Russia » Politics
Author`s name Michael Simpson

Myth of Political Repressions

October 30 is the Day of Political Repressions Victims, however the day and the issue itself are not that well-defined as it is traditionally believed
Russia has been deceived once again. October 30 is the Day of Political Repressions Victims, however the day and the issue itself are not that well-defined as it is traditionally believed. The number of innocent people suffered during the 1920-1950s.

It often happens in history that events that have actually happened are quickly forgotten, but it is astonishing that unbreakable myths may arise in an instant. This phenomenon is particularly evident on the threshold of centuries when younger generations believe only in what they are told. It is easy to believe when you are told that Nicolas II was murderous, Lenin was kind and Stalin - cruel. Why is it so? In fact, when a myth is being forged about the dark and bad past, it helps smooth over the present that is not less bad and observe somebody's mercantile interests. Let us at least think about what exactly we are told not to participate in spreading of slander destroying the society and ourselves.

On October 30, 1991, following adoption of the law "On rehabilitation of victims of political repressions", the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation Soviet Republic fixed the day to commemorate the victims of political repressions on October 30. The law on rehabilitation of victims is in fact another political club: even though the law rehabilitates some victims, it allows that others may still appear.

Chairman of the Presidential Commission for rehabilitation of victims of political repressions Alexander Yakovlev says that about 32 million people fell victims of political repressions, including 13 million during the Civil War. If we take into consideration the number of unborn children because of the repressions, we may say that starting from 1917 the Soviet Union lost over 100 million people. What is more, cases of some political figures should be revised because instead of the charges of espionage brought against the people they must be prosecuted for liquidation of people. Victims and their executioners were joined into one big group to demonstrate the giant scope of Stalin's criminal policy. It is known that the more insolent lie is, the more it is trusted. The statistics provides different figures of repressed victims: from 20 to 40 million people. Why is the number of prisoners so high? 40 million of prisoners equaled the population of the Soviet Ukraine and Belarus, or France's total population or the total urban population of the Soviet Union of that period. It was impossible to keep this enormous group of people in camps. A question arises then: why the officially reported number of political repressions victims is 4 million people?

In 1989, historian Viktor Zemskov executed the directive of the Political Bureau and investigated what was the exact number of victims of political repressions. He says that repressions can be interpreted differently. In this case we mean political prisoners indicted according to the 58th clause of the Criminal Code - counterrevolutionary activity and other grave crimes committed against the state, and people sentenced to execution by shooting and other punishments. The number of these victims made up about 4 million people within 1921-1953; 1.4 million of them were executed by shooting or died in camps.

However, it is not the number that matters in this case if we speak about innocent people who suffered during repressions. It would be more interesting to focus upon those mentioned by the statistics in general. However, the statistics does not mention ousted rich peasants, deported people and others. Some of rich peasants were arrested and convicted as political criminals - the statistics mentions this category. Others were arrested and deported to the north or driven out of villages for work at factories. Thus, expropriation and deportation are not treated as repressions.

Who are the 4 million people mentioned by the statistics? It is perfectly known that the year of 1937 was the peak of political repressions when representatives of the Soviet humanitarian and technical circles underwent repressions. At the same time, innocent people were prosecuted according to political clauses of the Code, but these people are rather treated as a background. Main attention is focused on repressed intellectuals only. We seldom remember those who left the country in 1917 on their own will; the people were the cream of intellectuals indeed.

If we touch upon illegally repressed people, we should mention not some particular persons but the whole of the political system that existed at that time. The proletariat dictatorship, denied by the law "On rehabilitation", was in fact a popular and successfully applied method for development of the Soviet society. The state has the right to defend itself, and this refers not only to the Soviet Union.

On October 26, 2001 "US Patriotic Act" came into effect in America. The document allows police and special services to secretly search apartments of people suspected of terrorism activity, to tap their telephones, to view their Internet communication and obtain information about their private life without presenting the evidence of people's connection with terrorism. The press reports about tortures allegedly applied to people under investigation. The US President signed a decree on creation of military tribunals outside the country meant for trials on citizens of other countries.

In November 2001, the British Parliament passed a law on struggle against terrorism that cancelled the presumption of innocence, allowed arrests and imprisonment without bringing charges against people; according to the law closed courts without jury are possible.  

If we take into consideration the totalitarian system that existed in the Soviet Union, then we should refer the whole population of the country to victims of political repressions, not just some groups. At that period, people were deprived of civil liberties of which we are speaking nowadays. It would be correct to call peasants having no passports and thus forced to stay in villages victims of political terror as well. There are lots of examples of this kind that are not spoken about.

Some definite group of people thinks it is convenient to employ myths they invent for their own purposes. It is not accidental that from the material point of view the political rehabilitation brought no results. It could not be effective under conditions when the economy is being destroyed and the population is being robbed.

Igor Kulagin

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