For the Motherland! For Stalin!

From the history of political protests in the USSR

Lavrentiy Gurdzhiyev

Currently, the majority of Soviet and foreign communists, and generally the Left, have finally established themselves in the opinion that since the mid- 1950s, the revisionist and opportunist line prevailed in the Soviet Union and the world socialist camp. At the XX Congress of the CPSU emerged the schism between the genuinely Soviet and secretly anti-Soviet periods of the history of the USSR. During the so-called Perestroika – it was already openly anti-Soviet and anti-communist. The ideological and practical basis of the revisionists and opportunists all these years was an ominous and disguised synonym for anti-communism – anti-Stalinism, sometimes lurid, sometimes muffled, but never-changing.

The actions of overt and, otherwise, covert counter-revolutionary forces within the Soviet and world communist movements have been thoroughly investigated by historians, economists, and publicists of different countries, and are fairly well known to the progressive public. What is much less studied are the evidences of inner-Party and popular resistance to the outbreak of the Khrushchev counter-revolution.

For a long time, there was an opinion that the members of the party unanimously supported the decisions of the XX and the subsequent congresses of the CPSU. This is not the case. Dissenters were in the minority, but a minority of a fair number. In some primary party organizations – up to 40% of the composition. Anti-Stalinism did not have a full support even in the most subordinate and disciplined structures – in the army party organizations. For the sake of justice, I note that the essence of the anti-socialist reforms that the Khrushchevites were passing was not noticed by many people because of the treacherous Marxist-Leninist rhetoric that concealed the pro-capitalist degeneration of the country. Nevertheless, outrage in the party and among the people sometimes acquired explosive nature.

It should be recognized that in a number of concrete speeches there was an anti-Soviet component. However, most often it was a spontaneous splash of the people’s anger specifically against the violation of Soviet rules and norms by the government. Such protests could not but connect with the name of Stalin, whose image in the eyes of a large number of Soviet people embodied socialist legality, despite all the “exposures” of Khrushchev.

One of the little-known mass protests in support of Stalinism was halfcentury old event that took place in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait. Anticipating its description, I would like to raise an important issue.

Professional liars connect the concept of “illegal repressions” in the USSR only with the name of Stalin, while giving Khrushchev merit for the rehabilitation of unjustly affected ones. What nonsense! Khrushchev, while heading the Moscow regional and city party organizations for five years in the 1930’s, unleashed the real terror against communists and non-partisans, whose victims, according to the most conservative estimates, were over 50,000 people. Stalin hastened to calm the zealous Khrushchev and in 1938 sent him to Ukraine.

Here, as the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the republic, Khrushchev again led the leaders in terms of the percentage of the repressed. His bloodthirsty telegram to Stalin has been preserved. In it, Khrushchev, if not as a psychopath, then, as an undoubted sociopath, resents the fact that Moscow, after a thorough check, approves only 2-3 thousand out of 17-18 thousand monthly sentences pronounced by Ukrainian authorities.

Again, who cooled the pathological zeal of this “humanist” with his hands covered in blood up to elbows? Stalin. Who was the first rehabilitator of victims of despotism and under whose leadership in the late thirties the first mass rehabilitation took place? Of the 1.2 million prisoners in the 180 million country, about 350,000 acquitted persons on political and criminal cases were released. Their innocence was proved unlike a significant number of those criminals who were indiscriminately rehabilitated in the years of Khrushchevism and Gorbachevism. Repressions of the Stalin era are in reality an inevitable, predictable class struggle in the harshest conditions of the imperialist encirclement. Moreover, this is the suffering and death of an insignificant minority, which caused suffering and death to the vast majority. This is the doom of those who brought death to the people. Stalin’s repressions were directed exclusively against anti-Soviet and anticommunist elements who fought against socialism, often with weapons in their hands. Sometimes, the innocent suffered from them – this was the result of ordinary judicial and investigative errors. Occasionally, the number of innocent people suddenly increased sharply – this was the result of intrigues of not yet unmasked enemies of the people. Most importantly and undoubtedly, on the whole, they were a boon to the progressive development of the country and the entire anti-capitalist humanity.

Bourgeois and pseudo-left propaganda keeps quiet about the repression of Khrushchev’s executioners. They are silent about Khrushchev’s elimination and harassment of leaders and rank-and-file, whose ideological orientations were unacceptable for the opportunist and his loyal servants who broke through to power. Khrushchev expelled 70% of the members of the Stalin Central Committee from the top party leadership in the 1950’s. Subsequently, distrustful and vindictive, he changed the composition of the Central Committee by another 50%. He changed the composition of the Central Committees of the Communist Parties of the republics, as well as regional parties, city and district party committees by the same amount multiple times. This was how the vengeance, the beating of cadres, the creation of a sycophant valetry and planting a primitive cult of a primitive personality were done.

Fabrication of criminal and political cases and defamation in press, public moral executions of honest people and their secret murders are indispensable attributes of the repression of the Khrushchev period. The maximum prison terms were given to ordinary citizens for chatter, which Stalin did not pay attention to or punished on the administrative line. People in Tbilisi, Temirtau, Biysk, Novocherkassk and a dozen cities of the country received bullets in response to rallies, gatherings and processions as soon as they protested against the policy that was increasingly anti-popular in Khrushchev’s time.

But what is more important is this. Post-Stalinist repressions are characterized by half-heartedness toward anti-Soviets, anti-communists. Instead, they were – consciously and instinctively! – tough against the Stalinists, who even then represented, and now represent an unprecedented example of devotion to Soviet power and the communist ideals. Unlike bourgeois dissidents, the repressed Stalinists did not whimper and appeal to foreigners for help, did not write libels against our reality. They did not write memoirs about the libel spilled on them, or about tortures administered by Khrushchev’s jailers, about their personal broken fate, for they did not want to throw even the slightest shadow on our state. The state which is no longer there, but to which, as Bolsheviks, as Leninist-Stalinists, they remained forever faithful.

Today they are passing the baton of this fidelity to the growing post-Soviet generation. After all, among this generation – to the alarm and even panic of the domestic bourgeoisie – a great interest is being ripened in the content and forms of life in the Stalin era, which today’s young men and women give a predominantly positive assessment.

I emphasize that the state security organs of the USSR were able to immediately stop the subversive work of pro-capitalist dissidents and their close ties with the West. But, contrary to the widespread myths, they did it sluggishly, and sometimes reluctantly. For during the post-Stalin period, they gradually turned from a reliable and just instrument of the dictatorship of proletariat into a rusty instrument of petty-bourgeois politicking. As a result, instead of sending dissidents to the uncomfortable logging camp, they were expelled to hospitable USA and Europe, where they were deployed in all their anti-Soviet fullness and prowess, causing us even more harm than when they were inside the country. Moreover, there is not a single fact that shows that Stalinists, who were arrested for unlawful actions but of different content, would be repressed in this way. A Stalinist could be thrown in jail, but never was he sent to the People’s Republic of China or the People’s Republic of Albania, i.e. to the states that actively condemned criminal de-Stalinization.

Khrushchev’s lie about Stalin provoked the first major anti-government unrest in 1956. It covered almost the whole of Georgia, especially the capital of the republic – Tbilisi. Former front-line soldiers, leaders of production and honoured cultural figures, communists, members of the Komsomol and non-party people, workers, engineers and teachers, men, women and children came to the streets. Many put on orders and medals. Those people were unfoundedly attributed to be motivated by nationalistic sentiments.

But then, the Georgian youth, brought up in the spirit of Stalinism, raised the following slogan, among others: “The Socialist Fatherland is in Danger!” Tbilisi demonstrators, without any hesitations, were shot. In hindsight they were accused of counter-revolutionary activities. They searched but never found a trace of foreign involvement.

In 1989, in the same Tbilisi, young people, inflamed by the feverish atmosphere of Perestroika, were shouting: “Down with Socialism, Down with the Soviet Union, Down with the Communists!” After waiting, they were dispersed, but no one fired at them. Gorbachev’s power did not even try to accuse them of counter-revolution, although the counterrevolutionary nature exposed itself openly, as a parade. And the foreign special services left their traces in such a way that it was not even necessary to look for them. These were the fruits of upbringing in the spirit of anti- Stalinism.

The scenery and the formal plot remained the same: the capital of Georgia, the manifestation of protest. But how strikingly different were the protestors! After a little more than thirty years, not only did generations and the eventual occasion changed, but so did the charges of social poles. The byproduct of de-Stalinization and bourgeoisization of the Soviet people spilled out. Stalinism is Tbilisi-56. Anti-Stalinism is Tbilisi-89.

Another illustrative pair of similar events: Sumgait-63 and Sumgait-88. So, imagine the industrial centre on the Caspian coast with chemical plants, pipe-rolling and aluminum plants, with advanced machinery and construction materials, with the population of more than one hundred thousand... What happened here on November 7, 1963 during the celebration of the anniversary of the Great October Revolution?

By that time the bacchanalia of the Khrushchevites reached its climax. In 1961 at the XXII Congress of the CPSU, Khrushchev at last fulfilled his vengeance to the greatest Bolshevik after Lenin. Stalin’s body was taken out of the Mausoleum. The last monuments to the leader were demolished, the last cities, streets, collective farms and state farms that bore his name were renamed. For the Soviet mind, such a move meant, at the very least, an unacceptable violation of ethical norms. Disoriented population did not cause an organized mass protest, but the indignation at the domestic level was colossal.

I personally recall an episode of scrapping of a monument to Stalin in one of the provincial cities. Bunches of flowers flew to the monument. A dejected crowd threw them from the rows of a dense police cordon. At that time, gray-haired veterans of the revolution were still alive, who were known in the city in person. “Today they are demolishing monuments to Stalin. But this is only the beginning. Tomorrow they will demolish the monuments to Lenin,” – I, as a schoolboy, did not believe these visionary words of one of the veterans, but I remembered them forever.

Dissatisfaction with power during all the post-Stalin years only ripened. Millions of workers despised and hated Khrushchev, during whose rule the prices were rising and wages – falling, churches were closing and household plots were cut, bureaucrats were disgracing and crime was growing. Even far from politics, poorly educated townsfolk, not penetrating into the nuances of ideology and economics, realized that the USSR had moved away and was rolling somewhere else. With a degree of naivety, they unambiguously painted the picture of life in black and white colours and declared: Stalin was good, and Khrushchev is bad. Well, that’s right. Stalin was a symbol of a better life and a hope for catastrophically diminishing social justice – even for a Russian student, even for anAzerbaijani worker, even for a Georgian intellectual, even for a Tajik peasant...

No wonder, Stalinism was regarded by all as an antipode of Khrushchevism. The struggle between them was not for life, but for death, with the complete and unfortunate advantage of the Khrushchevites, who relied on unlimited possibilities of administrative leverage and on the entire repressive power of the state.

Soon enough, this would result in a very peculiar form of criticism of the regime. In shoemakers’ booths (Stalin was a shoemaker in his youth), on the windshields of cars, on lapels ofjackets, not to mention the people’s apartments, the images of the leader, seemingly already eradicated from the memory of the people, would appear again. However, in Sumgait, something extraordinary happened at the official festive demonstration in honor of the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

Before moving to the place of the event, I will bring a significant fact from an unexpected sphere – that of diplomacy.

On November 15, 1963, the Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to the USSR Carlos Olivares Sanchez was admitted to the Central Committee of the CPSU at his request. This time, it was not about matter of bilateral cooperation, but about the unprecedented complaint of the ambassador. He told Soviet comrades that a few days ago the head of a group of Cubans who were interning at the Sumgait thermal power plant came to the embassy. This leader reported to Comrade Sanchez that the whole group observed anti-state protests on November 7. The interns were stunned by what they saw and heard: portraits of Stalin, anti-Khrushchev speeches. They witnessed how the crowd thundered institutions, shops, police stations, beat party and Komsomol leaders. The head of the Sumgait police was allegedly kidnapped and killed, and then there were clashes with regular troops.

One of the Cubans also suffered. He was attacked when he began to photograph a “strange demonstration” (ambassador’s definition). Suspecting something amiss, the townspeople called him a Cuban informer, a traitor, and according to the ambassador, “threatened to teach him the laws of Caucasian hospitality.” In general, the Cuban students asked to be transferred to another region of the USSR, “away from the Caucasus.” The ambassador, shocked by the details of the incident, which the Cubans called a “Stalinist riot,” worried for the safety of his compatriots. But, apparently, he was even more agitated by the fact that there was not a word in the Soviet mass media about such large-scale political incident.

It is hard to judge how honestly the ambassador was informed in the CPSU Central Committee. But the fact that the party leader of Azerbaijan at the time V. Akhundov was cunning while reporting to Moscow about Sumgait events, is beyond any doubt. He reassured the Union leadership that he personally traveled to Sumgait and talked with the rioters, that there were no devastations there but only minor hooliganism, that a bunch of wreckers had already been imprisoned for 15 days. He allegedly found out that the Cuban intern was beaten not for political, but for routine reasons: that he was courting a local guy’s bride, and he got what he deserved. And in general, supposedly, the Cubans themselves acknowledged the erroneous behaviour of the hapless comrade and changed their mind about leaving Sumgait.

I have no information about whether the Cubans left the Azerbaijani city then. But there are many materials with a comprehensive analysis of many aspects of Stalin-era and post-Stalin-era reality. On their basis, one can safely say:

During the Stalin era, it was almost impossible to distort report-backs and lie to higher authorities. The punishment for such was severe and inevitable. But then with the accession of Khrushchev, lies, concealment of the truth, and fraud became an unpunished style of behaviour of party and state officials, including high-ranking officials.

To the above, we must add the following.

In Georgia and Azerbaijan, the notes of offended national feelings were objectively blended with the social outburst. Georgia could not forgive Khrushchev the political assassination of Stalin and the physical assassination of Stalin’s associate Lavrenty Beria (who was slandered no less than Stalin himself). Both were Georgians. Azerbaijan shared similar experiences with respect to the shooting of Mir-Djafar Bagirov, an equally faithful ally of Stalin and a friend of Beria, one of the outstanding sons of the Azerbaijani people of the last century. An old Bolshevik and Chekist, and participant of the revolution and civil war, Bagirov served as first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan for 20 years. He was arrested in 1956 on charges fabricated by the Khrushchevites, and after the parody of the court was executed. Together with him, a huge number of employees of Azerbaijani party, state and law enforcement agencies, whose only fault was often that they were nominated by Bagirov, were removed from their posts and excluded from the party. Meanwhile, Bagirov enjoyed immense popularity among workers and peasants. After his arrest, entire cities and villages of the republic wrote letters in his defence to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. A popular favourite, Bagirov was the personification of the counterweight to the Khrushchev regime.

In a word, the most violent unrest of the workers took place on the territory of the Caucasus, which ended with a stern crackdown of pro-Soviet, i.e. pro-Stalin masses and individuals by the Khrushchevites. Coincidentally, during his stay in Pitsunda (Abkhazia) in 1964, Khrushchev was isolated and, in fact, involuntarily brought to Moscow, where he was retired at the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU.

While the Kremlin branded Stalin, Sumgait residents showed love for him. In the course of a later investigation, the prosecutor of the Azerbaijan SSR S. Akperov informed the General Prosecutor of the USSR R. Rudenko (stated below):

In the city of Sumgait, it was not the first time that a portrait of Stalin was shown during a demonstration. Such cases already happened at the time of the May Day demonstrations of 1962 and 1963 and the October celebrations in 1962. Demonstrators usually carried small portraits of Stalin or simply postcards with him, which no one interfered with, but this time someone brought a giant cloth to the square.

I repeat that Khrushchevism with its fierce anti-Stalinism reigned in the country, and such indulgence towards defiant sedition – disagreement with official evaluations of Stalin – could be regarded by Moscow leaders as a crime. Local authorities, fearing accusations of indulging the Stalinists, which easily led to the end of their careers, expulsion from the party or something worse, decided to stop, as they expressed themselves, “the wrong folk tradition.”

In other words, they could not stand the nerves. The city government decided to fight with people’s love for Stalin in an unceremonious manner. Police officers, druzhinniki (public activists who helped the police), officials responsible for the passage of columns of demonstrators, were instructed to take away the portraits of Stalin, if they are to appear.

At 10 o’clock in the morning, a procession of columns of workers started along the central square of the city. The orchestra was playing. Slogans and toasts in honour of the CPSU and its leader – the “faithful Leninist” Nikita Khrushchev sounded from the speakers. The self-satisfied “faithful Leninist” looked at the demonstration from his huge portrait, which hung on the facade of the Palace of Culture located on the square. Nothing was breaking solemn order, when suddenly everything went awry. To the shock of the leaders standing on the podium and to the jubilation of ordinary spectators, a portrait of Stalin floated over the columns of demonstrators.

At 11:30 a.m., unrest arose in the square. According to the materials of the Azerbaijani prosecutor’s office, the reason was not even the appearance of this portrait, but the fact that one of the demonstrators was wearing a pin with Stalin on it. The vigilant party functionary tried to pull off the pin. Worse than that. Druzhinniki wrist-locked the “Stalinist” and dragged him to the police car. But the demonstrators were not a timid ten. A lot of them stood up for their comrade. In a matter of seconds, they dispersed the druzhinniki, the boorish functionary was mashed, and the police car was stoned.

This rebuff made a great impression on the column of workers of the pipe-rolling plant. Encouraged by it, the column stopped, turned around, and walked to the podium. Intentions of the column did not bode well for the city officials standing on the platform, so they just ran. Later, justifying themselves, the city officials complained and assured various verification commissions that they had allegedly entered into a peaceful dialogue with the demonstrators, which softened their behaviour.

To the horror of party officials, instead of the usual slogans, calls were made for Khrushchev’s dismissal and the resignation of the Politburo, as well as demands for the supply of food to the population from the loudspeaker. (As a result of market reforms initiated by the Khrushchevites, categorically contraindicated to the socialist economy, the supply situation was in a deplorable state not only in Azerbaijan but throughout the country.) Unscrupulous insults to Khrushchev were heard under approving whistles and ridicules of the arriving columns. But instead, jubilant toasts to the name of Stalin roared from the speakers.

On one of the festively decorated cars passing through the square, as it was said later in a closed information message of the Central Committee of the CPSU, “a young man suddenly sprang up, whose identity is not yet established, and began to wave Stalin’s photograph. A group of druzhinniki tried to call the offender to order. In response to these actions, the crowd formed, numbering about 100 people, and rushed to the druzhinniki. A fight ensued.”

In fact, the crowd consisted first of hundreds, and then of thousands of people, who fiercely resisted the guards of order. Soon, the demonstrators, gaining more and more support from townspeople, went over to a total offensive, and the police retreated. The aforementioned huge portrait of Khrushchev at the Palace of Culture was torn down and torn to shreds. Portraits of leaders of the CPSU, with loud approval of the entire area, were knocked down from the stands.

Soon, a deputy of the city police caught by the workers was brought to the platform. He was packed down, pushed into a bus, and driven to his office – most likely, for negotiations about the fate of several “rebels”, whom the police managed to detain at the very beginning. At the same time, the protesters who climbed onto the roof of the bus shouted calls for an uprising against the Khrushchev regime.

Simultaneously, the sound of broken glass of police stations rang in the air. Police officers hesitated to fire bullets yet, they used their clubs, then they simply locked and barricaded themselves. But the city council (mayor’s office) they could not defend. Furniture, document folders, and even some members of the City Council flew from the windows of buildings seized by the demonstrators.

As for the central police establishment, the residents of Sumgait gathered at its entrance began to break asphalt out of the pavement and to hurl them into the windows and at the guards. Resistance of the shooting guard was broken, and people broke into the service rooms and into the cells where the detainees were held. Two police cars standing in the courtyard were damaged, and motorcycles were burnt.

Later, the police assured that it was shooting in the air. However, not far from the building, a twelve-year-old teen was found with a gunshot wound. He is the only one of the officially registered victims of the attack on the central office of the Sumgait police. There were unregistered victims as well. The total number of20-30 of wounded in those events was estimated by eyewitnesses. It is believed that the authorities concealed the murder of two attackers. In addition, it was officially reported that one serviceman of the internal troops was killed and one more was wounded.

Despite the fact that Sumgait is only 30 kilometres from the capital of Azerbaijan – Baku, local law enforcement forces had to wait a long time for reinforcements. Only towards evening, the armed units of internal troops arrived here, and the riots were suppressed. Until late night, raids and arrests continued, but it was impossible to arrest the entire city.

Khrushchev was furious. There was revolt of the people directed personally against him?! In this he saw the intrigues of organized Stalinists, who craved political revenge. Alas, there was no organized resistance to the opportunist course. If we talk about Khrushchev’s displacement after a year, then, yes, it was carefully planned, but not by the Stalinists, but by the conductors of the same opportunist, revisionist line. Leaving the bridge from 1963 to the future, I will briefly explain.

Khrushchevshchina turned out to be too rabid, too poorly managed by behind-the-scenes puppeteers. If the cult of Stalin’s personality was solemnly majestic, then Khrushchev’s self-bloated cult looked excessively lurid and caricatured. Affairs in the country were getting worse and worse, and Khrushchev was rolling out abroad. With a huge retinue, squandering the people’s money, he visited 36 countries, having visited all continents except Australia. He visited many countries multiple times. Even the most devoted sycophants got tired of the vagaries, fantasies and unpredictable somersaults of the adventurous Khrushchev.

The pro-Khrushchev part of the world’s communist movement also degenerated and decomposed – the XX Congress of the CPSU did not simply disunite, split, but literally ripped and cut it. The foreign Khrushchevites, including those who proceeded seemingly out of good intentions, neglected the behests not only of Stalin, but also of Lenin and Marx, regarding the strictest obligation: to preserve the unity of the Communists as the apple of the eye.

Unfortunately, Khrushchev was not brought to trial for his crimes, but was just fired. He was replaced by Brezhnev in 1964. Having slowed down the catastrophic process of disintegration, the new leadership of the country did not prohibit, but only muffled anti-Stalinism, as an unpopular phenomenon. Dismantling of communist foundations through de- Stalinization in the economy and politics did not stop. The paradoxical Soviet-anti-Soviet training of cadres involuntarily reflected on the mentality of foreign communists and friends of the USSR. Outside of our country, the process of de-Stalinization was “cracked up” precisely under Brezhnev.

Arriving in Sumgait from Moscow under the orders of Khrushchev, investigators of the central apparatus of the KGB accused local law enforcers: a) of failure of their job; b) of an attempt to protect and justify the helpless and dishonest authorities of the republic. According to the Azerbaijani authorities, nothing special happened: just little trouble. According to the version of the Moscow investigators, there was a riot with economic and political demands, and, perhaps, a premeditated insurrection. In their report, even such “trifles” as the mood and talk in the columns of the demonstrators were noted, where no one was smiling or having fun. But they discussed the rise in prices, the shortage of food products, corruption in power structures. And, of course, Stalin was remembered...

Since the demonstration was spontaneous, it was not possible to find the “orderers” of the riot. Six people were sentenced to imprisonment for a period of up to several years as “instigators of the unrest”. Moreover, it was decided to judge them not by political, but by criminal articles. Thus, there was no need to punish the local party leadership, which would have lead to the inevitable and wide publicity of the pro-Stalinist speech of the working people. Furthermore, a wave of discontent and even pronounced political strikes has already rolled across the Soviet Union. It seemed to the Khrushchevites that the best way out of the situation was to hush up the Sumgait history.

Perhaps it is worth mentioning the names of some ordinary participants of the event, preserved in the documents. These are young workers M. Alimirzoyev and Y. Makhmudov, who hammered down portraits of members of the Politburo, a worker N. Shevchenko, who convulsed a police officer, another worker A. Makhmudov who shouted into the microphone: “For the Motherland! For Stalin!” And then – calls for the overthrow of the government. Azeris, Armenians, Russians, Lezgins, Tatars, Ukrainians, Avars, Moldovans, representatives of other nationalities who lived and worked in Sumgait responded with thunderous “Hoorah!”

A. Kerimov’s name is preserved in the archives and sad memories of the party functionary, boorishly tearing off the pin from the clothes of the demonstrator. Even the names of the wounded at the central police office boy – A. Aivazov, and the beaten Cuban student – D. Grant, are known. The latter was beaten, of course, not for the mythical courtship of someone’s girlfriend.

Photographing of an angry mob by a foreigner could by no means be regarded as soothing. Well, what can one expect from the Cubans? Honest little ones, they, to put it mildly, did not understand a thing of Stalinism and completely trusted Khrushchev’s propaganda. At the same time, revolutionary Cuba often behaved in a Stalinist manner on the international arena, and in many respects, in its internal life, it was going on in a truly communist, i.e. Stalinist way. Well, the fact that Fidel Castro was not aware of this and acted in the mainstream of Stalinism rather intuitively than scientifically does not detract from his outstanding merits. Under his leadership, a small island nation stood by the monstrous onslaught of imperialism, wiping off the noses of the three hundred million people of a powerful but surrendered enemy of the Soviet state. Many Cuban Communists are now embarrassed by their former criticism of Stalin and are silent about this unsightly page of their history. Moreover, they to some extent deserve the proud title of the Stalinists. And if some Cubans still do not perceive this circumstance adequately, then again this is due to their inadequate knowledge of the high philosophy of the Marx-Engels-Lenin- Stalin doctrine.

I repeat once again: the fact that the Azerbaijani workers, driven to despair, rushed with Stalin as their rifle, ready to smash the institutions, beat and drive away city officials, is not surprising. Khrushchev personified the failures in the development of the country and injustice, Stalin – successes and concern for the people. Therefore, in reality, the workers did not revolt against, but in defence of the Soviet power. They defended it from Khrushchev, from untruth, from the country’s turning to the capitalist road. Without knowing it, they wanted to save it from the future debacle, committed under Gorbachev.

Therefore, other information, the details of which are buried in secret archives, is not surprising. The working people of Sumgait were going to repeat a similar pro-Stalinist speech on May 1, 1973, the year ofthe twentieth anniversary of the death of the leader. However, this time the KGB was on the alert and preventive measures prohibited the riots. Other factors also played a role in this. In particular, an increased craving for the consumer enrichment of significant sections of Soviet society, their amoralization and depoliticization, the declassing of workers and peasants...

And here it is – the tragic continuation of history. The same Sumgait, February 27-29, 1988.

The same? Oh no. The scene is the same, but the passions are now completely different. Gorbachevshchina reigns in the country, and now the city dwellers, among whom the tone is set not by workers but by semi-criminal elements, are in effect attacking the Soviet power. Outwardly this translates into a wild anti-Armenian pogrom. Armenians were the second largest nation in Azerbaijan. Before the October Revolution, hostilities and clashes between Azerbaijanis and Armenians were permanent. Wise and strictly scientific Leninist-Stalinist national policy liquidated this and other antagonisms. The incompetent Khrushchev-Brezhnev policy revived the conflict, something that Gorbachev took advantage of for his wrecking purposes.

As a result of the Sumgait pogrom in 1988, dozens of people were officially announced dead. In reality, hundreds were killed. Before that, the administrative authorities could not (read: they did not want to) protect the Azerbaijanis from the outburst of chauvinistic sentiments on the Armenian lands. When a resurgence of chauvinistic moods in the Azerbaijani lands occurred in revenge, they could not protect the Armenians there either.

It is more correct, however, to state – and there is plenty of evidence – that Gorbachev and his gang deliberately provoked the Azeri-Armenian slaughter, sabotaged the adoption of emergency measures to curb it. Troops, which were ordered to Sumgait with great delay, were forbidden to use weapons against the rioters. Suddenly it turned out that in a city that was once famous for its internationalism, the population did not have immunity against anti-Soviet, anti-socialist bacilli. Long-standing anti-Stalinism corrupted people.

The manifestations of ethnic intolerance were rare in the vast space of the multinational Stalinist USSR. The dictatorship of the proletariat knew how to deal with any social, national and other evils. But in the fifties this dictatorship, this core of the socialist state, was liquidated by the Kremlin revisionists at the legislative and executive levels.

The Stalin epoch was coming to an end – the new world was coming to an end, and its recoil began. This recoil was dialectical and long. Inside, it was accompanied not only by the senseless and destructive actions and inactions, but also by the periodic leaps of the USSR in development, by phenomenal acts of accelerated creation, by momentary upsurge in culture, science, and technology. Outside, its companions were separate successes in spreading communist influence on the globe. And yet, because of the general decay process caused by de-Stalinization, these leaps became weaker from year to year, occurred less frequently, while failures became more frequent.

A quarter of a century passed between the first Sumgait rebellion to the second. The daring anti-Stalin high life creaked, some were carefully cobbling about rotten, chauvinistic moods. So they cheered up, got prettier, blossomed. Humanism in the post-Stalin state disappeared, brutality returned. Soviet people in diverse parts of their homeland in different ways reaped the fruits of anti-Stalinism. We continue to reap them today on the wreckage of the power. I can say more than that. The anti-Stalin vector of development led the Soviet Union to collapse, which stimulated the unconcealed aggression of the West against the countries and nations that did not obey them, leading to millions of victims. Aggression expands and deepens. Thus those fruits are reaped, in effect, by the whole planet.

Translated from the Russian by Polina Brik. Edited by Kevin Kipp

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