Igor Boțan: The Gulag was Bolsheviks’ solution for controlling population’s protest movement

The appearance, existence and amplification of the Gulag camp system was the solution identified by the Bolsheviks after introducing war communism and after seeing that they could no longer control the protest movement of the population, especially peasants, the permanent expert of the project Igor Boțan stated in a public debate hosted by IPN News Agency.

The expert said that after the Constituent Assembly was dissolved in January 1918, workers in St. Petersburg took to the streets because more than 60% of the seats on the Constituent Assembly were won by socialist parties. The Bolsheviks seized power in a coup d'état in November 1917. After the illegal dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, St. Petersburg workers’ protests were brutally suppressed. War communism was later triggered and the radical ESRs, who initially supported the Bolsheviks, began to dissent. Protest movements appeared in the space of the former Soviet empire and Soviet power applied force against these people.

“These were the conditions under which the “Red Terror” was triggered when Lenin’s decree on concentration camps was signed on September 5, 2018. So, this was the solution reached by the Bolsheviks after they introduced war communism, after they saw that they could no longer control the protest movement of the population, especially the peasants,” said Igor Boțan.

He also said that the entire Red Army was set up by Leon Trotsky by taking hostage the families of former Tsarist officers who were put in a position to serve the interests of the so-called “young Red Army”. Therefore, according to statistics, more than 70% of officers in the Tsarist army began to work on the constitution of the Soviet army, and their families were held hostage. “So everything was boiling and in that situation they came up with the idea of forming concentration camps,” stated the expert.

He noted that about 70% of the citizens of Bolshevik Russia at that time were deprived of the right to vote, being considered a priori enemies of the people. As there was a civil war and to keep this fairly large segment under control, Lenin’s idea was to organize concentration camps.

The public debate entitled “The GULAG phenomenon: genesis, manifestation, lessons” was the 28th installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” which is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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