Turkish and Russian memory laws in comparative perspective

The proposed paper analyses and compares two well-known memory laws: Article 301 from the Turkish Penal Code and Article 354.1 from the Russian Penal Code. Turkey and Russia are pursuing a memory policy of contestation of two widely accepted facts about the past: the Armenian genocide and World War II. The two provisions have several similarities. Most importantly, memory laws usually protect memories of the victims of state-sponsored crimes (such as Holocaust denial laws), but Article 301 and Article 354.1 ‘protect’ the memory of undemocratic regimes. The dominant narrative in both cases denies serious state sponsored atrocities, and both criminalize statements contradicting this narrative. Additionally, Article 301 and Article 354.1 are used to limit freedom of expression and censor criticism, and as such are in violation of rule of law norms. This is happening in similar political and social contexts, as both Turkey and Russia are undergoing comparable changes.