Staunton, Dec. 31 – Because most Russians assume that nothing important happened in Soviet times unless the party leadership gave the order and because they think that anything it did create was tightly organized, they continue to believe that the so-called Russian Party of the last decades of Soviet time was created by the party leadership and tightly controlled.
But the archives that have been opened do not support either conclusion, the Russian Seven portal says. Instead, they paint a picture of a loosely affiliated group of Russian nationalists who arose on their own rather than on orders from above and included a wide range of views (russian7.ru/post/russkaya-partiya-v-kpss-v-kakikh-grekhakh/).
The portal says that the grouping was no “united fraction” committed to the same list of things, including “Russian great power chauvinism,” opposition to democratic values, and a commitment to persecution Jews and dissidents led from behind the scenes and loyal to the top leadership of the CPSU and Soviet state.
Instead, it included people ranging from hardened Stalinists to committed democrats, from regime loyalists to open dissidents, and from those who simply wanted to get more attention to things Russian to those who wanted to impose a Russian matrix of their own design on all Russians and everyone else in the USSR.
Many lists of the group’s “members” have been offered, but the only name that appears on all of them is Aleksandr Shelepin, head of the KGB between 1958 and 1961 and a member of the Politburo from 1964 to 1975. Other members ranged from people like Soloukhin and Glazunov to Shafarevich and Lobanov.
Most researchers trace the origin of this grouping of opinion to the Leningrad Affairs of 1948 to 1950 when Stalin repressed people from the northern capital for wanting to form a communist party organization for the RSFSR, the only republic without one, and seeking to move the capital of that republic from Moscow to Leningrad.
Such demands circulated increasingly toward the end of Soviet times and even animated many of those around Boris Yeltsin, Russia Seven says. But suggestions that the Russian Party as some unified whole are wrong: some of its members may have supported that approach but many in it did not.
There are suggestions that many of those identified as part of the Russian Party did enjoy protection from some senior party and state leaders. The one of these most often named as the defender of the group was Mikhail Solomnetsev, chairman of the RSFSR Council of Ministers from 1971 to 1983 and head of the party control commission from 1983 to 1988.
But what is known up to now does not allow for the conclusion that “in the late USSR, within the CPSU, there existed some unified group of persons, ‘the Russian Party,’ with specific and programmatic goals.” Of course, Russia Seven says, “it is not excluded that future investigations will shed more light on this issue.”