Staunton, February 18 – “If we lived in a Christian country,” Aleksandr Tsipko says, “then the first of the leaders of Russia we would put in the ranks of saints would be Nikita Khrushchev” because no one else “in the history of Russia or even in the history of humanity” made so many people happy by freeing them from the GULAG.
But “for the majority of the population today, it isn’t Khrushchev who is a saint,” the Moscow commentator says, “but Stalin who starved and had shot hundreds of thousands of people and who transformed the country into a prison camp and a national jail” (mk.ru/politics/2021/02/18/nikita-khrushhev-podaril-nam-velikoe-schaste-pochemu-stalina-lyubyat-bolshe.html).
One is compelled to ask, Tsipko says, “how can all this be explained? What kind of a people are we who do not want to remember the good but bow down before a criminal and obvious evil?” And how is it possible that Khrushchev remains distained while many Russians put up pictures alongside their icons not those of Khrushchev but of Stalin?
“Perhaps,” he says, “as our great patriot Aleksandr Prokhanov thinks, ‘the Russia idea’ consists in the right of the ruler of the country to kill as many people as he wants?” But of course, many insist that Stalin must be forgiven because he “left us a great power” and that if Khrushchev hadn’t unmasked him, the CPSU and USSR would still exist.
However, “it is important all the same to recognize in fact what this great power created by Stalin was really like and why it was enough for first Khrushchev and then Gorbachev to speak the language of truth, to reveal the truth about the Red Terror, and from this country, nothing would remain.”
“Politicians and deputies who today criticize Khrushchev and Gorbachev for the fact that they were brave enough to speak about Stalin’s crimes in fact did not give themselves an account about the real ties which held the Stalinist system together.” They weren’t prepared to recognize that “everything was held together by fear” and the high price that imposed on everyone.
Nor were they ready to recognize the way in which what Stalin did was the result of the communist ideology he espoused. Instead, both Khrushchev and Gorbachev were animated by empathy for others and the believe that democracy and communism could exist in one and the same country.
“It is well known,” Tsipko continues, “how much time Khrushchev devoted to meetings with the wives of party leaders who were repressed by Stalin. He felt in his soul their pain; otherwise, he would not have met with them.” And he was courageous enough to attack their killer when Stalin’s comrades in arms were still alive.
At the same time, “one must be objective. Khrushchev not in any case wanted the death of the USSR or wanted to destroy the soviet system Stalin established. He was the father of the ideology of ‘the people of the 1960s’ and considered that ‘Marxism-Leninism and villainy were incompatible.”
Moreover, Tsipko says, “he believed that had Lenin had been able, he would have stripped Stalin of his position as general secretary and in his place would have come ‘a more tolerant individual’ and there would never have been all the horrors of the Stalinist era.” Neither he nor the others of the 1960s understood that Stalinism was inherent in communism.
Khrushchev believed that it was possible “to combine the Soviet system with party democracy. Gorbachev by the way followed Dubcek and the ideologists of ‘the Prague spring’ and thought that socialism could be combined with genuine Western democracy.” But that was impossible, and communism and the USSR dissolved.
“As soon as democracy appeared,” the commentator argues, “there appeared people who said that the idea of terror, the idea of death, and the idea of insane sacrifices lay at the basis of the Marxist doctrine of revolution.” And that insight led to the end of Stalin’s system and ultimately of “the great power” he built, one which rested on “lies and force” alone.