On February 19, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed that it would be worth considering “unified Russian history textbooks” that show “respect to all pages of our past.” This announcement has been interpreted as patriotic propaganda or an attempt at re-writing the past to justify authoritarianism in the present. To be sure, we cannot overlook the clear intensification of patriotism under the Putin regime. Also, we cannot deny that Russian citizens’ protests against election fraud during 2011–12 led to Putin’s countermeasures, such as the creation of quasi-social historical organizations, advocacy for unified textbooks, and so on. These measures are clear examples of Putin’s historical politics, by which he means to use history arbitrarily for political purposes.
However, it is quite misleading to say that Putin has successfully ordered the history textbooks rewritten to strengthen his own rule. In fact, we see three types of undercurrent concerning the policy on unified history textbooks. First, a group of young politicians with patriotic views advocated the unification of textbooks in response to neighboring countries’ historical politics. Cultural Minister Vladimir Medinsky is a typical example of this group. Second, academic historians such as Aleksandr Chubaryan, director of the Institute of World History, sought to build a basic consensus on historical outlook among historians and people within Russia. Third, there were some liberal groups who opposed any kind of forced textbook unification by the government.
Putin monitored these undercurrents, adapting his historical politics as necessary, and avoided dire conflicts between the government and any of these groups. In the end, the “historical-cultural standard” was created, which every textbook must follow. The standard, however, is very general and loose. Therefore, two history textbooks with somewhat different viewpoints were authorized by the education ministry.
One characteristic of Putin’s method of governance is the adoption of halfway solutions to disputed issues. They often fail to solve conflicts between groups, and sometimes even preserve them. In this sense, conflicts over historical politics, including those regarding history textbooks, will continue in the future.
To deal effectively with global security issues and the changing security environment, how to build and develop effective national security policies has been an important issue today. In this context, the function of the National Security Council (NSC) has been focused on, though there are some other decision making bodies, because of its ability that would solve the hard political decisions from cross-departmental perspective. According to the prior researches (Vendil-Pallin 2001, Hyodo 2004; 2009; 2012, White 2008), under the Putin regime (May 2000–) the Russian Security Council has enlarged its function and started to play the more important role of decision-making process in contrast to the Yeltsin era. This trend is going to continue into the Tandem (under the Medvedev administration from 2008–2012) and the Second Putin government (May 2012–).
At the same time (May 2000–), to build “vertical power”, President Putin has started several federal reforms, such as series of legislative amendments which changed the formation of the Upper House of the Russian Parliament, the creation of “federal districts”, and the appointments of plenipotentiary representative of the President of the Russian Federation in a federal district. Remarkably every representative was mainly a person from the “Power Ministry” or “Saint-Petersburg” and also holds the status of Russian Security Council membership.
Previous works are not enough to examine the enlarged function of the Russian Security Council in the political reforms of the Putin era. This study looks into the role of Russian Security Council in Putin’s centralization like building “vertical power” and aims to provide a viewpoint for present state analysis on the Russian politics. As with every NSC in the world, the Russian Security Council is also an advanced secret organ. Thus, this study points out the personnel policies for the members of the Security Council and representatives in every federal district by analyzing public information such as legal documents (Presidential Decree and Federal Law).
Reflected on the legislation of the new federal law on Security on December 28 2010, President Medvedev signed a presidential decree on the revised Regulation of the Russian Security Council. The new Regulation not only tightened its control power to the other state organs, but systematized local meetings held in every federal district, in which the secretary of the Security Council, presidential represent who covers the district, and federal and regional officials participate. In the meeting, the secretary of the Russian Security Council N.P. Patrushev, who assisted Putin for many years from when they worked together at the control division of the Presidential office, plays an important role in “realizing” the state program at the regional level.
This paper concludes that the main mission of the Russian Security Council
includes not only planning the national security policies or military affairs, but coordinating (or controlling) the relationship between federal government and regional leadership.