Staunton, June 1 – Sixty year ago on June 2, 1962, Soviet troops shot and killed workers and their families in the southern Russian city of Novocherkassk who were protesting price increases and wage cuts in what was perhaps the most brutal suppression of a demonstration after the death of Stalin.
The Soviet authorities sought to cast a veil of secrecy over what happened not only to defend the honor of the siloviki who carried out this massacre but also to avoid calling into further question the regime’s continuing efforts to present itself as the defender of the working class rather than as its enemy.
During Gorbachev’s time and in the early 1990s, researchers were able to uncover a great deal of information about this tragedy; but now, Tatyana Bocharova says, the veil of secrecy is again being thrown over Novocherkassk, a combination of official desires not to criticize the siloviki and popular nostalgia for Soviet times (polit.ru/article/2022/06/01/ps_bocharova/).
Indeed, the author of a 2021 volume on those events, Novocherkassk. A Bloody Noon (in Russian; Moscow/Berlin), says, the entire episode is becoming “an inconvenient truth” with archives again being closed and official histories ignoring or at least downplaying the massacre of workers demonstrating for their rights.
Those who witnessed the events are dying off, and many Russians now prefer to ignore what they are told was merely a blemish on the past. But as people forget, Bocharova says, the danger increases that the horrors of the past can return; and she insists that that is the real reason everyone must fight against forgetting and especially official sponsorship of that.