The official statement of the Russian Military Historical Society about the celebration in Bulgaria the 140th anniversary of liberation from the Ottoman yoke.
History is multivalued, one event can have countless interpretations. However, there are moments when it is impossible to let the noise of words prevail over the evidence of facts, to prevent from bowing the heads over the graves of those who disinterestedly gave their lives for high ideals.
Memory of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 is such an example. In those days the whole Russian society stood up for the protection of its Slav brothers - Orthodox Bulgarians, who were the victims of the most terrible crimes committed by the Ottoman Empire. These atrocities outraged the whole the European public, but it was Russia, that came to the defense not in words, but in deeds rendered assistance.
Whatever rises and falls have not experienced Russian-Bulgarian relations over the past 140 years, the fact of Bulgaria's liberation from the Ottoman yoke by the Russian Imperial Army can not be denied. And it is not forgotten exactly by the Bulgarian people, which preserve memory in the form of several hundred monuments in honor of our soldiers.
However, today the political situation interferes even in the sacred deed of perpetuating the memory of the heroes of the two fraternal Orthodox nations. It was characteristic of the Bulgarian President Rumen Radev’s speech on March 3 in Sofia on the occasion of the 140th anniversary the of the San Stefano Peace treaty signing.
The President did not say anything about the losses suffered by Russia, about the difficulties that Russian diplomats had to face at the Berlin Congress, when the whole Europe, which was not at war, started to share the successes of Russian arms. Having formally paid tribute to Russia, he emphasized that the soldiers of many peoples liberated the Bulgarian land: "Russians, Romanians, Finns, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Poles, Lithuanians, Serbs and Montenegrins".
No doubt, all of them served in the ranks of the Russian Imperial Army or were its allies. And this is our common memory, which binds our peoples. However, should this shade Russia's merit? It is clear that Bulgaria has chosen the European way of development, and therefore the president tries to give tribute to his "partners in the EU and NATO".
But is there insidious slyness and injustice towards our soldiers in such placement of accents? Or in regard to the Bulgarian militiamen, who defended Shipka side by side with them? Perhaps they would be surprised to learn that they were not soldiers of the Russian Imperial Army, but "Lithuanians, Poles or Ukrainians". Precisely in the unity of peoples Russia was and still remains strong. This unity allowed us to win then and liberate Bulgaria. To divide us into national apartments, as the Bulgarian president did, is fundamentally wrong.
The main thing is that Bulgarian politicians, leveling the Russian contribution to the liberation of Bulgaria, are contrary to their own people, their own historical memory.
Such equivocation provide the basis for a broader and more radical interpretation. For example, they open the way for marginal scientists who generally deny the role of Russia in the liberation of Bulgaria. The official statement of the Ukrainian embassy in Bulgaria is also indicative, in which unknown authors have made remarkable efforts to prove that almost to the entire Russian army was then staffed by Ukrainians (http://bulgaria.mfa.gov.ua/ua/press-center/news/63388-pressobshhenije-za-prinosa-na-ukrajna-i-ukraincite-v-osvobozhdenijeto-na-blgarija).
In the meantime, such statements cause only smile between grown-up educated people. However, if we do not pay attention to it, if we do not provide the younger generation with truthful information, in the nearest future we can get a distorted picture of our common heroic past.
It was Russia that 140 years ago brought freedom to Bulgaria – this is true, which Bulgarian politicians must clearly remember, which every Bulgarian schoolchild must learn. Historical memory cannot be used as a pawn for politics, serve as satisfaction of vanity for temporary leaders. Only then can it serve the goals of peoples’ rapprochement.