Symposium: The Shadow of the KGB

A distinguished panel battles it out over the nature of Putin's criminal regime -- and its true roots.

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  (, and is also president of the Strategic Crisis Center, Inc. (

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.

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.


(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.