Monday, July 3, 2017

A 1937 Anniversary the Kremlin Won’t Be Marking – at Least Not with Parades

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 2 –  Today marks the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Terror, Irina Pavlova says, because on this date in 1937, the Communist Politburo adopted a then-secret degree “On Anti-Soviet Elements” on the basis of which the NKVD developed the program on which the Great Terror began.

            These documents, the US-based Russian historian says, “became the basic plan of a grandiose ‘purge’ of society, which was carried out under the cover of an election campaign to the Soviet parliament, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR” which were held six months later (

             In 1937, the NKVD launched a wave of arrests that swept up first hundreds, then thousands and then tens of thousands of people all accompanied by mass public meetings in support of excluding from the elite those who had misused their position and punishing them as well.

            Today, Pavlova argues, “what is required is not this history of mass, secret destruction of Soviet citizens.” Instead, what is needed by those in power is “a half truth about the Great Terror, about its visible aspect, about ‘replacement of elites,’ about Stalin’s so-called cadres reform which was marked by a mass ‘purge’ of the party-state bureaucracy.”

            Over the last decade, she continues, support for a repetition of 1937 has grown because in the words of Yegor Kholmogorov, one of its advocates, “without a broad repressive policy which will cleanse the air in present-day Russia, it will be impossible to restore order and what is especially important to form a new elite.”
            Now, such views which he expressed already in 2003, have “conquered the masses and become a commonplace,” as shown by the materials about Stalin in the media of Russia today.  In April, Moskovsky komsomolets published an article by Aleksandr Pyzhnikov which could be called “a manifesto” of such appeals ( And since then such appeals have only multiplied.

            Pavlova suggests that “the campaign for ‘a change of elites,’ for repression against bosses will become the pre-election platform for Vladimir Putin’s fourth term,” a platform that will “unite not only the [current] supporters of Putin but also the protest electorate” which has focused on corruption as an issue. To that end, Dmitry Medvedev may be a symbolic sacrifice.

            “There is no doubt that with such an agenda, Putin will easily win the Russian elections, casting himself as a popular ruler and defender of the people’s interests.”  Of course, “mass murders of the kinds that occurred under Stalin aren’t needed today. The times are different: they are vegetarian.”

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