Disinfo: WWII archives are open in Russia, whereas in Western countries they are kept secret and revisionism is promoted


The Russian president published an article in The National Interest and Rossiyskaya Gazeta. He notes again and again, that contemporary Russia embraces its history as a whole, with its good and bad sides, while the Western archives remain secret and revisionism spreads.


Recurrent narrative about the Western countries trying to rewrite history to serve a political agenda, whereas Russia would favour historical truth without second thought.

Archives of WWII are not secret in western countries. Historians can have access to them, and even general public. In France, for instance, since the opinion was published by RT France, all archives related to WWII are open without any pre-approval since the decree opening archives relating to the Second World War of 24.12.2015. Before archives were accessible with derogation since 1997, 1998 (national Archives) and 2002 (district Archives). A vast program of declassification of Secret Defence archives was initiated.

In Russia president Putin announced on January 15th 2020 a vast program to make accessible documents of archives. Since May 2020, the first part of those archive are visible on the presidential library.

However, in today Russia it can be dangerous to publicly share or like archive documents or historical facts. In 2018 the international human right association Agora published a report about people who were prosecuted. They included 100 cases of prosecutions and prohibitions under the pretext of protecting against falsification of history. Over the previous ten years, lawyers have recorded 17 criminal cases (16 defendants were found guilty), 18 administrative cases, 41 cases of the prohibition of books and online publications and their inclusion in the list of extremist materials, as well as examples of refusals to provide archival materials.

In conclusion, it cannot be said that archives are open in Russia and closed in western countries and

To know more about the untruths conveyed by the article published in the National Interest and Rossiyskaya Gazeta you can read 5 examples.


  • Reported in: Issue 202
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 19/06/2020
  • Language/target audience: French, English
  • Country: Russia, France
  • Keywords: West, Historical revisionism, WWII, Vladimir Putin


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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USSR did its utmost to create anti-Hitler coalition, the West left it to deal with Nazi Germany alone

The Munich Agreement served as a “trigger” and made World War II inevitable. The Munich Agreement showed to the Soviet Union that Western countries would deal with security issues without taking its interests into account.  In fact, they could even create an anti-Soviet front, if needed. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union did its utmost to use every chance of creating an anti-Hitler coalition, despite the double-dealing on the part of Western countries.  However, the Soviet leadership saw how attempts were made to leave the Soviet Union alone to deal with Germany and its allies. Bearing in mind this real threat, Soviet leaders sought to buy precious time needed to strengthen the country’s defences.


This message is part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism which attempts  to portray Russia's role in World War II as non-aggressive and to blame the West for the failure to create an anti-Nazi coalition with the Soviet Union. This narrative essentially blames the West for the outbreak of World War II, and seeks to relativise and erode the disastrous historical role of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact (the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union) by stating that other countries signed various international agreements with Adolf Hitler throughout the 1930s, and to argue that it was the Munich Agreement that triggered WWII.

The article’s claim that the failure to create an anti-Nazi alliance between Western powers and the Soviet Union in the late 1930s is entirely the West’s fault  is not true.  This failure was due to deep mutual mistrust between  Western democracies  and the Soviet Union.  On the one hand, mass terror inside the Soviet Union made many European policy-makers wary of entering into an alliance with Moscow, especially because thousands  of experienced Soviet military officers were imprisoned or executed  during this purge. On the other hand, Stalin perceived that Western powers, especially after the Munich Agreement,  looked with favour on Germany’s eastward expansion. Furthermore, he played  a “double game”, negotiating the creation of  an anti-Nazi alliance with France and the UK,  and at the same time discussing  with Berlin a possibile Soviet-Nazi rapproachment.

From a legal point of view, Crimea has always been Russian

Firstly, Crimea has always been ours, even from the legal point of view. Secondly, we did not get it – the people living in Crimea decided to reunite with Russia, and this is the highest degree of manifestation of democracy.

When the Soviet Union was created, the right of withdrawal was stipulated in the treaty. Since the procedure of withdrawal was not specified, the question arises: if this or that republic became part of the Soviet Union, got a huge amount of Russian lands, traditional Russian historical territories, and then suddenly decided to leave this union. Let it at least leave with what she came. And not to carry away gifts received from the Russian people with it.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Crimea is a part of Ukraine and was illegally annexed by Russia. In 2014, Russian troops obliged the parliament of Crimea to organise a referendum, which was illegitimate under international law, and then formally annexed the peninsula and brought it under Russian territorial control. The annexation has been condemned by the UNGA (see the resolution A/RES/68/262 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine).

The entry of Baltic states into the USSR was consistent with international and state law

In the fall of 1939, solving its military-strategic, defensive tasks, the Soviet Union began the process of incorporating Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Their entry into the USSR was implemented on a contractual basis, with the consent of the elected authorities. This was consistent with international and state law of the time. The Baltic republics within the USSR retained their government, language, and had representation in Soviet higher state structures.


This claim uses historical revisionism to reinforce common pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about WWII and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, a recurring attempt to justify Soviet actions.

On 23 August 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a non-aggression (Molotov-Ribbentrop) pact whose secret protocols divided the territories belonging to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Romania into Soviet and Nazi spheres of influence. The Baltic States were not beneficiaries of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Like other countries mentioned in the pact, they lost their independence and territories. Soviet occupation of the Baltic States lasted for 50 years, and resulted in mass deportations and repressions against local populations.