The revolution Putin wants to ignore

Story highlights

  • Emily Parker: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, a defining event of the 20th century.
  • Russia's President Putin is refraining from celebrating the revolution, writes Emily Parker
  • But Project 1917, which was founded to create social media forums about the revolution, is allowing Russians to celebrate it, she writes

Emily Parker is the author of "Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices From the Internet Underground" and a former member of the Policy Planning staff at the US State Department. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin would rather ignore the Russian revolution, which marks its 100th anniversary this year. But in the Internet age, it's impossible to erase history. Ordinary Russians are commemorating the revolution on social media, the last platform for free expression in Russia.

Why is Putin worried about something that happened 100 years ago? For starters, Russia's strongman does not want to draw attention to a popular uprising that toppled an empire.
    The Russian revolution was, in fact, two revolutions. The February Revolution of 1917 bought down Czar Nicholas II and ushered in a period of liberal reforms. Months later, in what is known as the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks overthrew the provisional government. The October Revolution led to years of civil war and ultimately, to the creation of the Soviet Union. (The 100th anniversary of the "October revolution" actually occurs in November due to the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars.)
      The Russian Revolution was one of the defining events of the 20th century. Yet Putin reportedly told his advisers that it would be unnecessary to commemorate the anniversary. There was no national holiday to mark the beginning of the uprising. Russian television followed the Kremlin's lead in playing down the event.
      Emily Parker