The excessive demonization of Stalin is a way, one of the ways of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia
–Vladimir Putin, interview to Oliver Stone in 2017
On May 15, 2018, it was announced to the press that the International Foundation “Democracy” (“Demokratiya”) was closed due to a lack of funds. This Foundation was established in 1993 on the initiative of Academician Aleksandr Yakovlev, ex-member of the Politburo of the Communist Party and the main ideologist of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Perestroika. The Foundation was in charge of revealing previously secret documents on the history of the Soviet Union. One of the main activities of the Foundation’s staff was the search for and publishing of documentation of repressions during Stalin’s regime and the activities of the CheKa-OGPU-NKVD-MGB-KGB. The materials found were published in the book series “Russia. XX Century” and an Almanac with the same name, “Russia. XX Century.” In total, about ninety volumes of newly declassified documents have been published.
Natalia Ushatskaya, President of the Foundation, explained the problem:
Unfortunately, we were not able to find permanent sources of financing. Now the Foundation is in a state of liquidation. We were already forced to refuse the authors who had planned to publish [their works] with us.
After the law on foreign agents was enacted in 2012, we were forced to abandon foreign funds. Of course, we did not want to be called agents. We sent applications for a presidential grant five times but did not receive it. Previously, the President Boris Yeltsin Fund helped us a lot, but recently they also cut grant programs.
The Foundation’s employees have not received any slary for the last six months, but the situation has become irreversible due to problems with renting the office. Ms. Ushatskaya continued: “In 1993, Boris Yeltsin ordered to provide the Foundation with an office at Malaya Gruzinskaya Street for 25 years. This period has expired, and our expenses have been increased since now we need to pay for the office. We can’t pay any longer and are forced to close the Foundation. “
President Yeltsin’s 1993 decision to provide the Foundation with the office also instructed “the government, ministries and departments, executive authorities of Moscow and St. Petersburg to render assistance to the International Foundation ‘Democracy’.” But clearly, in the current political environment of Russia, publications about the past of the state security services is not desirable.
Viktor Loshak, a Moscow journalist, raised rhetorical questions:
I knew Alexandr Nikolayevich well, “Uncle Sasha,” as we called him among ourselves, and I can imagine that he had foreseen this kind of difficulties for his fund, and for the truth of history, and, if broadly, for the thinking, feeling, willing freedom part of the country. […]
I do not believe that the “Democracy” Foundation cannot be saved. If the concept of democracy has taken roots in our country, why should the Foundation die?
In the meantime, the Foundation says: “Just visit 15, Malaya Gruzinskaya Street, and take copies of books.”
If the “Democracy” Foundation is not saved, historians of the Soviet Union will lose the main source of the published archival documentation of Stalin’s time, the series “Russia. XX Century.”
The database of numerous unique Soviet archival documents published by the Foundation on the Internet, is still available.
The situation with the illustrious 290-years old publishing house of the Russian Academy of Sciences “Nauka” (“Science”) becomes also critical–it is on the verge of bankruptcy and closure. The publication of academic journals has been transferred to the company MAIK owned by an American firm Pleiades Publishing that belongs to the businessman Alexander Shustorovich, who has a Russian background. According to Academician Aleksei Khokhlov, one of the main problems of the Nauka Publishing house has been the “archaic” organization of the printing process. During the last 10 years, the publishing house did not buy computers. It did not have its own software for preparing original layouts. But, what’s really at stake is the fate of the real estate of the publishing house in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the estimated value of which is about six billion rubles.