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CAMBRIDGE, England — Soviet ideology was always about the future. By contrast, today’s official Russian ideology seems to be focused squarely on the past.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s recent article for the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza — written to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland — expresses his determination to make 20th-century European history a major part of the Russian government’s business. That article reflects the deep, unresolved problems of Putin’s era: The inability to distinguish between the Soviet past and the Russian present; an unscrupulous mix of political conservatism and historical revisionism; and indifference, bordering on incomprehension, with regard to the key values of democracy.

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