"the 50th anniversary of Stalin's death sounds the alarm that Russian
society has failed to grasp the essence of what was going on in Russia
in the Stalin era."
MOSCOW. March 5, 2003 (Interfax) - Acamedician Alexander
Yakovlev, who chairs the Presidential Commission for the Rehabilitation
of Victims of Political Reprisals, is outraged by the scope of events to
mark 50 years since Josef Stalin's death.
"The Russian mass media have been dancing around this figure for
nearly five days. It's amazing! What this petty occasion deserves is just
a line reading that the tyrant died 50 years ago," Yakovlev told Interfax
"The worst thing is that Stalin is being pictured as a martyr who was
probably poisoned, or probably strangled, now it turns out he was a good
guy who smiled at kids and gave them sweets," he said.
"It's a shame! This man signed a decree which said that children can
be executed from the age of 12. He eliminated all of his relatives and
all of his comrades-in-arms who were unfortunate enough to learn what
they should not have. This man destroyed the peasantry, the nobility and
Russian culture as a whole. Are we as Russians so oblivious?" Yakovlev
He said that about 32 million people fell victim to political reprisals
in the country, including 13 million during the civil war. Including unborn
children, the peoples of the former Soviet Union have lost over 100 million
lives since 1917," he said.
Recalling Stalin's reprisals, Yakovlev said that after the Great
Patriotic War [WWII], 1.8 million prisoners of fascist concentration
camps, upon their return to Russia, were thrown into GULAG camps on
charges of high treason. Many of them died.
"Disregarding all of this, we are commemorating Stalin with his
restored portraits, which have nothing to do with his actual appearance.
If the same hullabaloo had been staged in Germany over Hitler, a
countless number of court actions would have followed," Yakovlev said.
Yan Rachinsky, a representative of the Memorial international human
rights center, said that "the 50th anniversary of Stalin's death sounds
the alarm that Russian society has failed to grasp the essence of what
was going on in Russia in the Stalin era."
Many archives are still closed to researchers, while accounts by
historians who assess the Stalin era objectively are rarely published.
In contrast, the go-ahead has been given to materials praising the
"leader of all times and nations," and the ideology of the 1930s and
1950s is actually been reproduced. "Assertions that Stalin's rule was
useful to Russia and the Russian people are perceived calmly and
sometimes with applause," Rachinsky said.
"Moreover, even some of those who went through GULAG still believe
that "the leader" did not know anything about massive reprisals, although
it has been established that he personally signed the lists of citizens
to be executed," he said.
He added that a shortage of objective information about the Stalin era
does not allow society to understand its tragic essence to this day.
EDITOR: Are there any alarms Ukrainian society has failed to grasp
the essence of what was going on in the Soviet Union and in Ukraine
in the Stalin era?