Sunday, April 22, 2018

A SMERSH General Who Didn’t Like Putin

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 22 – Radio Liberty’s Dmitry Volchek has posted on the station’s website a remarkable human and political document: a selection of the as-yet unpublished memoirs of Andrey Frolov who worked in the Soviet intelligence agencies and retired as a SMERSH general and an interview with Frolov’s son who lives in New Zealand.

            Andrey Frolov (1908-2004) had a remarkable career, having in his youth seen the last tsar and be congratulated on his 95th birthday by Vladimir Putin. He rose through the ranks of the Soviet secret police, was involved in Stalin-era repressions, and became a SMERSH major general. He was forced out with the fall of Beria in 1953 but wasn’t himself suppressed.

            His younger son, born in 1954, has his father’s unpublished memoir which provides numerous details on the organs in Stalin’s times as well as the evolving view of the general about the Soviet and post-Soviet leadership ( Among the most relevant to the current Russian situation are the following:

                General Frolov offered the following judgment about Putin and by extension to Russia more generally: “I can’t bear Putin,” he wrote, “a pipsqueak and the brother of a kind of man I know well," someone who knows only how to repress others and enrich himself.

            “I came to undertand from the time of the civil war how stupid our people is; but I thought that education wouldhelp. It hasn’t: when I look at Putin, Medvedev and Fradkov with their idiotic facilia expressions and their participation in church services, I see that education did not help them. The only thing that has happened was a loss of time.”

            “My illiterate grandfather was smarter,” the general said. “Where then is progress? Somewhere, only not with us.”

            His son offered some comments of his own about his father’s evolving thinking toward the end of his life.  The end of the USSR “was for him a big drama. But he and my mother decided that everything was OK, and they burned their party cards because father considered that the leaders had not acted in time.”

            “At the same time,” the son continued, his father “thought that the idea of communism was good, although he then gradually came to the conclusion that the idea, unfortunately was mistaken, that the February revolution which he had seen was much better.” And he dismissed as lies all suggestions that people like himself starved under the tsar.

            The general “sympathized even during the times of repression with his opponents because he respected them for their opinions,” his son said. He said some Ukrainian nationalists against whom he fought were nonetheless good people. And he liked Putin critics like Khodorkovsky, Piontkovsky and Novodvorskaya, even when he didn’t agree with them.

            “On the other hand,” his son said, his father “loved Stalin,” even though he never met him personally. He did know Vasily Stalin, however.  But as he lost confidence in communism and came to believe in democracy, he became ever more hostile to all dictators and expressed pleasure when news came that Saddam Husseyn had been caught and would be executed.

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