On the Creeping Return of Stalinism

Yakovlev

Aleksandr Yakovlev, the “Godfather of glasnost,” in a speech in 1990:

“[Gorbachev’s decrees rehabilitating victims of terror from 1920-50s] are in my view acts of repentance. When we say that we are rehabilitating someone, as if we are mercifully forgiving him for the sins of the past, this smells of cunning and hypocrisy. We are not forgiving him. We are forgiving ourselves. It is we who are to blame that others lived for years both slandered and oppressed. It is we who are rehabilitating ourselves, not those who held other thoughts and convictions. They only wanted good and freedom for us, and the leadership of the country answered with evil, prisons and camps.

As we breathe the air of freedom, it is already becoming difficult today for us to remember what happened in the distant and not so distant past. There were hundreds of thousands of brutal trials, people who were shot and killed, people who killed themselves, people who did not even know what they were charged with, but who were destroyed…

For us, they are not a reproach but a harsh reminder to all those who still have a yearning nostalgia for the past, for those who would turn everything back to the fear… I want to pay special attention to the tragic fate of our peasantry, which paid the price in blood for the criminality of the Stalinist regime. This is not only an unprecedented reprisal against the peasantry, which disrupted the flow of the society, but it also brought the development of the state into crisis. History has never known such a concentrated hatred toward man.”

from David Remnick, Lenin’s Tomb (1994)