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Article

«Император осматривал город»: Сюрреалистический социализм и политика памяти

This article discusses certain regional specialists and preservationists of historical and cultural monuments during the Brezhnev era who were, at first, entirely loyal to official Soviet policy but came to engage in a form of civic engagement that undermined it. There arose a regional politics of memory that was an alternative to the state version and became embodied in local commemorative practices, as a result of which collective memory retained even that which the Soviet political elite would have preferred to expunge. Through the example of the struggle between the local activists of the city Sverdlovsk to preserve the Ipatiev House—where Nicholas II and the rest of his household were executed in 1918—and to preserve the memory of this historic event after the house’s demolition, the author shows how local social mechanisms of commemoration directly contradicted the policies of central authorities, and the initiatives of historic preservationists became aligned, to the surprise of the activists themselves, with the activities of monarchists among the Soviet elite.