My friend Sergey Baimukhametov is a founding father. That is how, somehow objectively and at the same time casually, a word that already smacks of bronze, looks and sounds.
Specifically, he was the founder of a genre more or less known today as historical journalism. Of course, this kind of creativity existed and lived earlier in the nature of Russian literature. But only historical investigations, articles and essays by Sergey Baimukhametov, like a fire that have spread over the past twenty years in the information space, made the genre generally known.
But the genre itself is only a method and a consequence.
On the whole, Sergey Baimukhametov initiated the mass dissemination of a new concept of the history of Medieval Russia and, in particular, the role and significance of Alexander Nevsky.
I am talking about "mass distribution", because in academic circles, views similar to his understanding also existed, but a ban was actually imposed on their publication. And only through the efforts of an independent researcher, free from imposed ideological dogmas, it was possible to overcome it. I affirm this with conviction, because a lot was happening before my eyes, and even with some of my participation.
In the late 1990s, following Lev Gushchin, I left the fading, legendary Ogonyok during the perestroika years. Gushchin became the editor-in-chief of Literaturnaya Gazeta, I became the editor-in-chief of the Society notebook, and our author Sergey Baimukhametov became a freelance columnist.
Once Serezha and I got to talking about an interview with Yuri Afanasyev in Obshchaya Gazeta. We greatly appreciated this man, one of the democratic leaders of perestroika and glasnost, the author of the wording that has gone down in modern history: "Aggressively obedient majority." In Obshchaya Gazeta, he spoke as a historian, and argued:
“Alexander Nevsky was the first of the Russian grand dukes who, instead of resisting the Tatars, went to direct cooperation with them. He punished the Russians - including Novgorodians - for disobeying the conquerors, in a way that the Mongols never dreamed of (he cut their noses and cut off ears, and cut off their heads and impaled them)... He told the Tatars: I will collect tributes for you more than you can. But for that, help me beat up my neighbors. They helped and beat me. And they gave him the title of Grand Duke..."
“Well, Soloviyov and Klyuchevsky also wrote very restrainedly about Alexander Nevsky”, - Sergey said. - Imagine, in the "Course of Russian History" of Klyuchevsky, he is mentioned only fifteen times - only fifteen lines. And Western historians did not hesitate. Their interpretations have now been picked up by ours. Now Nevsky is directly called a traitor to the Russian land. That's how they turned everything upside down!"
But I, an ignorant person, was inclined to trust Afanasyev - after all, he is a doctor of historical sciences! Then Sergey said: “Sasha, you and me, people who write, are tiring to reason orally. I'd better bring you the text".
And the next day he gave me six pages entitled "The Prince's Cross". It was clear from them that they were written a long time ago, as they say, “on the table”, without expecting to be published in the near future. With the hope that someday, maybe...
When Sergey reappeared in the editorial office, I said: "We decided to publish".
"What does it mean to "print"?" He asked, puzzled. - Sasha, this is absolutely impassable! In 1988, Lev Gumilyov himself admitted: I am afraid to say on the pages of a newspaper with a million circulation that Alexander Nevsky was the named son of Khan Batu, I am afraid how our people, who have been brought up on the theory of "yoke" for centuries, will perceive this. Genius - he was afraid! I'm not a genius. And you and Gushchin are not kamikaze. "
“But now it's still 99, not 88,” I objected.
"The Prince's Cross" was published in the Literaturnaya Gazeta in the summer of 1999. Reprints began immediately. Including thieves, to astonishing impudence or naivety, some people put their names and surnames under the text of Baimukhametov. Then "Litgazeta" published Sergey's investigative essays "There was no Varangian call! Refutation of "The Tale of Bygone Years", "Prince's Cross-2". “The Russian Orthodox Church created the Russian state”, “A terrible slaughter on Lipitsa”... Other newspapers published “The Secret of the Kulikov Field”, “The Detective of 1382”, “The Fate of Oleg Ryazansky”, “The Secret of Dmitry Donskoy's Testament”, “Did Boris Godunov kill Tsarevich Dmitry?" and other.
The publishers are interested. And the "completely hopeless business" became a reality. Since 2005, his books of historical investigations have been published regularly. A lot that is now on the Web about Alexander Nevsky, about the alliance of Russia and the Horde, about the Russian Middle Ages in general - these are either direct reprints, often without reference to the author, or somehow, slightly rewritten variations from Sergey's works.
In 2009, under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, the All-Russian Orthodox Conference "The Life of the Holy Blessed Prince Alexander Nevsky as an Example of Historical Optimism" was held. With video broadcast to Pereslavl-Zalessky, Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod and St. Petersburg. Archimandrite Zosima delivered a report “Saint Alexander Nevsky as a People's Hero”. I quote the very first words of the report:
“Here in front of me is an article by Sergey Baimukhametov“ The Prince's Cross. Was Alexander Nevsky a traitor to the Russian land? " In his article, Sergey Baimukhametov poses the most difficult questions that relate to such difficult and sometimes polarized moments in the history of Russia and our Russian Orthodox Church. "
And further - in essence and in the text of Sergey.
And 8 years later, on March 14, 2017, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at the first meeting of the Organizing Committee for the preparation of the 800th anniversary of Alexander Nevsky said:
“The policy of Alexander Nevsky did not meet with full understanding in Russia, primarily in Novgorod... However, despite the fact that Alexander did not always receive the support of his own people, he took wise and courageous steps that allowed him to save the country from complete ruin... Alexander Nevsky managed to build such relations with the Horde, which ensured the preservation of Russia... As a result, Russia did not lose its identity, it did not lose its faith, did not even lose its state structure. And if the crusaders came to our land, then Russia as a historical, cultural, spiritual, religious phenomenon would cease to exist".
The meaning of these words of the Patriarch is difficult to fully appreciate. This is a turn in the official secular and official church historiography of Medieval Russia.
Alexander Nevsky is a key figure in Russian history and Russian self-awareness. Symbol. After all, for centuries the people were brought up on the theory of "yoke", instilling hatred for the "adversaries-Tatars". And keeping silent about the fact that it was the alliance of Russia and the Horde that saved Russia from a crusade from the West, that the enmity of the Russian princes, who are always at war with each other, would end, in Karamzin's opinion, “the destruction of our fatherland”; keeping silent about the fact that Alexander Nevsky created a single Russian state in alliance with the Horde and the Russian Orthodox Church. To restore its true role and significance means to revise the history of the Middle Ages.
Patriarch Kirill was the first of the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church to decide on such an act. Only subsequent generations will fully appreciate it. The comprehension of history is a process extended in time, the consciousness of the people does not change in one day. One cannot but pay tribute to the courage of His Holiness the Patriarch, who took the decisive step. This is a social feat.
The new, significantly expanded edition of Sergey Baimukhametov's book "The Lie and Truth of Russian History" consists of two parts. Part one came out - with the subtitle "From the Varangians to the Empire". The lines of the annotation speak for themselves: "The vocation of the Varangians" is a myth for establishing the power of the Rurikovichs. Alexander Nevsky is the named son of Khan Batu. How "Tatar-Mongols" liberated the Holy Sepulcher. Peter the First is the founder of Asiaticism in Russia. Potemkin - the builder of the Empire"...
The publishing house "Veche" is preparing (not to jinx it) the second book - with the subtitle "From the Empire to the XXI century". In fact, there will be a two-volume edition "The Lie and the Truth of Russian History" from the Varangians to the present day.