Saturday, September 17, 2016

2016 Russian Vote More Like That of 1937 than Those at End of Soviet Times, Pavlova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 17 – Many Russian opposition figures say that the Duma elections tomorrow resemble those near the end of Soviet times and thus inevitably point towards a new perestroika, but in fact, Irina Pavlova says, the 2016 vote has more in common with the 1937 Supreme Soviet elections under Stalin.

            The US-based Russian historian argues that “present-day Russia is experiencing not stagnation but rather new growth, the essence of which lies in re-Stalinization in a new historical stage and in new historical conditions.” Consequently, “the elections of 2016 are like the elections of 1937” (

            Pavlova bases her conclusions on her study of those earlier elections, a study that was published in “Voprosy istorii” in 2003 (“1937: Elections as Mystification and Terror as a Reality” in Russian, available online at  That vote, she points out, “legitimized the policy of the Stalinist regime and strengthened it.”

            Under the cover of the election campaign to the USSR Supreme Soviet, the Kremlin came up with “a grandiose plan for the ‘cleansing’ of society.”  It adopted quotas for purges in all parts of the Soviet Union even as it organized the vote.  This “cleansing” was supposed to end at the moment of the election, but the Stalinist powers that be weren’t able to complete it by then.

            “The elections to the State Duma on September 18, 2016, will become nothing other than a legitimization of all the previous policy of the Putin powers that be, including its subversive activity in Ukraine and in the Middle East, its military operation in Syria, and its provocative great power and anti-Western policies toward Europe and the US,” Pavlova says.

            Moreover, she continues, “these elections will legitimize the ongoing repressions against corrupt governors and other local and capital bosses. And finally, the elections will give the Kremlin carte blanche for a further ‘purging’ of society from so-called extremist elements, from so-called rehabilitators of Nazism, and the like.”

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