Gorbachev Denounces Putin’s “Sham” Democracy

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror. His new book is High Noon For America. He is the host of Frontpage’s television show, The Glazov Gang, and he can be reached at jamieglazov11@gmail.com. Visit his site at JamieGlazov.com.


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FP: Robert Buchar, thank you for your contribution.

Vladimir Bukovsky and Pavel Stroilov, we have agreed that both of you would offer a comment under a joined byline.  What wisdom would you like to offer to our discussion?

Bukovsky/Stroilov: With the greatest respect to Gen. Pacepa, neither the Soviet regime nor the present KGB regime in Russia have anything to do with the history of Tzars’ monarchy (samoderzhavie). One could have as well suggested that Ceausescu followed the example of Vlad the Impaler. Nor is it correct that KGB, in Soviet times, enjoyed any degree of autonomy from the Communist Party – it always remained, as Lenin defined it, the armed detachment of the Party, the Party’s ‘avenging sword’ which, until 1991, remained tightly controlled.

There is nothing peculiarly Russian about what happened then, with the KGB corporation becoming the strongest surviving splinter of the Soviet system, the best organised gang of marauders, who subsequently captured power. Rather, it was the most grotesque illustration of what happened all over the world, as a result of our failure to condemn communism at a Nuremberg-style tribunal. The old Soviet clients, Petens and Quislings of the Cold War, were left in a position to write its history, and consequently remained both opinion-makers and decision-makers. We see them in power everywhere, be it in the Al Queda or in the White House. You have a Marxist Administration in America, and any attempt to investigate their past reveals excessive communist connections. Like in Russia or anywhere, this has nothing to do with historic traditions, but everything to do with our failure to conclude the Cold War as we should have done.

The entire world is still overwhelmed with the Soviet legacy, and any serious investigation of Putin’s crimes would inevitably lead back to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and put it in the dock where it belongs. Far from being impossible for the passage of time, a Nuremberg-style trial of communism remains the only way for the world to begin a recovery from the horrors of the 20th century. No matter how hard we tried to do it differently, 10, 20, 30 years later, the logic of criminal justice brings us back to the same point: we cannot go on until we find out the truth of what had happened. Passage of time notwithstanding, Cambodia had to put the Red Khmers leaders on trial over 30 years after their crimes and Poland had to put its communist leaders on trial now. Sooner or later, Russia and others will have to follow suit. Without that, any effort to recover would be wasted, just like it has been in the past 20 years.

FP: Pavel Stroilov and Vladimir Bukovsky, thank you.

Let us begin our second and final round.

Mihai Pacepa, your thoughts on the first round?

Pacepa: I want to thank Mr. Bukovsky and Mr. Stroilov for giving me a chance to expand on the Kremlin’s historical samoderzhavyie. I have high respect for Mr. Bukovsky’s heroic fight against Soviet communism, and I fully understand his and Mr. Stroilov’s emotional attachment to Russia—I, too, have warm feelings for my native country. But if we want to help normalize Russia, we should base our analysis on historical reality, not on emotions. And the historical reality is that Russia’s current KGB dictatorship was not born in a vacuum. It is rooted in the traditional Russian cult of the ruler, and precisely in the history of the tsars’ autocracy (samoderzhavyie), despite any belief to the contrary on the part of Mr. Bukovsky and Mr. Stroilov.

In my other life, I—unfortunately—rose to the top of both the Soviet bloc’s Communist hierarchy and the KGB’s community, and I myself became a small cog in the Kremlin’s autocratic system of government. In spite of what Lenin may originally have intended, the political police was neither “the armed detachment of the party,” nor “the party’s avenging sword.” It was the ruler’s primary and personal instrument for protecting and promoting his own power. There was no way for the KGB—or the Romanian Securitate—to be subordinated to the Politburo or any other collective leadership of the Party while at the same time carrying out the leader’s instructions to monitor the microphones installed in the offices and homes of the Party leaders. “Only the Comrade is taboo when it comes to bugging,” KGB chief Andropov told me when I began supervising a super-secret Securitate unit that was charged with electronically monitoring the top party and government officials. The “Comrade” was Brezhnev. “Only Nikolay Andreyevich is taboo for you,” Andropov added. “Nikolay Andreyevich” was Ceausescu.

In 1972, Andropov bragged to me that a party membership card was no longer enough for someone to be promoted to the top of the party or the government, and that a person’s secret affiliation with “us” had become the passkey to prominence. Brezhnev himself had already sworn in, as “deep-cover” intelligence officers, 18 out of the 26 Soviet deputy ministers of foreign affairs and of foreign trade, along with a dozen ambassadors. Those “deep-cover” officers were to be secretly remunerated with tax-free salary supplements, in exchange for obeying “our” military (i.e., intelligence) regulations and orders. That would discipline the party and government apparatus, and it would also put an end to the theft and bureaucratic chaos that had become Soviet plagues.

The concept of the “deep-cover” intelligence officer, Andropov explained, was as Russian as the Kremlin’s onion domes. The tsarist Okhrana had planted its deep-cover agents everywhere: in the central and local governments, in political parties, labor unions, churches and newspapers. Roman Malinovsky, a deep-cover Okhrana agent secretly infiltrated into Lenin’s Communist Party, became the chairman of the Bolshevik faction in the Duma and edited the newspaper Pravda. Andropov was famous for not wasting his breath on chitchat. “All of our sister services should now fall into step,” he told me bluntly.

A couple of weeks after I was granted political asylum in the United States in July 1978, the Western news media reported that my defection had unleashed the greatest political purge in the history of Communist Romania. Ceausescu had fired one third of his cabinet members, demoted four politburo members, and replaced 22 ambassadors. All were deep-cover intelligence officers whose military documents and pay vouchers I had regularly signed off on.

Since Romania’s political police archives began opening a couple of years ago, information on hundreds of other ranking party activists and government employees who had become deep-cover intelligence officers has come to light. If the KGB archives are ever opened—without being sanitized—they will certainly tell a frightening story.

Andropov’s deep-cover officers propelled him onto the Kremlin throne, crowning a five-century tradition of secret samoderahaviye. That tradition started in 1564, when Ivan the Terrible began ruling the country with the help of his Oprichnina, meaning “separate court”, which was in effect a secret political police force answerable only to himself. When Peter the Great ascended to the throne at the end of the 17th century, he set up his own political police, the Preobrazhenskiy Prikaz, so secretly that the exact date of its creation is still a mystery. Peter unleashed his new instrument of power against everybody who spoke out against him, from his own wife to drunks who told jokes about his rule. Peter even entrusted the Preobrazhenskiy Prikaz with luring his own son and heir, the tsarevich Aleksey, back to Russia from abroad and torturing him to death.

Similarly, months after Tsar Nicholas I took the throne, he established the Third Section of his Imperial Chancellery as his secret police, and he institutionalized political crime in Russia. His 1845 Criminal Code, which laid down draconian penalties for all persons guilty of arousing “disrespect for sovereign authority or for the personal qualities of the sovereign,” became the core of the Soviet Criminal Code, and generated the Soviet gulags. At the time of the October Revolution, the tsar’s political police was called the Okhrana, founded in 1881 by Alexander II, and had the power to search, imprison and exile on its own sole authority, a power inherited by all its successors–from the Cheka to the KGB and beyond.

Lenin, who spent most of his mature life in 19th century Europe, home to many political parties, was determined to eradicate Russia’s traditional samoderzhaviye. In his What Is To Be Done?, written in 1902, Lenin stated that in the future Soviet state there would be no place for a police force, much less for a secret police. [5] But in October 1917, when Lenin returned to Russia, he found a chaotic country, and he was constrained to continue the samoderzhaviye tradition. His Cheka’s coat of arms, consisting of a shield representing the protection of the Communist tsar against traitors, and a sword for drawing across those traitors’ necks, harks back to the Oprichnina’s symbol, a dog’s head for sniffing out traitors and a broom for sweeping the country clean of them—not to anything out of Karl Marx or social-democratic Europe. The shield and the sword is still the coat of arms of today’s successor to the KGB, the FSB.

Lenin’s new political police, conceived as the armed detachment of the party, was the Soviet Union’s fastest expanding organization; it started out with only 23 men, but within a year it numbered over 200,000 employees. A 1993 book (Deadly Illusions, New York: Crown, 1993) by British researcher John Costello and Russian intelligence officer Oleg Tsarev, stated that, according to original documents found in KGB archives, in 1921 Soviet Russia counted more Cheka officers than party members. [6]

After Lenin died, his political police stopped being “the armed detachment of the party.” Stalin, who wanted to become an unchallenged tsar, subordinated the political police to himself—just as all the tsars before him had done—and turned it against the most important creation of Lenin’s revolutionary life, the Bolshevik Party. Stalin, who feared competition, started by ordering his political police to liquidate his main rivals. Leon Trotsky, recommended by Lenin to become leader of the party, was exiled, and later barbarically killed. The first chairman of the Comintern, Grigory Zinovyev, was framed as a Zionist spy and shot. The man named by Lenin’s testament as the most capable of the younger generation, Georgy Pyatakov, was also shot. Most members (98 out of the 139) of the Central Committee elected at the XVII Party Congress, hailed as the “Congress of the Victorious,” were also shot as spies. [7] By 1939, seven million party members had lost their lives at the hand of Stalin’s political police, which, behind a facade of Marxism, took secret precedence over the original tools of ideology and the Communist Party for running their country.

On December 31, 1999, Rusia’s president Boris Yeltsin shocked the world by resigning. “I shouldn’t be in the way of the natural course of history,” he explained. “I understand that I must do it and Russia must enter the new millennium with new politicians, with new faces, with new intelligent, strong, energetic people.” [8] Yeltsin decreed that Article 92 Section 3 of the Russian Constitution would be triggered, under which the power of the Russian president would be transferred to Prime Minister Putin at noon on December 31, 1999. [9] For his part, Putin signed a decree pardoning Yeltsin “for any possible misdeeds.” Yeltsin had in recent months come under a cloud of scandals for bribery, and Putin granted him “total immunity” from prosecution, from search and from questioning for “any and all” actions committed while in office. Putin also gave Yeltsin a lifetime pension and a state dacha. [10]

To me, it had all the appearances of a KGB palace putsch. Indeed, soon after Putin became president, former KGB officers took over thousands of governmental positions. To Ted Koppel of ABC television, Putin explained that the KGB men were needed to root out graft. “I have known them for many years and I trust them. It has nothing to do with ideology. It’s only a matter of their professional qualities and personal relationship.” [11] Lies. Blunt lies. That was the beginning of a new, open era of samoderzhaviye. As of June 2003, some 6,000 former KGB officers were holding important positions in Russia’s central and regional governments. Today, over half of Russia’s federal and local governmental positions are held by former KGB officers, and 70% of her current political figures have been affiliated, in one way or another, with the KGB. [12]

I share the view of Mr. Bukovsky and Mr. Stroilov that the virus of Marxism has began infecting the United States. But Marxism and its nauseating, Stalinesque cult of personality are not rooted in the history of the United States, and those evils are being rejected. Most Americans already realize that, if the current Democratic Party has its way, it will transform the United States into a Marxist country in all but name, and during the last November elections they cut this party’s wings. The Russians, however, decided in the last three free elections to entrust the helm of their country to the KGB, which had killed over 27 million Russians.

Now some Russians are blaming the United States for not having tried these KGB hangmen. The United States did indeed win the Cold War, but, unlike other wars, that one did not end with a formal act of surrender and the defeated enemy throwing down his weapons. Therefore, the U.S. was not in a position to organize any kind of Nuremberg trial for the Soviet criminals. But the Russians could have done so, as did the Romanians, who at least executed Ceausescu. He was sentenced to death not because he was a modern Vlad the Impaler, but because he had been educated in Moscow and become a Romanian Stalin who transformed their country into a monument to himself.

A new generation of Russians is now struggling to give their country a new identity. I hope our Symposium will help them. I also hope that Mr. Bukovsky will really be able to run for president of Russia.

Satter: It is understandable that many Russians do not want to dignify the KGB and its predecessors, the Cheka and the NKVD, by treating them as part of the Russian tradition. But as Gen. Pacepa makes clear, the connections are hard to ignore. Of course, the terror unleashed by the Cheka was far more extreme both in extent and depravity than anything undertaken by the Okhrana.

Between 1825 and 1917, 3,932 persons were executed for political reasons in the Russian Empire. The overwhelming majority (3,741) were executed between 1906 and 1910 when the regime was fighting revolutionary terror. The Bolsheviks exceeded this figure in four months. On September 3, 1918, the Bolshevik regime introduced the Red Terror, based on hostage taking and liquidation according to class. In the next 60 days, the Cheka killed anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 persons. Symptomatic was the fate of the St. Petersburg clown Bim Bom who, in 1918, made a few jokes at the expense of the new regime during his act. Cheka operatives burst on to the stage. The audience thought this was part of the act but Bim Bom realized what was happening and tried to flee. As the spectators looked on in horror, he was gunned down. The Cheka also introduced a level of torture and sadism that had not been shown by the Tsarist police.

Nonetheless, the behavior of the first Soviet secret police was not unrelated to Russian traditions. The use of provocateurs, the penetration of society by informers and the resort to savage violence against whole categories of the population all have their roots in Russian experience. In fact, the resort to terror is an inherent possibility in any culture that disregards the dignity of the individual and the denigration of the individual is the red thread that runs through Russian history from Russia’s emergence as a unified modern state to the present day. The repressive methods of the Tsars were limited by the effects of Orthodox Christian culture, and, in a seemingly stable society, the need to resort to them was diminished. The practices of the Oprichniki under Ivan the Terrible, however, always existed as a potential and when the political circumstances conferred a huge advantage on the side prepared to act with maximum savagery, there was no commitment to the value of the individual in Russia capable of standing in the way.

The persistence of a secret police tradition in Russia raises the question of whether there is any point in trying to influence Russian society from outside. The mere fact that Stalin nearly came in first in a recent poll to name history’s greatest Russian is a sign that Russians lack a commitment to their own political self defense.

Despite Russians’ often discouraging lack of concern for their own welfare, however, I think that there are several reasons why the West cannot react passively to manifestations in Russia of secret police rule. In the first place, domination of the country by the security services leads to intellectual and moral stagnation that makes Russia the scene of possible future horrors. The recent race riots in Moscow instigated by young fascists is only the inevitable result of the deliberate fostering of political support for a corrupt and dictatorial regime with the help of youth groups like “Nashi” (“Ours”) that draw a strict separation between Russians and everyone else.

Secret police rule in Russia needs to be resisted by the West also because it leads to an aggressive and unpredictable Russian foreign policy. If Russia is run by a KGB oligarchy in that oligarchy’s own interests, the rulers will have a permanent vested interest in rallying the population against the threat from the West. This means that campaigns against U.S. missile defense and support for Iran are not accidents. They spring inevitably from the need of the leadership to maintain a state of tension in the world in the interest of its own preservation.

Finally, the West needs to resist Russian KGB led authoritarianism in order to preserve the possibility of democracy in Russia in the future. All too often ignored is the need of the West to create moral capital with the citizens of repressive regimes. In the case of Russia, this should be done in anticipation of the day which must come when the present regime loses all legitimacy in the eyes of the population. At that time, it will be important that Russians do not believe that the regime had Western collaborators. In this regard, nothing is more self defeating for the U.S. than such ill advised joint commissions as Gore-Chernomyrdin and McFaul-Surkov.

Despite the statements of so called “realists” the world really is intertwined and the triumph of the secret police anywhere is full of danger for the moral consensus on which civilization depends. This is nowhere more true than in the case of the triumph of arguably the most blood stained security police in history, the Russian KGB.

Burakowski: I agree to some extent with Mr. Bukovsky and Mr. Stroilov in that the Communist regime in Russia was not a continuity of the Russian tradition, but rather something completely new. Communism did not originate in Russia, and the consequent dictators made tremendous efforts to eradicate the traditional values of the pre-revolution society. The Orthodox Church was destroyed, the clergy killed and persecuted. Whole classes of society (e.g. rich peasants), as well as part of more independent communities, were virtually extinguished. The industry and commerce were nationalized, private property banned. Moreover, the cultural legacy of Russia, or at least the major part of it, was condemned. At the same time, national values and aims were changed to international ones. The main goal of the USSR was to bring proletarian revolution to everywhere in the world and, at least until a moment in time, the communist parties were following the directions from Moscow even if their local interests were against it. Take for example the Indian communists: after the USSR allied with the UK during the Second World War, they rapidly became loyal to London and gave up all the anti-colonial claims – this move cost them a lot of credibility among society which, back then, was in major part anti-British. The goal of the communist revolution overruled their basic survival instinct. The same thing happened in Russia itself – the worldwide victory of the revolution was more important than national interests. This was something completely unknown to Tsarist Russia.

But Gen. Pacepa and Mr. Satter are also right when they stress that some methods of Russian communists were just extended methods used by the ancien régime. It is not only secret services, but also some propagandistic claims, presenting Russia and the Soviet Union, as a guarantee of world peace and order. The same slogans were used in the 19th century, in the debate on Europe and Russians having a role in dealing with “hooligans” like Napoleon Bonaparte.

Still, I wouldn’t call today’s Russia a mixture of Tsarist and communist regimes. I see it as a new form of autocracy with global aspirations, but with no ideology behind it. It appears to be purely power-oriented, aimed only at economical and political expansion. There are no ideological goals, neither national nor universal. This is probably a better situation for the world than it was before, since communism is, in my opinion, the most evil idea that appeared on this Earth. But at the same time, no clear goal of the present regime means also no limitations. The rulers of today’s Russia have nothing to propose to anybody, they just want to expand, to dominate and to execute their power in every corner of the world, where it is only possible.

Let me end with rather a sad conclusion. The glorious Roman Empire eventually fell, about fifteen hundred years ago, but we still see its remnants everywhere. It’s all around us, in the code of law, in architecture, in arts, even in the language. The presence of the Roman legacy is overwhelming. In my opinion the legacy of the USSR and communism may also prove to be extremely long-lived. Communism affected the thinking, the mentality of entire nations and generations. But, contrary to the Roman Empire, the Soviet Empire has not created anything positive, so the remnants of it could only be negative. I cannot exclude that centuries from now people will still believe in some lies invented by the communists, and some offspring of the KGB will still be active.

Nyquist: In discussing the nature of the Russian regime people sometimes fall into disagreement about the legacy of autocracy and secret police rule in Russia. Obviously, the Soviet state represented a break with the tsar’s autocracy in terms of fundamental values, and in its bloodthirsty ruthlessness. But the legacy of the autocratic regime was nonetheless significant; and, as Gen. Pacepa points out, the importance of the political technology of the secret police is a key element of the whole. When you fight against something there is always the danger of acquiring its characteristics. Lenin called into existence a conspiratorial revolutionary party, because conspiracy was necessary in the face of the tsar’s secret police. Perhaps we can all agree that the Soviet regime was a political hybrid which borrowed from the Russian past to supplement the nightmare of a Communist present.

Many excellent points have been made in our discussion, including the idea that the KGB has corrupted the very language we are using right here, right now. We are confused about basic concepts, definitions — about the nature of Communism. In his remarkable explanation, I believe Gen. Pacepa was making a key point: namely, we should not credit Communism as an idea. Karl Marx did not believe in Communism. He was a cynical man who didn’t believe in anything, and the same may be said of Mao and Stalin, or any of the truly effective “Communist” leaders. Karl Marx wanted to be dictator of Germany, and created his ideology for the sake of building a new kind of power — mainly for himself. He was not a humanitarian, but a would-be political murderer who failed to take office. Marx once said there was nothing grander under heaven than the mind of a criminal. Is it any wonder that Marxist regimes belong more to the lumpen proletariat — to criminals like Stalin and Kang Sheng – than to the real working class? And is it any wonder that such a regime should degenerate into a criminal police regime, working hand-in-hand with its own global mafia?

Mao said that “Marxism-Leninism is better than a machine gun.” He did not mean that Marxism-Leninism is true. A machine gun is not truth. It is a weapon. So I say again: We should not credit Communism as an idea, but only as a weapon. Each decade after 1917 the weapon was modified according to the requirements of the moment. So flexible is this weapon, and so ready to dispense with outward labels and names, that even when people have been inoculated after living under totalitarianism, the totalitarian organism mutates and re-infects them once again. As previously indicated, this organism is not an idea but an emerging criminal class whose cynicism is as limitless as their ambition. By fixating on Communism as an idea, many of us have lost our way upon the deceptive surface of a phenomenon that continually redefines and re-invents itself: From the dictatorship of the proletariat to the state of the whole people it is the same criminal organization at work. Now they are talking about ”one common European home” and “Europe from Brest to Vladivostok.” It is merely the latest incarnation of an old criminal program; namely, to rule Europe.

The intentions of a regime may be read in its strategy, in its movement toward certain preliminary positions. This is not merely a Leftist movement. The KGB has infiltrated and influenced the European new Right, the American conspiratorial Right, the Islamic fundamentalist Right, and countless organizations representing every shade of opinion. People across the political spectrum are beginning to repeat ideas that were current in Pravda during the 1960s. This cannot be a coincidence. And what are the regime’s intentions? The answer should be obvious: To remove the one thing on earth that holds it in check; and that is the United States of America. Ask yourself why Russia currently arms China, Iran, Venezuela, Syria and other anti-American regimes? Why has Russia facilitated the proliferation of nuclear, biological and missile technology to anti-America states? What is behind Russia’s role as the capital of international organized crime, money laundering and drug trafficking? There is a great snake, with the name anaconda, that coils around its victim and crushes the victims bones in order to prepare the way for digestion. This is what I believe the KGB is doing today.

It was earlier suggested that we must engage and negotiate with this predatory monster. The unstated justification for “engagement” is because Moscow is holding hostages — political dissidents and average citizens who want a normal life. If we do not negotiate with the criminals, the hostages will be harmed. Not only this, but the regime’s nuclear arsenal makes hostages of us all. While police in most countries refuse to negotiate with hostage-takers, the basis of the West’s global policy is exactly the opposite, thereby making weapons of mass destruction the most attractive tool in the totalitarian toolbox. Meanwhile, we have convinced ourselves that negotiation and appeasement are unavoidable. How else can we avoid a nuclear war? It is a clear case of extortion and nuclear blackmail, effective and ongoing. Ask yourself: When will it end? How will it end? Over time, the blackmailer erodes the strategic position of his victim. Finally, his victim becomes helpless. Moscow can then exterminate the most troublesome hostages, which may include entire nations — especially if those nations threaten to emerge from helplessness. Please remember: This is a regime with no morality, for which mass killing is a form of reassurance. It is proof, writ large, that the regime’s power is effective and real.

I do not think we have appreciated how flexible, resilient and persistent a totalitarian formation can be. Forming a partnership with such a regime leads to a process that gradually weakens the West through compromise. Reagan had the right idea when he waged economic warfare against the Soviet regime during his first term. He made a mistake when he began to deal with the “evil empire” in his second term. It was through this process of engagement that we saved the totalitarian formation in Russia. By now, at long last, this must be clear.

Preobrazhenskiy: I agree with Bukovsky’s/Stroilov’s opinion that the high price of moral self-destruction with which the West is paying Russia is a result of our failure to condemn communism at a Nuremberg-style tribunal. It is a result of Western political correctness.  And I am afraid the West has been punished forever, as the KGB will never yield the state power to anybody in Russia.  And there is nobody to take it there. Russian opposition is weak, the FSB is playing with it as a cat plays with a mouse.

Also I agree with Dr. Burakovsky saying that the people in the Kremlin today have no ideological goals, anything to propose to anybody; they just want to expand, to dominate and to execute their power in every corner of the world. Unfortunately, not so many people in the West have allowed themselves to understand this.

I fully support Dr. Buchar’s opinion that the principle “bad peace is better than good war” ever worked. This principle is translated into the current Western political language as “real politics.”  It is a hypocritical policy of closing our eyes on Russian interior situation.  It is helping Putin to accomplish the hidden aim of his program, which is: “Oil for democracy.”

Western hypocritical policy is returning back there as a boomerang and it damages their own democracy.  The destruction of Western democracy and lowering it to the Russian level is Putin’s main goal. And he is achieving it very successfully. Western democracy is really fading under Russian influence now.

The core of world democracy is rooted in America. There is no wonder that Russia wants to diminish America first and foremost. I think Dr. Nyquist is quite correct saying that Russia want to remove the one thing on earth that holds it in check; and that is the United States of America.  But does America realize it? That is the question.

Velikanova: Some visions of Russia presented here have survived from the Cold war period. Since then the world, Russia itself and the balance of forces in the world have changed drastically. The Communist idea has been very much discredited by the failure of the Soviet experiment. The role of modern Russia in the alleged “world anti-American conspiracy” is too much exaggerated in the minds of the esteemed discussants. At the end of the XX century Russia was relinquished of its role as the major opponent to the Western civilization by other challengers. The world now faces much greater dangers from radical Islamic groups than from KGB agents (even at the head of Russian government). However, with different views on the nature of the modern Russian political regime expressed in our discussion, we all agree that the West is obliged “to resist Russian KGB led authoritarianism.”(Satter) The problem is by what methods. I want to focus on that now.

There are several potential means in the arsenal of the Western governments. First, there is a moral pressure on Russian government through the official condemnation of the most outrageous cases like Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s trial, the impunity in many cases of the journalists’ murders  (for example, Anna Politkovskaya case), or the case of Sergey Magnitsky’s death. Such Western denunciations of the Russian corrupt legal system and violations of human rights do take place. Of course, we can doubt how effective such measures are in the case of insensitive Russian leaders, who now play a game of “kind and cruel interrogators”(KGB tactic of interrogation), turning the intelligent face of Dmitry Medvedev to the West and the KGB face of Vladimir Putin to the Russian dissidents and citizens.

Another tool is legal. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg often remains the last hope for justice for many Russian citizens. The European Court has now the largest amount of the complaints originating from Russia. As a result, the Russian government has to pay huge penalties to the victims of injustice according the European Court verdicts. The claims of foreign shareholders in Yukos (Khodorkovsky’s oil company) are under investigation in the international court now. The cases of “spy” exchanges (example: the summer exchange of  alleged “spy” a scholar Igor Sutiagin for Russian spies in the USA ) are also channels to defend innocent victims of Russian Themis, but at the same time, very individual and irregular.

One more instrument of showing a firm stand is the recent precedent of the Senator Cardin list. When the lawyer S. Magnitsky, who had exposed the $230 million corruption affair in the Police Ministry, (MVD) died in prison after being deprived of medical care, Senator Cardin in the Spring 2010 demanded that the State Department “immediately cancel and permanently withdraw the U.S visa privileges of all those (60 officials) involved in this crime, along with their dependents and family members.” This motion was approved.

This new tactic of the Western governors was enforced in response to the shockingly harsh verdict pronounced by the Moscow puppet court to M. Khodorkovsky and P. Lebedev on December 30, 2010. The European Parliament recently recommended to the Western governments to block visa privileges to the officials involved in this caricature trial. Moreover, the European Parliament suggested to block their accounts in the Western banks and to enforce sanctions on their property abroad. This tactic can be more successful as it strokes material interests of the corrupted officials. They like to invest their dirty incomes into European or American assets. I hope that other similar more or less “elegant” sanctions could be found in resisting the authoritarian politics of modern Russian government.

In the arsenal of the state international means there are also economic sanctions, as a very severe instrument. Should Britain forbade BP to deal with Rosneft’, which had been a beneficiary of the Yukos (state raider’s) bankruptcy? (As for private business, realists can’t expect that it would miss profit while defending human rights in Russia.) It’s obvious that the Western governments prioritize more pragmatic politics of cooperation and negotiation with the Russian “monster”(in words of Mr. Nyquist) in diplomatic and strategic spheres and demonstrate a kind of the shyness in the humanitarian field.

Outside the inter-state and private business sector, there are strong public resources, which play a huge role in defending human rights in authoritarian countries. The public can do a lot by raising its voice to express the opinion on the Russian affairs and the stand of American politicians toward it. We can’t neglect the function of public opinion in pressuring the governments. One example of this occurred in 2009, when Russian president Dmitry Medvedev created the Commission to Counter Attempts to Falsify History to the Detriment of Russia’s Interests. It was a Stalinist-like state intervention into the historical profession and an imposition of boundaries on historical study with the goal to promote the state view on the Soviet past. Due to the critique in the Russian and Western medias, including the statements of the American Historical Association and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, the Russian government on January 15, 2010 declined the bill suggesting that “falsification of history and rejection of the role of the USSR in the victory over Nazism” should be a criminal offense introduced by the party United Russia.

Here I would like to confirm my position and support the FP comment that the Western governments should strengthen the politics of moral and judicial pressure on Russian authorities. But the main job of the condemnation of Stalinism and its legacy should be done at home, by the Russians themselves.

Buchar: The failure to condemn communism at a Nuremberg-style tribunal will haunt us forever. But on the other hand this could never happen anyway because it wasn’t part of the scenario and either side didn’t have any desire to do it. It wasn’t on the agenda of international finance obsessed with the idea of globalization. It wouldn’t be good for business.

There is no question that the destiny of nations are shaped by the history, traditions and peoples’ mindset. I think that everyone has realized by now that democracy can’t be exported or forced on any nation only because we believe in it. Every nation has to grow to it gradually on its own and there are no shortcuts. Free elections can’t bring any good if bad guys and manipulated masses are in the majority. Identities of nations are shaped by its citizens.

The problem for Westerners to recognize who/what the danger is comes from the inability to define it the way everybody can understand. When I was living in communist Czechoslovakia we had one universal label for our enemy. We called it “Bolshevik”. Marxism, communism, socialism, secret police, Chekism, all our enemies, were simply “Bolshevik”. Westerners need exact definitions. Obviously, the ideology of communism seems to be dead now for the majority of people. They have no idea what Cheka stands for and nobody can grasp what the danger really is and why we still should fear Moscow.

In the meantime, memories of the past are fading out fast. Czech journalist Sasa Uhlova set up recently an experiment posting on Facebook the question “What are your memories of communism”? The overwhelming majority of responses were positive memories! Twenty years after the “fall” of communism people are remembering mostly positives and forgetting all negatives. After the fall of the communist regime, the Communist Party was seen as the party of “retired people,” the party that will slowly dissolve or “die out”. What a surprise. Twenty years later here comes the resurrection, and the communist party is growing by thousands every year gaining young people 20-40 years old.

It is obvious, I guess, that the old objective, the worldwide victory of the revolution is, in a way, still alive and well. It didn’t go away. It just morphed a bit. It may, perhaps, lose its ideological goals, but the global aspiration didn’t disappeared. As Adam Burakowski mentioned, thinking and mentality of entire nations and generations were affected by communism, which leaves them extremely vulnerable to further manipulation.

Olga Velikanova believes that the role of Russia in the alleged “world anti-American conspiracy” is too much exaggerated in our minds, saying the world now faces much greater dangers from radical Islamic groups. I would suggest a look back and a realization of who seeded the anti-Americanism in Islamic world. People forget that it was the KGB who after WWII ended up spending a lot of effort to take over the German intelligence network in the Arab world and that infiltrated intelligent services there. It was the KGB that started to manipulate them to advance the Soviets’ own agenda.

It was Moscow’s Institute of International Relations that made in the 1960’s the Middle East the key to be the breaking back of Western imperialism. The KGB flooded the Arabic world with agents penetrating even the Islamic clergy, supporting everybody so long as they were strongly anti-American. It was the Kremlin that established in early 1970’s “socialist Division of Labor” and jumpstarted the Islamic Terrorist war against the United States. Ion Pacepa can talk about that for a whole day.

I would also point out that while everybody talks all the time about the KGB, there is also the GRU, the organization with six times more agents worldwide than the KGB has. The moral pressure itself can’t swing this tide from its path. So, I guess, the key million dollar question remains: Can anything be done to slow down, to detour, to stop this pressure to change this course to weaken, breaking America down and making it into another EU and opening the door for creating a new world order of “peaceful” global management?

FP: Vladimir Bukovsky and Pavel Stroilov, last words go to you.

Bukovsky/Stroilov: This has been a lengthy discussion, mostly of Russian history, and we hardly hope many American readers will reach our final remarks. Yet, the issue is not unimportant. If today’s Russians are right to call Putin’s regime an “occupation,” if we are right that Putin’s junta is a surviving gang of marauders from the worldwide Marxist crusade, then something can be done about it. If we are talking about a historic tradition, so deeply rooted in Russian genes, stars, or wherever your fancy places it, that even the Bolshevik revolution could not destroy it – nothing can be done.

We can assure Gen. Pacepa that our analysis is not in the least colored by emotion, patriotic or otherwise (this kind of criticism is, indeed, very novel to both of us). On the contrary, it is the theory linking KGB to historic traditions that is irrational and mystical, like President Nixon’s fantasy about the ghosts of Russian Tsars wandering in Kremlin and influencing Soviet foreign policy. How, in practice, could the tradition of Ivan the Terrible survive to influence Putin? As Adam Burakowski rightly points out, the Bolsheviks outlawed any Russian traditions whatsoever and physically destroyed whole classes where they could have taken root. They did not construct a “hybrid” of Russia and Marxism; they deliberately constructed a Marxist anti-Russia. The plain historical fact is that we inherited the KGB not from the Tsars, but from the Soviets. Generally speaking, it has much in common with Oprichnina or even Okhranka. But it has just as much in common with Vlad the Impaler or those who crucified Jesus Christ.

The “historic traditions” theory has been disproved time and again over many decades – even Vladimir here wrote much about it in his 1989 book USSR: From Utopia to Disaster. And yet, alas, it does not die – because it is convenient to everyone. With this theory, the intellectuals don’t have to recognize the KGB and Gulag as legitimate children of their utopia. Moscow’s sympathizers invoke it in mitigation, like a provincial lawyer who invokes the hard childhood of his client in mitigation of his crimes. Putin and company simply love it, because it gives them historic legitimacy where they have none. Those nations who were lucky enough to survive the 20th century without being taken over by communists are flattered by the implied superiority of their civilization. Those who were taken over by communists can forget the inconvenient fact that, Moscow’s influence notwithstanding, most communist crimes in, say, Romania, were committed by Romanians and not Russians. In brief, all of us are relieved of our responsibility, since all responsibility is now laid on one man: Ivan the Terrible. And he no longer cares. Nor can we put him on trial. It makes much more sense to blame Adam and Eve, who started all this mess by eating the apple.

Romantic and nationalist thinkers of the 19th century fancied some vague national gods whose whims determine the national destiny. But in the material world, the theory that tyranny or freedom are matters of historic tradition, and therefore either of them comes naturally to a nation, does not hold water. You cannot find any credible explanation why English, Americans or Swiss seem to like democracy, whereas Russians, Arabs or Chinese seem to like dictatorship. Attributing this to national “traditions” or “mentality” is just as well as attributing it to stars, gods, or ghosts.

In practical terms, this is dangerous nonsense. It is nonsense, because no nation can naturally prefer tyranny to freedom. No man – and therefore no nation – likes to be arbitrarily imprisoned, tortured, robbed (taxed), or silenced. Not even Russians, some will be surprised to learn. People can let Putins and Obamas come to power out of apathy or out of illusions; but no nation ever consciously chooses a despotic government. Tyranny only wins by coercion, intimidation, deception; and then maintains itself by force. Otherwise, indeed, it would not need to be tyranny.

And that theory is dangerous – not simply because it leads to disastrous mistakes in dealing with such regimes as today’s Russia, China, Iran or Egypt. Above all, it leads the West to complacency and false sense of security about its own future. If the freedom comes to Americans just as naturally as dictatorship comes to Russians, there is no need to make an effort and defend your freedom from Obama, Osama, or indeed Russia. And then, when the tyranny comes to disprove your elegant theories, it will be too late.

If you look at the history of any nation without cherry-picking for your theories, you won’t see people clinging to their historic traditions. You will see everlasting battles – between tradition and innovation, between believers and skeptics, and indeed, between freedom and tyranny. They come in different shapes; but in no age, in no land had this battle ever ceased. For the past hundred years, it has been one worldwide battle. It goes on today in Russia and America, like it goes on in Iran and China; and we all share responsibility for its outcome.

Notes:

(1) Garry Kasparov, “KGB State,” The Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2003, Commentary.

(2) Yevgenia Albats, The KGB: The State Within a State, (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1994), pp.23.

(3) Novaya Gazeta, November 8, 2010.

(4) Paul Kengor, “DUPES”, ISI Books, p.497

(5) V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution. (London: Allen & Unwin, 1919), ch. 5, pts. 2 and 3.

(6) John Costello and Oleg Tsarev, Deadly Illusions (New York: Crown, 1993), p. 24.

(7) “Izvestiya TseKa KPSS” (Repoerts of the Central Committee of the CPSU), No.3, March 1989.

(8) Barry Renfrew, “Boris Yeltsin Resigns,” The Washington Post, December 31, 1999, 6:48 a.m.

(9) Matt Drudge Report, December 31, 1999, 11:00 AM UTC.

(10) Ariel Cohen, “End of the Yeltsin Era,” The Washington Times, January 3, 2000, Internet Edition, cohen-20000103.

(11) Michael R. Gordon, “Putin, in a Rare Interview, Says He’ll Use Ex-K.G.B. Aides to Root Out Graft,” The New York Times, March 24, 2000, Internet edition, p. 2.

(12) According to Gary Kasparov, “KGB State,” half of the Russian governmental positions are held by former KGB officers. The Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2003.

*

To get the whole story of why left-wing U.S. administrations like Obama’s are soft on despots like Putin, read Jamie Glazov’s United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror.


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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!