IN OTHER WORDS: Revisionist

Anyone who rejects linear theories of history in favour of cycles had to feel vindicated last week after Russia’s Supreme Court rehabilitated Czar Nicholas II and his family, declaring that they were victims of “groundless” political repression when they were murdered, at Lenin’s behest, in 1918. During the Soviet interregnum, schoolchildren were taught that the last czar of all the Russias was a criminal culpable for all of Russia’s ills and injustices. The notion that he and the other Romanovs executed along with him could one day be officially deemed victims of the Bolshevik terror — well, for 90 years the kindest thing to be said about such a notion was that it was delusional.

At present, however, all the old villains and bugaboos of the Bolsheviks’ political mythology are being celebrated as eternal verities of Mother Russia. Pure, undiluted patriotism is back. The most astonishing aspect of the Romanovs’ rehabilitation is the implicit logic of the court’s ruling. If the last czar was an innocent victim of an act of political repression, then Lenin — that ultimate hero of the Soviet Union — was nothing but a murderous thug. Yet Lenin still reposes in his mausoleum in Red Square. The day he is banished from that sainted spot will be the day that history has come full circle.