zbigniew Brzezinski has emphasised, in works such as The Grand Chessboard ( 1997), is the key towards preserving US hegemony into the 21st Century.
Hence the level of involvement in the internal affairs of states like Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia to get the politicians colationed who will fulfil the agenda of the Western states if not necessarily the interests of their own people.
Secondly, Marson thinks it's appropriate to put 'fascists' like this in scare quotes indicates an evasion. After all, Nazi Germany was 'fascist' and so too were many of those who joined Hitler in the invasion of the Soviet Union such as Antonescu's Romanian forces.
Whilst its true that 'fascist' has often acted as a term to be flung at any political opponent that is disliked, not least by the Soviet Union and its Communist supporters, the same has become increasingly true of 'Stalinist'.
Marson intentionally conflates two problems here.
The first is the denial coming from many sections of the Western Left with regards the crimes of Stalin. The second the use to which Putin and Medvedev are putting the 'anti-fascist' struggle of World War Two to justify interfering in the affairs of ex-Soviet states.
What he does not mention is that the Kremlin is responding to the propaganda which crudely equates Putin with Stalin and his government as trying to revive Russian-cum-Soviet Imperialism with regards states like Georgia which in last Augusts' war received the unconditional support of the USA and Britain.
As well as a whole chorus of opinion from David Clarke, Denis MacShane, Luke Harding, Timothy Garton Ash, and, of course, Marson.
Not least because Marson himself holds to this vulgarised propaganda-as-history myth no less than those neoconservatives who tried to make absurd comparisons between Russia's incursion into Georgia and Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938.
That was Brzezinski's line at the time in an interview with Die Welt. Clearly, the comparison was fake because Czecoslavakia hadn't actually fired rockets on to Germany and because Putin's Russia is not some neo-totalitarian threat bent on expansionism.
Yet such propaganda is handy if Western politicians want to project their own expansionist ambitions through NATO on to Russia. The democratic socialist George Orwell who did so much to draw attention to the crimes of Stalin and of the progressive intelligensia's desire to 'kiss his bum' had a word for that; he called it 'doublethink'.
When Brzezinski later corrected himself to mean 'the tactics' used by Russia to try and destroy Georgia's territorial integrity by handing out passports to the South Ossetians he seems unaware that Romania was doing exclty the same with regards Moldova.
The reason for the doublethink is that NATO selflessly wants to advance freedom and so states on our side are allowed to be a rabidly nationalistic as they want. Whether in trying to revive the war time reputation of the Greater Romanian dictator Antonescu or whether it's Latvian politicians commemorating the Waffen SS.
This is the point. Russia has a sphere on interest in the ex-Soviet republics no less than the USA and it's NATO partners who want to project their strategic power deep into Central Asia through the Eastern Europe and 'the Eurasian Balkans' i.e the Caucasus.
If anything that NATO drive to control the oil and gas and the pipeline routes reflects the logic underlying Hitler's Drang Nach Osten and to control Central Asian oil and gas by supporting far-right nationalist regimes with a grudge against Russia to act as dependable client states.
Russia has reacted to that by countering the idea that the Baltic far-right nationalists wartime support for Hitler was part of a crusade against Bolshevism by drawing on it's defeat of Nazi Germany as a righteous one and that Western sponsored clients are sympathetic to Nazism.
Those in Estonia like the ex-prime minister, revisionist historian and Milton Friedman prize-winner, Mart Laar who sought to destroy all monuments commemorating the Soviet armies victory over Nazi Germany such as the Bronze Statue in Tallinn.
Laar acts as a US media publicist for Mikheil Saakashvili whose nationalist rhetoric against Russia as a 'race of barbarians' has been matched by a Soviet style revision of history in Georgia's Museum's of 'Russian occupation'.
Such propaganda contains a curious omission of the fact that Stalin, Beria and Ordzhonikidze were actually Georgians and that the current borders of Georgia that the West has sought to defend were actually established by Stalin's Soviet Union and not by 'the Russians'.
Yet the history has to be rewritten to fulfil the geopolitical needs of the leaders in calling for ever more extensive US involvement in the project of NATO expansion.
Something that Yushchenko has been demanding vociferously whilst using the Ukrainian Terror famine of the 1930s to mendaciously claim that the 'Holomodor' was a deliberate attempt by Russia to ethnically cleanse Ukrainians and dampen its desire for independence.
Again those who remember the history of the Soviet Union willl know that the Terror Famine was orchestrated by a transnational party and its functionaries who came from all over what had been the former Tsarist Empire reborn under a new militant revolutionary ideology.
It involved Ukrainian Communist Party apparatchniks like Krushchev and affected Russophone Ukrainians just as much as it did those who spoke only Ukrainian.
The experiment was,as Marson concedes, part of a 'class war' against the Kulaks but it was not a Russian nationalist imposition as Yushchenko is trying to claim. The Soviet leadership regarded all Soviet citizens as equal in being the raw material for their Utopian experiment on humanity.
In that sense unlike Nazi Germany they were very undiscriminating on a racial basis.
None of this stops Marson from trying to claim that Medvedev's attempt to restrict access to the Russian archives and set up a 'history commission' is nothing more than a 'response' to Yushchenko's brave attempt to reveal the truth about Ukraine's subjugation.
A crucial Russian method of keeping Ukraine under its wing is to inhibit the formation of a strong Ukrainian national identity by maintaining control over a crucial nation-building tool: history.
Medvedev cannot possibly prevent Ukrainian and Western historians writing about the Terror Famine. Most of the facts are already known about it and those that are not could hardly disprove the consensus of Western historians that the Terror Famine was class warfare not racial and not certainly not nationalist in intent.
Stalin, having been Lenin's Commissar for the Nationalities after the Revolution, wanted to eradicate the supposedly nationalist elites in all the Soviet Republics that could possibly offer resistance. It was colluded in by Party members of all nationalities who wanted to forge a new Soviet elite.
Marson goes on to claim,
Indeed, its obsessive focus on history is a tacit admission that it has little positive to offer Ukraine in the future.
This statement is idiotic.Medvedev is at once trying to suppress people understanding history in Ukraine and at the same time has an obsession with controlling it which is, of course, impossible because Ukraine is an independent state.
Those who remember how Yugoslavia was destroyed after 1990 will remember how such a selective history based on a victimhood narrative was used to perpetuate such nationalism created inter ethnic hatred and conflict.
It was as Misha Glenny correctly asserts in his The Fall of Yugoslavia purposely fomented by Communist politicians like Tujdman and Milosevic who turned to nationalism to secure their power base when faced with the economic downturn of the early 1990s.
The signs are ominous in Ukraine. Concurrent with Yushchenko's revival of nationalism is the slumping of his popularity ratings as the impact of US style neoliberal reforms has served to exacerbate the impact of the global recession.
Yet Marson seems only monomaniacally obsessed with what Russia is doing is a 'response' to Yushchenko.
Just as Western journalists kept repeating that Russia 'attacked' Georgia and not that Georgia 'attacked' South Ossetia and which, like Kosovo, wanted independence but was not recognised because the successionist precedent was not itself recognised.
Marson is also deeply ignorant about the nature of Ukrainian nationalism, as if Ukraine was only a victim nation not one with the partisans of UPA who were rampant ethnic cleansers, murdering hundreds of thousands of Poles in what's now Western Ukraine.
Nor about how the mass murder of Jews was justified by the myth of Jewish Communism which is still held by many Ukrainians extreme nationalists in Western Ukraine like L'viv where Yushchenko derives most of his support
Before Marson pontificates about Russian Imperialism he needs to understand that Eastern European nationalism justified by the hatred of Communism has an unpleasant history too and that often the West is not backing not moderate patriotic democrats.