By sacrificing human rights on the altar of chimeras about the man of the future – free and happy – the Soviet elites had to confront the repressive mechanisms that they applied with regard to the “enemies of the people”. From the time of Leon Trotsky (who forced tsarist officers to serve in the Red Army, taking their families hostage) and of Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky (who used chemical weapons to suppress the Tambov rebellion) up to the time of the protagonists of the heroes of Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet regime had devoured itself. It can be presumed that Gorbachev’s perestroika could have failed in NKVD style if the Moscow putsch of 1991 had been successful, expert Igor Boțan stated in a public debate hosted by IPN.
The standing expert of IPN’s project said the huge discrepancies between the “paper” rights and the real rights led to the dismemberment of the USSR. “This system from the start was doomed to failure because the main builders of this were destroyed by the machinery that they installed and used for their declared purposes. I gave examples that should refresh the memory of those who are nostalgic for the past times... Practically all (Soviet elite) went through this,” stated Igor Boțan.
He noted that Yuri Andropov was the first in the administration of the USSR who tried to break the experienced deadlock. He actually laid the basis of perestroika. At that stage already, when the people could freely express their opinions, the regime was shaking, showing such regimes cannot resist.
In this connection, the expert referred to the current situation in Russia. “My opinion is that even if Russia made progress, the Soviet past left deep imprints. Indeed, all those who communicated with professors in Russia reached the conclusion that these are decent people. But what the regime of Putin, especially the propaganda, did shows how many dangers the exploitation of nostalgia can produce. My conviction is that what Putin does is called revanchism,” said Igor Boțan.
He reminded that two years ago, the magazine “The National Interest” published an article of the Russian leader in which Putin says that after World War I, the European nations treated Germany not fairly enough. “Putin actually justified the German revanchism that followed. Through a series of stances, articles by his advisers, Putin implied that the Paris Peace Treaties (1947), for example, are similar to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, suggesting that the “shameful peace” that was established after the dissolution of the Soviet Union is brought to an end. This means nothing but Russia’s will to recover the lost territories. It happens now in Ukraine, (with unimaginable atrocities) in Bucha, Irpen, Izyum. These are the effects of the use of nostalgia as a propaganda instrument,” concluded the expert.
The public debate “Basic human rights and freedoms in the USSR: Myths and realities” is the fourth installment of the series “100 Years of USSR and 31 Years without USSR: Nostalgia for Chimeras”. The series of debates is staged by IPN News Agency with support from the German foundation “Hanns Seidel”.