Mathematicians Anatoly Fomenko and Gleb Nosovsky at a press conference in Yaroslavl on November 3 announced the creation of the country's first museum of their theory of “New Chronology,” which scholars have recognized as pseudoscientific. According to her, Yaroslavl is nothing more than the "chronicle of Veliky Novgorod on Volkhov." The Yaroslavl community ambiguously perceived such a tourist attraction. This did not prevent the museum of conspiracy theological theory from attracting the investments of the “Orthodox oligarch”, and local authorities see the opening of the museum not as potential reputational damage, but as an opportunity to attract new tourists.
"New Chronology" in the context of "Central Russian Gardarika"
"New Chronology" is a theory of a radical revision of historical chronology, according to which the modern habitual chronology coincides with historical events only starting from the XVIII century, while in the Middle Ages there was a powerful empire of Russia-Horde, Tsar Peter I was replaced by foreigners, and Jesus Christ was born in Crimea . According to the creators of the theory, Fomenko and Nosovsky, Yaroslavl is actually the chronicle of Veliky Novgorod. Mathematicians came to this conclusion by studying the "inconsistencies" of the annals and the geography of modern Yaroslavl and Novgorod. The authors of the concept consider the official history until the 17th century to be falsified.
The “NH” theory was formed in the 1970–80s at the Moscow State University mechanics department from the ideas of Mikhail Postnikov, Doctor of Sciences. Since the early 1990s, its ideologists, mathematicians Fomenko and Nosovsky, began to publish books with their revision of official history. Their research of mathematics is published on the official website of the theory.
In 2018, in Yaroslavl, the forces of the regional tourism department created the official tourism brand of the territory: "Yaroslavia - Central Russian Gardarika." According to the plans of officials, in the next eight years they want to reach the result of 8 million tourists a year who should visit the region (with 3 and a half million tourists by the end of 2017). For this purpose, different methods turned out to be good.
The Yarnovs found out that the Yaroslavl government did not mind the appearance of the country's first private museum, the New Chronology ("HX"). According to the government’s official response, the initiator of the museum’s creation, Yaroslavl philanthropist Oleg Zharov did not turn to them for support. Nevertheless, its indirect traces can be traced.
Complementary stories about the imminent appearance of the NH museum were released by the regional television channels Pervy Yaroslavsky, City TV Channel and Vesti-Yaroslavl (VGTRK). None of the TV reporters mentioned the devastating criticism of "HX" by the scientific historical community. The Russian Academy of Sciences’s anti-pseudoscience commission repeatedly criticized this theory for their newsletters, and scientists back in 1999 created a collection site for publications called Antifomenism and published the book Antifomenko .
The building that can house the new museum
At the presentation of the museum project in the village of Vyatsky in January 2019, together with the sponsors , Deputy Chairman of the regional government Maxim Avdeev also attended . The director of the private historical and cultural complex, which is involved in the creation of the “HX” museum, said in the media that they want to “provide information to people” so that visitors themselves can draw conclusions.
At whose expense?
The head of the Invest-Voyage company, which is located in the building of the future NH museum, Oleg Zharov is a well-known businessman and philanthropist in the Yaroslavl region. He owns the historical and cultural complex "Vyatskoye" in the village of the same name, which, including his efforts, was included in the list of "the most beautiful villages in Russia."
According to an unofficial tradition, Oleg Zharov annually opens one private museum in the Yaroslavl region. More than a dozen museums are located in Vyatka itself, several have opened in Yaroslavl. Museum "NH" is preparing to stand on the same list as the "Museum of Russian Enterprise", the "Museum of Russian Fun", the kitchen machinery and the "Museum of Modern Art". In order to maintain the memory of Russian entrepreneurship in 2017 and 2018, his companies received several presidential grants. From the authorities of Yaroslavl, another company of Zharov "Norsk Residences" received more than 400 million rubles for the sale of apartments in the apartment complex of the same name.
Zharov partner in the company "Invest-Voyage" - a businessman from the Russian list of "Forbes" and a native of Yaroslavl region Vadim Yakunin , who owns the company "Protek" and a network of pharmacies "Rigla." Yakunin is the owner of several orders of the Russian Orthodox Church (Sergius of Radonezh and Daniil of Moscow of various degrees). His charitable foundation, St. Gregory the Theologian, organizes religious events abroad and is in partnership with the American Bradley Foundation.
In addition to philanthropic activities, Yakunin is a member of a number of public and expert councils under various federal authorities.
Is there a falsification of history in the New Chronology?
Yaroslavl journalists appealed to the phrase of Vladimir Putin about the inadmissibility of falsifications of history, referring to the government about the opening of the museum "NH". But in response to them, the official used words from the same speech by the president:
“You need to resist attempts to falsify history not with shouts and prohibitions, but with serious scientific activity,” wrote Olga Zubova, head of the mass communications department at the government of the Yaroslavl region , in response to Yarnostov’s reporters. In the answer from the government itself, attentive readers saw historical inaccuracies - for example, Zubova wrote:
"There is nothing wrong with the fact that today people are trying to invent a perpetual motion machine or prove Fermat's theorem. Doubt is one of the engines of science."
Fermat's theorem was proved back in 1994.
Attracting tourists or distorting perceptions?
In the Yaroslavl blog community, the news about the imminent appearance of a museum of pseudoscientific theory provoked outrage.
However, one of the well-known guides in the city on condition of anonymity told Radio Liberty that he approves the appearance of a new museum, because such an object will attract an additional flow of tourists:
"To pretend that apart from generally recognized facts, nothing exists at all, is also wrong," the guide said, fearing the colleagues in the workshop would rebuke.
The candidate of historical sciences Dmitry Poloznev wrote on his Facebook page that the museum community was perplexed by such news:
"What is to be done with this is not yet clear. It is not forbidden [...]. It is impossible not to see it, but to write about it is to raise attention."
The historian asked not to connect the appearance of the new museum with Yaroslavl scientists and museum workers.
According to Poloznev, it is possible to call the upcoming object a "museum" only with a stretch, due to the predominance of multimedia installations. Separately, he mentioned Oleg Zharov, the sponsor of the NH museum: “He has a lot of merits in preserving and reviving the cultural heritage; but in this case it’s his choice and the damage to his reputation.”
In a conversation with Radio Liberty, Poloznev noted that there are more worthy of mention private museums in the region, and they are supported by the regional department of culture, despite some shortcomings. The new museum, according to the expert, will attract new tourists to the city, but this will also have a "reverse side of the coin":
- I consider the museum "NH" a disgrace for the city. But by and large, he has nothing to oppose from the professional community. The main negative consequence is a distortion of perception. The word "museum" has a huge semantic baggage. Not without reason all tourist neoplasms call themselves museums, not attractions, but museums. Already a distortion. We already have a weak reflection in society about the past, on the topic of authenticity and reliability. And then there is such a "museum", no one will understand if it is private or not.
Dmitry Poloznev noted that the new museum will be located at the entrance to the popular tourist zone, so he can distract tourists from ordinary museums on the Volga embankment - the museum of the history of the city and the Metropolitan Chambers.
According to Poloznev, the sphere of museum business has not yet been regulated by the state, like many others, so there is room for development even in the direction of the "first museum of pseudoscience":
We have no established notions of what is good and what is bad in the field of museum business.” There is no museological scientific tradition to rely on. Legal criteria in the field of museum business are very weak and undeveloped. Maybe it’s even good, but now they want to formalize everything that moves.
Who else can dedicate a museum in Yaroslavl
Following the conspiracy theorists Fomenko and Nosovsky, Yaroslavl also visited the video blogger Mikhail Kamushkin, who leads the YouTube channel Historical Freethinker. He was looking for traces of the 18th-century global flood in the city, which, according to conspiracy theological theory, formed an alluvial layer of earth covering the first floor of old houses.
Specialists of the scientific site "Anthropogenesis.ru" devoted a separate analysis to the conspiratorial theory of the World Flood . The channels of the scientists of Anthropogenesis and the conspiracy theorist Kamushkin have approximately the same number of subscribers on YouTube - about 200 thousand.