Edition: Lublin 2015
Pierre Nora once called memory laws a ‘purely French legislative sport’. In Russia and Ukraine, the ‘French sport’ has found many fans. Ukraine, that became the centre of Eastern European memory wars in the aftermath of the Orange revolution of 2004, is probably the world leader in the ‘French sport’. Over the last twenty five years, more than ninety drafts of laws concerning historical memory have been presented to the Ukrainian parliament and about 10 have been adopted. The number of projects shows the degree to which a political class is eager to establish the ‘truth of the past’ by means of law. In Russia, about thirty bills regarding historical memory were tabled in the Parliament since 1990 and about eight have become laws. The article examines these projects in the context of the politics of memory in Russia and Ukraine as well as the memory wars between the two countries. This analysis shows that the expansion of memory laws in Eastern Europe is gradually changing their nature. Initially conceived as a means of maintaining peace, memory laws have tended to become one of the preferred instruments of the ‘memory wars’ within and between European countries.