Anne Applebaum / The Atlantic »

Dictators distort the past because they want to use it. Putin certainly wants to use the past to stay in power. If Russians are nostalgic for their old dictatorship, then they have less reason to push back against the new one. He may also want to use the past to give legitimacy to violence—Russians who have no awareness of what Moscow did to Ukraine in the past will feel no sense of guilt about repeating old patterns of aggression. History does contain lessons, and here is one of them: If Putin plans to turn his falsely heroic vision of Russia’s past into a justification for another war in the present, he won’t be the first autocrat to do so.