‘Historians are dangerous, and capable of turning everything topsyturvy. They have to be watched’: thus Khrushchev in 1956, at the time of de-Stalinization. The remark admirably sums up the place of history in the USSR. At the best of times, it is under supervision. The difference with other authoritarian regimes is not just that the Party, rather than the state, is the supervising agent; there is also the fact that the regime claims to incarnate the very movement of history, and to be history’s own interpreter. The leadership could never allow historians to produce versions different from its own: if they even try, the Party hurls anathema.