Saturday, February 27, 2016

Lustration Reemerging as Serious Political Issue in Russia, Ikhlov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 27 – As the Soviet nature of the Putin regime becomes ever more obvious – Dmitry Medvedev this week said United Russia should learn from the CPSU ( – and as more people think about a post-Putin future, the issue of lustration has reemerged as a serious subject for discussion.

            In the 1990s and as a result both of euphoria about the end of the Soviet system and the opposition both in the country and abroad to any “witch hunts,” efforts to promote lustration – such as those of Galina Starovoitova – were ignored; but now it is clear, Yevgeny Ikhlov says, that this is an idea whose time has come (

            The reasons for that, he suggests, are two-fold: the continued dominance of people whose values were formed by the Soviet regime is blocking Russia’s progress toward democracy and freedom, and the alternative to lustration in the event of radical change is in the Russian context uncontrolled “lynch law” in which the population will take law into their own hands.

            Lustration – the imposition of restrictions on holding office by people from a regime that has been displaced by revolutionary change – has a long history both abroad – going back to early modern Spain – and in Russia where the Soviet imposition of restrictions on members of the former ruling class in the 1920s and 1930s were a clear case of it, Ikhlov says.

            It is important to distinguish it from other things with which it is sometimes confused, he continues.  It is not revenge and, unlike de-Nazification in Germany after World War II, it “doesn’t threaten anyone with any deprivation of freedom.” The only thing it does is impose restrictions on holding definite positions “in politics, administration, the media and education.”

            Because that is the case, Ikhlov says, he is “an unreserved supporter of lustration according to clear and transparent rules.” He called for it in December 2011 and says he was “very proud” that his ideas on this point were reflected in decisions and declarations take by the united opposition at that time.

            Lustration is becoming ever more important also because the old nomenklatura has recruited new members to its ranks and socialized these people to behave in the ways that the older generation did, by restoring a kind of nomenklatura as a way of blocking the institutionalization of political life, Ikhlov says. 

         Under these conditions, he continues, “lustration is the only bloodless means of destroying the nomenklatura as asocial stratum because it deprives those who received the chance for a career at the price of participation in the violation of the law and the rights of others of the right to a political and administrative career” in the future.

            “Here are example of such beneficiaries of illegality,” Ikhlov says. “Someone became a deputy of a party as a result of falsified elecitons. Another made an administrative career asaresult of suppressing the opposition and freedom of speech. A third made a media career by becoming a mouthpiece for propaganda, slander and xenophobia.” And yet another “made a career in the system of culture and ecuation” by using illegitimate means.

            “None of these violated the law personally: he is simply the beneficiary of the usurpation of power by the ruling stratum to which he has attached himself.” But for Russia to move forward, Ikhlov says, they need to be kept out of politics and the media; and it is better to do that by law than by lynch law.

            In order to promote that process, Ikhlov recommends that Russians read the draft legislation that Starovoitova proposedin 1992 and again in 1997 without success. And he provides a copy and a link of what he calls “that legendary document” (

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