Why Did Moscow Deport Pskov Residents from Near Baltic Borders in 1950?
September 25 – Between 1944 and 1952, Moscow deported some 200,000 Estonians,
Latvians and Lithuanians to break the back of the Baltic resistance to the
Soviet occupation of their countries. But in addition, the Soviet authorities
deported a significant number of people from neighboring Pskov Oblast in the
If the deportations
from the Baltic countries are still far less known than those from the North
Caucasus and Middle Volga, they have received far more attention that the
analogous deportations from Pskov Oblast, a shortcoming that a new article on
the Russian 7 portal seeks to rectify (russian7.ru/post/deportaciya-zhiteley-pskovskoy-oblast/).
In it, historian
Taras Repin says that resistance movements had emerged in Pskov, especially in the
newly absorbed Pechora, Pytalov and Kachanov districts, some of it indigenous
as the areas had bene under German occupation and some of it linked to Latvian “forest
brothers” who came into the Russian areas during and after the war.
that in combatting these forces, which in some cases involved units of as many
as 700 fighters, the Soviet authorities made use of “the means and methods that
had worked for them in the 1920s and 1930s,” arresting, executing and deporting
those whom they deemed a threat to Soviet power.
to Repin, fighting such groups in Pskov was especially difficult because of “the
enormous number of supporters from among the local population who provided the
militants with food, clothing and also information about the movements of
officers of Soviet organs, the location of military units … as well as weapons.”
The first wave of deportations
of forest brother units and their supporters took place in Lithuania in 1948; the
second in Latvia and Estonia a year later. During that period, the Soviet
authorities did not adopt that measure against the militants in Pskov Oblast.That occurred only at the end of 1949; but by
then, the historian says, “the situation had changed.”
Soviet Union had been rocked by the so-called “Leningrad affair,” in which
various officials were accused of planning to form a Russian Communist Party in
opposition to the CPSU. The resulting purge ultimately spread to Pskov Oblast;
and the newly installed party authorities in the oblast capital moved against
not only forest brother units but also those they deemed unreliable on this
December 25, 1949, the USSR Council of Ministers ordered the expulsion of a variety
of categories of people from the western regions of Pskov Oblast. Most of just
over 1500 people from these areas expelled were peasants but some lower-ranking
officials appear to have been swept up as well.They were dispatched to Krasnoyarsk Kray east of the Urals.
Repin does not mention it, there may have been another factor behind the deportations
from this border area.At that time,
Lavrenty Beria was quietly exploring the possibility of allowing the Baltic
states to become peoples’ democracies like the countries in Eastern Europe.
secret police chief hoped that doing so would cause the West to back away from
forming NATO and lead to the neutralization of a unified Germany. The plan came
to nothing, but among the charges Beria was executed for in 1953 was that he
was working to divide the USSR.