Nationalist Imaginings of the Russian Past: Anatolii Fomenko and the Rise of Alternative History in Post-Communist Russia

Article excerpt

Konstantin Sheiko in collaboration with Stephen Brown. Nationalist Imaginings of the Russian Past: Anatolii Fomenko and the Rise of Alternative History in Post-Communist Russia. Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society. Stuttgart: Ibidem- Verlag, 2009. 262 pp. Bibliography. $46.90, paper.

This book deals with Anatolii Fomenko' s historical work, and, particularly, with his construction of Russian history. The work originally appeared as a Ph.D. dissertation. The choice of subject is quite appropriate. Fomenko, practically unknown in the West, is extremely popular in Russia, and, from this perspective, he could be compared with Lev Gumilev, who enjoyed similar popularity in the late 1980s-early 1990s. The major point of Fomenko' s work is to prove that Russian history, as it is generally accepted by the majority of historians, is merely a falsification created by Russian historians of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Most of these scholars were of German origin and, according to Fomenko, they wanted to distort the relationship between Russians and the peoples of Asia.

One of Fomenko' s major theses is that all of these Asians and Russians lived in conditions of near symbiosis and that what is known as the "Mongol/Tatar Yoke" was actually a later invention of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German historians, who had an implicit political motive for creating these problems. In Fomenko' s interpretation, the Mongols/Tatars and Russians had never engaged in major conflicts and their relationship actually became a framework for the enormous empire that embodied most of Eurasia. Indeed, in Fomenko' s theory, since this grand empire had control even over Spain, it meant Columbus and later conquistadors were also agents of it. …