"Erased from existence."
Remember that line from Back to the Future? When Doc Brown looks at the photo of Marty's suddenly headless brother?
It seems Vladimir Putin may have been inspired to do a little meddling with history of his own. But in this real-life scenario, he's more like Biff Tannen, trying to create an alternate timeline in which Russia isn't haunted by the legacy of Joseph Stalin, arguably the most brutal dictator in history.
Critics say president Vladimir Putin is systematically glossing over dark parts of the old Soviet Union and playing up things like its triumph in World War II (never mind that Uncle Sam did most of the heavy lifting on that one).
Russian historians are concerned that government authorities are destroying records to downplay the crimes of the Stalin era. Police recently destroyed the archive records of a victim of one of Stalin's purges.
Some of the harshest camps in Stalin's gulag system were located in the eastern region of Magadan. When a Russian researcher inquired about some of the destroyed archives, police in that region confirmed that a government order from 2014 mandated that police destroy prisoner registration cards that are over 80 years old.
Millions of Russians were killed by Stalin, or sent to his forced labor camps. Those who were fortunate enough to eventually be released had their personal details recorded on government registration cards that were meant to be permanent.
These are fascinating and dangerous times for truth.
This year alone, hundreds of Russians have inquired with Moscow's Gulag History Museum (that's gotta make for a great weekend outing) for information about relatives who were victims of Stalin's purges.
Historians have asked the Kremlin's human rights commissioner to launch an official investigation into these destroyed records. I'm sure Russia's "human rights commissioner" will jump right on that request.
These are fascinating and dangerous times for truth. Whether it's literally erasing historical evidence like this in Russia, or the deceptive cherry-picking of history by progressives in the U.S., or the frightening "deep fakes" technology that is poised to falsify history – we must do our homework and know the facts. Because there are those in power, and those who aspire to power, who stand to benefit from keeping people in the dark.