“In the 1930s, ‘on the conveyor belt’ were put arrests, tortures, beatings, shootings and forced labor. And always there were HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE READY TO CARRY OUT ORDERS, struggling to overfulfill the plans for arrests, shootings and suppressions,” the contemporary political critic points out.
How did such people “justify the death and suffering of millions of innocent people? By claiming to be serving the motherland and the party, by faith in a glorious future or simply and more banally by a readiness to take harsh actions lest they become their victims?” Gudkov asks rhetorically.
“The GULAG [then] did not appear all at once: for long years before the start of mass repressions, the situation in the USSR deteriorated gradually, step by step. Many n the party and the country understood this, saw what was happening and recognized it – and did nothing in the hope that everything would sort itself out.”
The result of such calculations is well-known: “the bloody genocide of the Soviet people, the destruction of millions of lives. Do we want to repeat this? Just now the country is beginning to prepare a new wave of repression against [the innocent], against bloggers who retreat an innocent picture or some citation.”
Because those in power think they can get away with anything, they are beginning to punish others for everything: “for conversations, anecdotes, for catching virtual Pokemons in church and for criticizing any of their actions,” Gudkov says.
“The executors for the new GULAG are already also prepared: without morality, principles or sympathy. They are ready to fulfill any order of the leader and his henchmen.” In this situation, those who hear about what is happening to others need to remember the poet’s injunction: Do not ask for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee.”