centenary of the 1917 Revolution in Russia; commemoration; the infrastructure of collective memory; mnemonic actors; political use of the past; memory politics; politics of memory; symbolic politics; historical narrative.
The article analyzes practices of public commemoration of the centenary of the February and October revolutions in Russia. It reconstructs the symbolic strategies and historical narratives of the key mnemonic actors – the ruling elite, the Communists, the Russian Orthodox Church, the “Conservatives”, the “Liberals” etc. The analysis is based on the recent texts of politicians and public intellectuals from these groups. The research combines an analysis of discourses and commemorative practices. A commemoration of a historical event is considered as the political process, the outcome of which depends on interaction of mnemonic actors who 1) have certain political aims and take particular position against the other actors, 2) selectively use the common repertoire of symbolic resources and take part in its transformation. By the results of analysis, the commemoration of the centenary of the revolution(s) takes part in the context of a fragmented memory regime. This conclusion is based not only on significant discrepancy between the competing narratives, but also on the presence of several mnemonic warriors who use this symbolic chance for promotion of their own political agenda and seek to delegitimize their opponents. According to surveys, the same discrepancy about the revolution is revealed in the public opinion. However, the official project to celebrate “conciliation and concord” of the Reds and the Whites is facilitated by the fact that almost all major mnemonic actors (with exception of the Yabloko Party) share the “patriotic” and anti-Western discourse of the incumbent elite. Besides, the authority has as an influential ally: the Russian Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, in the context of the fragmented memory regime oppositional actors can impede a public demonstration of “conciliation and concord” even without large resources. This suggestion is well supported by the case of local opposition to a construction of the memorial to Conciliation in Crimea, which was designed as a central event of the official commemoration.