Gorbachev Denounces Putin’s “Sham” Democracy

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Editor’s note: Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev recently issued a harsh rebuke of Vladimir Putin’s regime, accusing it of rolling back the democratic reforms of the 1990s and for manipulating elections. Gorbachev’s pronouncement has helped focus light on the criminal nature of Putin’s authoritarian regime, which was the subject of a recent Frontpage Symposium, The Shadow of the KGB, published in our Feb.11, 2011 issue. We have decided to reprint the panel discussion, graced by an All-Star Cast, to mark the occasion of Gorbachev calling out Putin and Medvedev on their totalitarian stripes.

Symposium: The Shadow of the KGB

Frontpage Symposium has gathered a distinguished panel to discuss the nature of Putin’s authoritarian regime and its true roots. Our guests today are:

Adam Burakowski, the author of Carpathian Genius. The Dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu 1965-1989 and co-author of 1989 – Autumn of Nations, a book that compares the process of communism’s fall in different states of Central and Eastern Europe. He received a Ph.D. from the Warsaw-based Institute of Political Studies of Polish Academy of Sciences.

Vladimir Bukovsky, a former leading Soviet dissident and author of To Build a Castle and Judgment in Moscow.

Pavel Stroilov, a historian who smuggled a vast secret archive of the Gorbachev era out of Russia.

Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest official ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. His first book, Red Horizons, was republished in 27 languages. In March 2010, The Washington Post recommended it to be included on the list of books that should be read in schools. A commemorative edition of Red Horizons was just issued in Romania to mark 20 years since Ceausescu was executed at the end of a trial where most of the accusations came out of this book. In April 2010, Pacepa’s latest book, Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination, was prominently displayed at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians held in Washington D.C., as a “superb new paradigmatic work” and a “must read” for “everyone interested in the assassination of President Kennedy.”

Robert Buchar, an associate professor and author of the Cinematography Program at Columbia College in Chicago. A political refugee from former Czechoslovakia, he is the producer of the documentary, Velvet Hangover, which is about Czech New Wave filmmakers, how they survived the period of “normalization” and their reflections on the so-called Velvet Revolution of 1989. He is the author of the new book, And Reality be Damned… Undoing America: What The Media Didn’t Tell You About the End of the Cold War and Fall of Communism in Europe. The book is based on a documentary feature he is currently working on, The Collapse of Communism: The Untold Story.

Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy, a Senior Fellow at the Gerard Group International and a former KGB agent who became one of the KGB’s harshest critics. He is the author of seven books about the KGB and Japan, two of which are The Spy Who Loved Japan and KGB/FSB’s New Trojan Horse: Americans of Russian Descent.

J. R. Nyquist, writes a column on global strategic issues for Financial Sense Online  (financialsense.com), and is also president of the Strategic Crisis Center, Inc. (StrategicCrisis.com).

Olga Velikanova, an Assistant Professor of Russian History at the University of North Texas. She was among the first scholars to work with declassified Communist Party and secret police archives. Her research about everyday Stalinism, the cult of Lenin and Russian popular opinion has been broadcast by the BBC, Finnish and Russian radio and TV, as well as the History Channel in Canada. She is the author of Making of an Idol: On Uses of Lenin, The Public Perception of the Cult of Lenin Based on the Archival Materials and The Myth of the Besieged Fortress: Soviet Mass Perception in the 1920s-1930s. She is a recipient of many awards from different international research foundations.


David Satter, a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute and a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He was Moscow correspondent of the Financial Times of London from 1976 to 1982, during the height of the Soviet totalitarian period and he is the author of Age of Delirium: the Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union, which is being made into a documentary film. His most recent work is Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State.

FP: Adam Burakowski, Vladimir Bukovsky, Pavel Stroilov, Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, Robert Buchar, Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy, J. R. Nyquist, Olga Velikanova and David Satter, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

During most of the last century, U.S. policies were heavily centered around the Soviet Union, and yet today our government seems to almost ignore Russia, even though it is still an aggressive dictatorship armed with nuclear weapons.

Mihai Pacepa, you have provided a profound foundation for our discussion by giving  Frontpage the following statement:

“The United States spent forty years and trillions of dollars to fight Soviet Communism, whose criminal political police killed over 70 million people within the Soviet bloc alone. Now that same Communist political police–with a new nameplate at its door–is running the Kremlin, and Russia is seen as our friend. Over 6,000 former officers of the KGB, which shot millions to keep Soviet Communism in power, are now members of Russia’s federal and local governments, and nearly half of all other top governmental positions are held by other former KGB-ists. [1] The United States would certainly not even think about establishing diplomatic relations with a Germany run by former Gestapo officers. In 2002, however, NATO welcomed Russia as an honorary member and junior partner into that alliance set up by the United States for the purpose of containing Soviet expansion. There is still a widely popular belief in the United States and Western Europe that the evil Soviet legacy was uprooted in 1991, when the Soviet Union was abolished, just as the Nazi legacy was extirpated in 1945, when World War II ended. But was it?”

Take it from here.

Gen. Pacepa: No, it wasn’t. To explain why, we should first correctly define the Soviet Union, which has been regularly described as a dictatorship based on the mass appeal of the Marxist ideology and on the strong arm of the Communist Party. In other words, the Soviet Union has been regarded, both in the West and within its own borders, as a form of government that, although dictatorial, ruled the country through a political party and based its decisions on a political ideology. Only a handful of people who were working in extremely close proximity to the top Soviet and East European rulers, as I once did, knew that after Lenin died, Soviet Union devolved into a one-man totalitarian dictatorship.

Stalin, who succeeded Lenin, grew up as the son of a drunken cobbler in the far reaches of the Transcaucasus, and he was unencumbered by any experience with Marxism, Western social democracy or party politics. For Stalin, Lenin’s Party was just a “yakkity-yak,” a place where people sat around beating their gums. Stalin hated public debate; secrecy was the element in which he thrived, like a fish in water. To Stalin the normal structure for a country was the autocratic Russian police state, and he started running the Soviet Union secretly, with the help of his political police.

Stalin began his reign by ordering his political police to secretly expel his main rival for the Soviet throne, Leon Trotsky, from the country without letting anybody find out about it. When the deed was done, Stalin gave his political police a “pokhvalnaya gramota, i.e., a magna cum laude. Trotsky and his guards were the only passengers on board the Soviet ship Iskra when it sailed out of Odessa bound for Istanbul in January 1929, carrying Trotsky into exile.

Stalin had already changed the name of his political police from Cheka to State Political Directorate (Gosudarstvennoye Politicheskoye Upravleniye, GPU), a revealingly descriptive name, and he turned his new instrument of power against the Communist Party itself. Within a few years, all members of Lenin’s Politburo at the time of the 1917 Communist Revolution were shot as Western spies. The man named by Lenin in his testament as the most capable of the younger generation, Georgy Pyatakov, was also shot. With the party under his belt, Stalin ordered his political police to frame as German spies the Red Army’s chief of staff, Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky, the man responsible for modernizing the Red Army, and seven other top military commanders. After their hasty execution, Stalin’s secret police liquidated 70 out of the 80 members of the Supreme Military Council and an estimated 35,000 other Red Army officers.

Once firmly seated in the saddle, Stalin promoted the chief of his political police, Nikolay Yezhov, as his main lieutenant and began an era of terror unequaled since Ivan the Terrible.  In all, some seven million people lost their lives during those purges, including most of the Soviet Communists who had fought for Lenin’s revolution and numerous foreign Communist leaders as well. Yezhov’s name has been preserved for history in the word yezhovshchina, the popular name for the cruel purges of 1936-38.  In a truly Byzantine scenario, those who had carried out the purges and could claim that they had only acted on Stalin’s orders were themselves then liquidated. By the time the purges came to an end in December 1938, thousands of political police officers had also disappeared. Yezhov himself, the ugly dwarf who gave his name to the whole yezhovshchina, was never heard from again after January 1939.

In 1978, when I broke with Communism, the Communist Party played no greater role in the Soviet Union—or in the rest of the Soviet bloc—than did Lenin’s embalmed corpse in the Kremlin mausoleum. Lenin’s Communism was transformed into a samoderzhaviye, the traditional Russian form of totalitarian autocracy in which a feudal lord ruled the country with the help of his personal political police. After the August 1991 coup in Moscow, the Communist Party lost its official power as well, and nobody within the country really missed it. Until Lenin came along, Russia had never had a real political party anyway.

The Soviet political police, however, survived, by repeatedly changing its name–from KGB to MSB, to MB, to TsSR, to FSK, to FSB–to make the West and Russia forget that, in the end, it was the same Stalinist political police, which had killed over 20 million people to protect a feudal government in the middle of the 20th century.

During the old Cold War, the KGB was a state within a state. Now the KGB, rechristened FSB, is the state. The Soviet Union had one KGB officer for every 428 citizens. The “democratic” Russia has almost twice as many: one police officer for every 297 citizens. [2] The fate of millions of people killed or terrorized by the Soviet political police is still locked up behind the Lubyanka’s walls. Hangmen do not incriminate themselves.

KGB General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, who headed the Soviet espionage service, the PGU, for an unprecedented 14 years, repeatedly told me that, “every society reflects its own past.” Sakharovsky, who was a Russian to the marrow of his bones, believed that someday “our socialist camp” might wear an entirely different face, Marxism might have been turned upside down, and even the Communist Party itself might have become history, but that would not matter. Both Marxism and the party were foreign organisms that had been introduced into the Russian body, and sooner or later they would have to be rejected in any case. One thing, though, was certain to remain unchanged for as long as the Russian motherland was still in existence: “our gosbezopasnost” (the state security service). Sakharovsky used to point out that “our gosbezopasnost” had kept Russia alive for the past four hundred years, “our gosbezopasnost” would guide her helm for the next five hundred years, “our gosbezopasnost” would win the war with “our number one enemy, American imperialzionism,” and “our gosbezopasnost” would eventually make Russia the leader of the world.

So far, Sakharovsky has proved to be a dependable prophet. His successor at the PGU, Vladimir Kryuchkov, who later became chairman of the KGB and authored the August 1991 coup that briefly deposed Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, clearly shared the same fanatical belief in Russia’s gosbezopasnost. Kryuchkov’s successor, Yevgeny Primakov, who was an undercover KGB officer under Sakharovsky, rose to become Russia’s prime minister. Most notably, Vladimir Putin was the very chief of the entire gosbezopasnost before being appointed Russia’s president. It is like democratizing Germany with Gestapo officers at its helm.

It will not be easy to break Russia’s five-century-old tradition of samoderzhaviye. Nevertheless, man would not have learned to walk on the moon, if he had not first studied what the moon was really made of and where it lay in the universe. I hope this Symposium will help.

Satter: I agree with Gen. Pacepa that Russia has not repudiated the legacy of Soviet Union. In fact, there was little attempt. A few statues were removed (although there was an effort to return the statue of Dzerzhinsky to Lyubanskaya Square in 2002), a couple of cities were renamed as well as a few streets but Russian society never faced the meaning of communist crimes and the roots of communism in centuries old Russian traditions.

I think there were three things that needed to be done (but were not done) in order to free Russia of the legacy of communism. First, there needed to be a juridical condemnation of communism. The 1991 law on rehabilitation, which was passed just as the Soviet Union was about to disappear, is the only place in Russian legislation that it is possible to find such a condemnation. It does not exist anywhere else although there was a need on the part of the state to pass broad judgment on this period of Russian history and to make an attempt to condemn, if only posthumously, those who played key roles in it.

Second, there needed to be an explicit apology from the government to the victims of communism, acknowledging their suffering and the state’s responsibility. This also was not done. The victims were “rehabilitated.” The state absolved them of guilt and granted them some meager privileges but at all times it was the state which exercised the right to forgive. At the same time, the state made no effort after the perestroika period, to discover and memorialize the places of mass burial. When they were found and memorialized, it was due to the efforts of private individuals (and, in a few cases, local governments.)

Finally, the Russian state needed to make public the lists of KGB informers as was done in East Germany. Of course, this would have destroyed relationships and damaged peoples’ lives. But the alternative was to preserve the institution of informers for use in the future and to allow society to fool itself about the extent to which the regime planted informers everywhere. Ultimately, revealing the names of informers who played such a terrible role in Soviet history would have had a purifying effect on the moral atmosphere, making it much harder for a future regime to resort to totalitarian methods again.

Taken together, these steps would have constituted a real break with the past. But they were not taken. Instead, the psychological patterns of hundreds of years were able to reassert themselves, in particular, the traditional Russian disregard for the value of the individual. It was therefore a sad inevitability that the security services, which enforce the degradation of the individual, would come to the fore, as they did in a remarkably short period of time.

Burakowski: Like Gen. Pacepa, I also come from a Central-East European state, which suffered under communism and Russian occupation for a long time – and the legacy of this sad period is still alive in both our countries. I agree with Gen. Pacepa that the world is paying too little attention to what is happening in Russia. Since the Soviet Union was dissolved, and its “international” emblem with hammer and sickle over the globe (stressing global aspirations of communism) was discarded, the world has not only forgotten about communist crimes (even the very recent ones), but also started underestimating Russia itself. Nowadays the world treats Russia as just one of the big not particularly important countries, like e.g. Mexico or Saudi Arabia. In my opinion this attitude helps the Kremlin rulers in their game of erasing the past.

The steps proposed by Mr. Satter are necessary if Russia wants to one day become a truly democratic and – which is probably more easy – peaceful state. But who would be willing to implement them? Are there any political or even social forces in Russia that are interested in condemning the communist crimes? Of course there are, but in my opinion they are too weak now as they have been for the last twenty years.

How the Russian government deals with recent past, is clearly visible in the case of the Smolensk plane crash, where Polish President Lech Kaczyński and about ninety other high-ranking state officials, military officers and politicians died in conditions, that are yet to be properly investigated. The catastrophe is treated by the Russian officials as a thing of remote past, even though the event took place as recently as April 10th this year. The remnants of the wreck still lie in Smolensk and the Russians hardly pay any attention to it. “This is the past and the past should be immediately forgotten” reads the hidden message of the Kremlin rulers.

Nyquist: The real question before us has two parts. First, what is the nature of the current regime in Moscow? Second, what are its intentions? According to Gen. Pacepa, the Soviet regime devolved into a one-man totalitarian dictatorship. The methods used by the dictator and his secret police were criminal, including: unprecedented confiscations of property, kangaroo courts, and mass executions. This dictatorship system might be described as a gang of thieves, rapists and murders. Obviously these thieves, as a class, will not peacefully part with their ill-gotten gains. And they have many tricks for holding onto power. While the West grew comfortable, they advanced in the science of deception and destruction. I completely agree with Gen. Pacepa and David Satter’s suggestion that the Soviet “legacy” continued after 1991. There is no doubt of this. We must not deceive ourselves or evade the truth. Removing the Soviet label from the Soviet system did not change the criminal nature of the country’s ruling personalities and structures, especially the secret police.

Having established that Russia is run by a criminal regime, we must ask what this regime’s intentions are? This is the key question. And this is the question our leaders and pundits continually evade. It was the late SVR defector, Sergei Tretyakov, who warned us (only a short while ago) that the Russian KGB leadership wants to destroy America. He said that Americans were naive about Russia. And he was in a position to know, We have other warnings, as well, from Russian patriots who see what has happened. Modern history has taught us what criminal states are like, and what we may expect from them. It is disappointing that Western statesmen have formed a partnership with Moscow. It is disappointing to see the U.S. president flying to Moscow, pretending that the KGB will keep its bargains. This is a very dangerous game, and I don’t believe our leaders know what they’re doing.

Burakowski’s and David Satter’s suggestion that the Soviet “legacy” continued after 1991. There is no doubt of this. We must not deceive ourselves or evade the truth. Removing the Soviet label from the Soviet system did not change the criminal nature of the country’s ruling personalities and structures, especially the secret police.

Having established that Russia is run by a criminal regime, we must ask what this regime’s intentions are? This is the key question. And this is the question our leaders and pundits continually evade. It was the late SVR defector, Sergei Tretyakov, who warned us (only a short while ago) that the Russian KGB leadership wants to destroy America. He said that Americans were naive about Russia. And he was in a position to know, We have other warnings, as well, from Russian patriots who see what has happened. Modern history has taught us what criminal states are like, and what we may expect from them. It is disappointing that Western statesmen have formed a partnership with Moscow. It is disappointing to see the U.S. president flying to Moscow, pretending that the KGB will keep its bargains. This is a very dangerous game, and I don’t believe our leaders know what they’re doing.

Preobrazhenskiy: I also wish the list of the KGB collaborators were published. But I am afraid it will be too long. Everybody appointed to more or less important position has to become a KGB agent.  Oh, how many world-famous names we would see on this list! All spheres of human activity would be presented, from the Russian Orthodox Church to the criminal world. The KGB has informants everywhere.

Of course, the most honorable place must be occupied by the outstanding Soviet scholars. Yes, very many of them were involved in scientific and technical espionage, managed by the Directorate “T” of the KGB Intelligence.  Some world-famous academicians were signing their reports there using codenames.

Yes, the glorious Soviet Academy of Sciences was established mostly for espionage.  All the administrative staff of its “international department” has consisted of officers of the Direct rate “T”. Those officers were dispatching Soviets scholars to the West for studies and international congresses. Only one formality was required for it: to become a KGB collaborator. It was hard to refuse: “You do not want to help your Motherland? If you are not a patriot, you cannot go abroad.”

Now, many of the outstanding Russian scholars have moved to the West. But their personal files have been kept in Lubyanka forever.

And if we touch a mammoth Russian Army? There are hundreds of thousands of KGB informants.  Shall we find enough paper for our list? Many of them would put their names on our list voluntarily, with pride.

Some people in Moscow have proudly confessed to me about them being KGB agents. They considered it a patriotic duty. Most of them were the priests of the Moscow Patriarchate. And now these priests have come to America after merging with ROCOR, Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, in 2007. It was a brilliant victory for the KGB. And I heard how one of their bishops was telling his American flock the following: “To be Orthodox means to be a Russian patriot.” How many of such “patriots” would come to our list very soon?

But why are we looking for the KGB collaborators only among Russians?  There are plenty of them in the West too. Oh, how many “sincere friends of the Soviet Union,” “progressive politicians” and “independent Western journalists” would find their names on our list.

But what shall we do with the thousands of Japanese and German prisoners of WW2,  recruited by NKVD in the prison camps in Siberia? They were forced to become agents using hunger and tortures, but still in the post-war era, they have greatly promoted Soviet influence in Germany and Japan. Some of them kept working for the KGB almost until today. In the KGB archive, I have read many denouncements written by the Japanese prisoners in calligraphic characters: “Sergeant Yamamoto spoke with disrespect about Comrade Stalin and said that there is hunger in the Soviet Union”.

And what about some African political activists and leaders? Many of them have studied in the USSR. Did KGB recruit them or miss these potential recruits? The KGB Intelligence always had a department covering the collaborators among heads of foreign states. It was not so hard to achieve: many Western politicians were recruited in their younger years. For this purpose, the KGB founded s special youth organization, “Sputnik”. On paper, it was affiliated with Komsomol, a Communist Youth Organization, but in fact it totally belonged to the KGB. It has invited thousands of young Western politicians to visit the USSR and enjoy life there for free.

Mostly they were socialists and other leftists, but conservatives were involved as well. Having been brought up in the delicate Western society, they easily got into all KGB catches like prostitutes, illegal currency operations and other pleasant temptations. But there was one more thing – a clear obligation by the KGB to help a recruited young Western politician to become a high level person in his country as a KGB agent. And this promise mostly came true, in many countries.

Recently, Putin made the tactic much clearer: he is personally working with foreign leaders as an intelligence officer. This is only a small part of the categories of KGB collaborators.  In fact, they cover a certain part of the world population.

The idea of disclosing the list appeared in the early 1990s, almost together with the court action against the Soviet Communist Party. How happy and hopeful I was, when it began in 1992. But, to my bitter disappointment, it vanished very quickly. It was destroyed by the burden of the enormous Communist lobby in Russia, as I guessed. But there was one more side interested in its closing: the democratic West. Its secret contacts with Soviets could cause a scandal. Vladimir Bukovsky has told about it in one of his TV interviews.  Well, in case of necessity, the West can find understanding with Russian governments much easier than with Russian dissidents.

Today, the West is kneeling before Russia. It is very vulnerable to Russian influence, dependent on Russian gas and oil, infiltrated with Russian spies. It has shown its spiritual weakness. That is why it has stopped defending Russian dissidents and fighting for human rights in Russia.

Russian influence has penetrated even into our symposium. We are speaking about “former” KGB officers ruling Russia. Why are we so sure that they are “former”? Did they show us their retirement documents?  For the KGB officer to become a “former” means to become poor, to get deprived of service privileges. They are all acting, including Putin. His age allows him to stay on the military service. But Russian propaganda has made us repeat these lies automatically, like parrots.

Putin makes the West suffer his painful tests one by one. The latest one was the strange death of Polish President Kaczynski, in Russia this summer. There were very many suspicious circumstances in this plane crash, but the West has preferred not to irritate Russia because of Poland. The West has “swallowed” this incident, as Russians say. What will it swallow next?

Velikanova: As a professional historian I would like to note that recent historical studies introduce a much richer and more polychromatic picture of the history of Stalinism and the political police than the former security officers in this symposium present in our discussion. Their opinions confirm that conspiratorial thinking remains the core of the security police mentality even among its former members who no longer serve the institution. Unfortunately, numerous KGB officers, who in the 1990s entered state and administrative positions, brought with them this pattern of black and white thinking to modern Russian politics.

We can see the evidence of such simplified views in domestic Russian politics (the proclivity to solve problems by force, not through negotiations and compromise, spy-trials in Putin’s Russia, witch-hunting on gastarbeiters, etc.) and in foreign affairs (suspicion in relations with  neighboring countries and the search for enemies, be it the US or Georgia). I do not think that a confrontational approach preached by a discussant, who regrets that the US President negotiates with Moscow, is a productive approach in contemporary international relations. The old proverb “bad peace is better than good war” represents a more constructive and flexible approach.

In regard to international pressure on the Russian government, the Russian liberal opposition may expect that the West declares its position in some crucial collisions like Khodorkovsky’s affair, Litvinenko’s case or journalists’ and human rights activists’ murders, but the transformation of the political climate in the country is a domestic affair and a job for the opposition itself. In regards to domestic politics, I agree with the position of Dr. Satter, especially about the necessity of the judicial condemnation of Communism. But such a formal statement and an acknowledgment of state responsibility for millions of victims is impossible without the research work of historians based on the archives. The way the present regime hides  from historians and from the public the secrets about the crimes of the Communist system by the hands of the security police reveals the continuity between the contemporary regime and Stalin’s regime.

Despite Russian President Medvedev’s demand to declassify all documents on repressions, the FSB Central Archives and President Archives are still closed to outsiders. I will mention just two examples. 116 volumes of the notorious Katyn’s case (massacre of Polish officers in 1940) out of 183 volumes are still secret and not accessible for Russian and Polish historians. [3] The FSB Archives declined my recent request to ascertain the number of victims of Stalin’s first mass operation in 1927. This information is 83 years old. To separate themselves from the shameful Soviet past, contemporary rulers should first open wide the doors of the archives.

Another necessary condition for the Russian Nuremberg-style trials is an independent court system. In principle, the opposition, public organizations and historians are able now to prepare the formal process. However, no existing court in Russia (all obedient to the Kremlin) would accept such a proposition and next, the verdicts of such trials are open-ended.

As for the publication of the KGB informers’ list (Why only the KGB? How about VChK, OGPU, NKVD informers?), I do not think that this would have a purifying effect on society. Eventually, everybody knew about V. V. Putin’s career in the KGB, but it did not prevent Russian citizens to vote for him in 2000, in 2004 and to support him today. Furthermore, how would public opinion distinguish between the victims who were recruited under torture, as Mr. Preobrazhensky showed, and voluntary agents, like V. V. Putin? As we know now, it was common practice when OGPU consciously arrested innocent people in order to recruit them in exchange for freedom.

More pragmatic was the idea of post-Communist lustration – policies of limiting the participation of former police officers in civil service positions – promoted by Galina Starovoitova in the 1990s. However, in 1998, this potential candidate for the presidency was killed in the staircase of her home by a former GRU (Military Intelligence) officer. Anyway, it’s too late now for such lustration.

FP: Thank you Dr. Velikanova.

I think that the West has a moral obligation to take a public and official stand on the side of the dissidents who are oppressed by the Putin thugocracy. What a tragedy that brave and courageous freedom fighters are killed, beaten and imprisoned in Russia while Obama fails to utter even one  word on their behalf. We know that U.S. and international pressure on despotisms like the Soviet Union and Castro’s Cuba have, in the past, eased the torment and persecution of brave dissidents like Natan Sharanksy and Arnmando Valladeres and eventually won their release. It is crucial that we let persecuted dissidents know that they are not forgotten, that we are with them in their plight, and that we will pressure and confront their persecutors. Let us not demoralize them with shameless silence.

I also think that whatever the consequences would be of publishing the list of KGB informers, that it must be done for its own sake, to give respect to the historical record and to ascertain who was an informer — notwithstanding why and how — and who they informed on and what they disclosed. We will know many of the trees by their fruits.

Buchar: Well, what Mr. Satter is suggesting needs to happen—juridical condemnation of communism, an implicit apology from the government to the victims of communism, and the need to make public the lists of KGB informers. It makes perfect sense but, let’s face it, it is just wishful thinking. It’s a fairy tail. How is it supposed to happen? It will never happen. And if it does, it will be just another part of the deception game that we have witnessed in other former satellite states.

Let me bring as an example how this was done in former Czechoslovakia. The juridical system stayed intact on purpose, protecting players from the former regime. It was part of the deal. An apology from the government to the victims of communism is not going to happen because former communist are embedded in all political parties and in the government. When the list of informers or agents comes out, it’s doctored before the release. Important names are omitted, taken away from the archives while others are planted in to deceive public.

Look at the infamous “Fund Z” ordered by Vaclav Havel when files of all persons involved in politics during the Velvet Revolution were sealed and moved to an undisclosed location. People critically involved in the process usually die under strange circumstances. And if the idea of post-communist lustration sounds good to some, it proved to be a farce as well. Files were doctored, the false certificates were issued to people of special interest and exceptions were allowed in the name of “national interest and security”.

The system will never “fix” itself from inside, the same way as the so-called fall of communism was never a result of rising people’s power. In other words, as Mr. Burakowski said, who is going to implement the really democratic changes? The KGB itself? In the meantime, the clock is ticking. Two out of ten residents of Prague are now Russians. Russians are influencing and controlling businesses, buying real estates, controlling organized crime and influencing politics.

As Jeff Nyquist mentioned, we know by now what is the nature of the current regime in Moscow. Under these circumstances, no change can come from outside. And if it comes from inside, it will be just another move on the chessboard of the big deception game. I agree with Jeff that the key question here is what the Russian regime’s real intentions are. But this is the million dollar question and we may never know the answer till it will be too late.

Robert Gates admitted to me that we never had any inside information from Moscow’s inner circle. And I am sure we never will. But what we can investigate to some extent is why Western democracies, and the US government in particular, are refusing to address this issue. Why is the media treating this issue like a highly toxic substance? The “useful idiots” Mr. Preobrazhenskiy mentioned should be exposed. A new book DUPES written by Paul Kengor just came out, finally revealing to the American public, among other things, Ted Kennedy’s secret dealing with the Soviets. [4]

Some six years ago I asked a former CIA counter intelligence director if Kennedy’s dealing with Soviets shouldn’t be called the treason. He replied, “Yes, but Kennedy is untouchable.” Well, how many “untouchable” politicians are in our government and why is the whole issue of secret dealing with Soviets/Russians is “untouchable”? What is the strategy? Is there any strategy? Does anybody care that we are under attack? What is our defense, if any?

By the way, did you ever hear the American media mentioning that the Russian Mafia is charging Mexican drug lords 30 percent for laundering drug profits from sales in the United States? It looks like the FBI counter intelligence is finally willing to admit that there is a “Russian problem” but the question remains what to do about it and if it’s not too late to stop this avalanche in motion. Historically speaking, there is no evidence that “bad peace is better than good war” ever worked.

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  • geez

    "You have a Marxist Administration in America, and any attempt to investigate their past reveals excessive communist connections". Bingo! That's why this administration hates Glenn Beck, he points it out daily. We must purge this White House (Washington DC) in 2012 or this nation will go the way of Russia. I hope and pray it's not too late.

  • alexander

    yeah……..he "can do it better"…..didn't Hilary say so too (we are talking about socialism)?
    100+ million killed by their own governments still apparently mean nothing…..
    Dethronized Gorby tries to be important joining Algor crowd.

  • Chezwick_Mac

    It is a fascinating discussion. Pacepa's contribution is the most salient, both on over-view and details. For example, he mentions Stalin's deportation of Trotsky…it's interesting to note that once Stalin had implemented his terror against the Party (though the Great Purge started in '37, the show-trials began a year earlier and Kirov was ordered killed a year and a half before that), he regretted his decision to expel Trotsky because the latter was no longer at his disposal to dispose of. It took Stalin until 1940 to kill Trotsky, two years after the last show trial.

    Carr once observed that while Trotsky was "polished zircon," Stalin was a "diamond in the rough". Uncle Joe may have been crude and coarse, but he had an astute understanding of human nature. What he understood above all else was the mechanics of employing political murder…the who, when, how, and aftermath.

    Zinoviev and Yagoda were both arrested and tried for Kirov's murder. The former had nothing at all to do with it; the latter was intimately involved in the conspiracy (acting of course on Stalin's orders). It was part of Stalin's genius to be able to plot a crime and then use its aftermath so adroitly to further his consolidation of power.

    The symposium's main fissure seems to be over Pacepa's insistence that the the Soviet model was a dictatorship of the individual and NOT of the party (Bukovsky/Stroilov take exception). When this discussion was first published, I came out firmly on Pacepa's side. With afterthought, I realize it's not so black-and-white.

    Stalin's personal dictatorship should be seen in an evolutionary context. He had wrested bureaucratic control of the Party by 1927, after defeating his last ideological rivals (Bukharin and the "rightists", who opposed the collectivization of agriculture).

    Internal opposition to the excesses of collectivization began building inside the Party around 1932 (Riutin's "platform"). By '34, the 17th Party Congress essentially repudiated Stalin and his methods, stripping him of his title as 'General Secretary' and consigning him to being one of four Party Sectaries in a new collective leadership (of which Kirov was another). This was the last gasp of independence for the Party. Kirov's murder and the subsequent purges transformed it into the mindless instrument of Stalin's will.

    The Party somewhat regained its power as an institution after Stalin's death. It took Khrushchev a full four years of machinations before he could oust his rivals in the Presidium (the "anti-Party group"). And even then, his autocracy was sufficiently collegial that it didn't prevent his underlings from successfully plotting his removal seven years after that. He claimed in his memoirs that his forced "retirement" was a reflection of his benevolence as a ruler…and he was essentially correct.

    Khrushchev was succeeded by Brezhnev, an instinctively cautious man who ruled by building consensus. This kind of "conservatism", such a contrast from Khrushchev's clumsy attempts to reform agriculture, was ideally suited for an ossifying bureaucratic elite, and contributed to Brezhnev's longevity in power.

    The Party was indeed an instrument of power for the autocrat as Pacepa insists. But it was only Stalin who exercised COMPLETE control over it…and even then, it took him more than a decade after Lenin's death to do so. Pacepa's coloring of this issue may stem from the fact that he was Romanian, living under the iron thumb of Ceausescu, a despot so thoroughly in control that he could defy his Soviet masters.

  • USMCSniper

    Dr Paul Kengor gets it right Jamie. "Liberals in the West woefully exaggerated Gorbachev’s positions and role in ending the Cold War. Their misunderstandings and misrepresentations were based on a fatal combination of wishful thinking, partisan politics, and blind adherence to ideology—an irrepressible desire to credit Gorbachev at the expense of Ronald Reagan. The most important thing that liberals got wrong—even as Gorbachev himself reiterated it a thousand times—was their failure to understand that Gorbachev’s first priority, from the outset, had been to save and sustain the USSR, not to mention the entirety of the Soviet Bloc in Eastern Europe, to the point where he even initially opposed taking down the Berlin Wall. This fact is undeniable, as Gorbachev emphasized in his best-selling 1987 book Perestroika. To this day, he calls the breakup of the USSR his greatest regret. (See, for instance, “Soviet Union ‘should have been preserved,’” interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, USA Today, April 6, 2006.)

  • http://mitspost.blogspot.com Spyridon

    I am waiting waiting with much anticipation to hear Gen. Pacepa's reaction to what is going on in Libya.
    The General knew Qaddfi very well back in the day, and has written about it before. He even helped Reagan when he tried to take him out (unfortunately, he missed)

    (sidenote: Reagan believed Libya had a hand in Sadat's assassination – I wonder if there is someone in the know among these recent defections)

  • USMCSniper

    Great history lesson, one our government trpresentatives never learned. It looks like the Russians fooled us again in nuclear treaty negotiations. After President Obama bamboozled the Senate into a hurry-up ratification of his New START Treaty, Russia impudently rejected the McCain "understanding" that we don't have to abide by the Preamble's language limiting the U.S. from building anti-missile defenses.
    Russia then ratified New START with its own understanding that the points about anti-missile defense are "indisputable" and must not be ignored. Shame on the Republican Senators who voted to ratify Obama's dangerous treaty. Ahhh with the Prince of Fools in charge here, what next?

  • dawning

    Excellent post, salient information. This should be read and passed around to many.

  • Steve Chavez

    "Glasnost and Perestroika" translated into English is "Hope and Change." One led to the downfall of the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union itself. The other will lead to the Downfall of the United States!

    Gorbachev is seen as a hero to the world but hated in his own country! Obama will also be a hero to the world and will be loved in his own country until we go the way of the old Soviet Union with bread and soup lines!

    The American Left, brainwashed by the Communist Party USA, and their Soviet KGB masters, loved the Soviet Union more than their own country!

    Have you noticed the American Communist Left, and their Mainstream Media, are portraying Putin as a "cool" guy? They show Mr. Tough Guy playing the piano, horseback riding, shirtless, bowing children, judo slams, and then on Larry King! Obama and Hillary love the guy! Have you seen the movie "Salt" with Angelina Jolie? It is about Soviet brainwashing and hypnosis at a young age! One word triggers them! Obama is doing the same to our young. "Obama Obama Obama We love Obama."

  • orenbuch

    for my Gorbatchev it's gentlemen,I dont like russia help criminale "assad"!!!Tayyip Erdogan I like,humanity before monney,I dont like,I hate assad,criminale assad,cruel assad!