They stopped being shy. Vera Vasilyeva – about the return of repression

Some time ago, there was a report that Oleg Leonov, the deputy chairman of the committee for the development of civil society, social and religious issues of the State Duma, advocates the return of Stalinist repressions and the concept of “enemies of the people”. Recently, at the request of the Ministry of Justice, the Moscow City Court liquidated the “Sova” Information and Analytical Center, which studies the problems of nationalism and xenophobia, as well as the illegal application of anti-extremist legislation in Russia.

It seems to me that this is a direct consequence of the historical amnesia of a significant part of our fellow citizens, when some could not defend the “Memorial”, which protected the memory of the past, of the “Great Terror”, and others did not understand why it is necessary to remember what seems to have already sunk into oblivion. This seemingly insignificant initiative of the deputy once again shows that the unlearned lessons of the past (which were written about, for example, by the head of the Karelian “Memorial” historian Yury Dmitriev) will surely become bloody in the present. And they will affect not only some activists, but everyone who lives on the territory of Russia, and therefore must obey its laws.

There is no longer any need to be shy, inventing something beautiful for camouflage

Yuriy Dmitriev wrote to me about this from the IK-18 colony, where an unjust punishment is being served: “Alas, time is inexorable. There are fewer and fewer people left who saw and knew about the “Great Terror”, dekulakization, telling stories… There are also a few left who could to tell about the national liberation struggle, and in general about the “life” of the people of the post-war Gulag. But the holy place is never empty. Prisons and camps are again filled with current political prisoners. So, soon we will read a new samizdat, tamizdat, and so on to those until democratic power is established. And in order for this happiness to happen, you and I still need to work hard. But I believe – we will win.”

Hardly anyone in the spring of 1991, when the “Memorial” society was registered in the bodies of the then Soviet justice system, could have guessed what would happen in 2022. An eerie symbol of all this for me was a decommissioned section of the wall of a building on Bolshoi Karetnaya in Moscow, selected from the International “Memorial”, where there used to be a sign saying what organization is located here.

The fact that we will be forced to repeat the unlearned lessons of history is a well-known truth, although not everyone is ready to accept it until they face it personally. No less remarkable to me is the second regularity, which few people have paid attention to: in 2003, when the Yukos case was unfolding, which served as the beginning of the destruction of the Russian judicial system (and not only), the process of looting the best and most successful oil company was tried to be shamefully covered up with something decent They talked about non-payment of taxes, theft of all produced oil and the like, although white threads were clearly sticking out. When in 2017, the Seventh Studio filed a case against director Kirill Serebrennikov, some economic and financial reasons were also cited, although it looked rather unconvincing. But they still covered themselves with plausible arguments like a fig leaf.

2022 has apparently changed the situation: there is no longer any need to be shy, inventing something beautiful for camouflage. Director Evgenia Berkovich and playwright Svetlana Petriychuk, authors of the play “Finist Yasnyi Sokol”, which won two “Golden Masks” in 2022, were arrested for their work, a criminal case has been initiated against them. It is possible to speak openly about the necessity of resuming m repressions, which until now have been, if not spot-on, then still local, about the return to circulation of the cult of Stalin’s personality and the concept of “enemies of the people.” Moreover, this is not something emotional, and even more so insulting, but completely ordinary, ordinary, commonly used. This is a norm approved by the state.

Approval of new terrible norms by which we must live – that’s what’s happening. This already happened once in our history, when, for example, the concept of “red terror” was not something out of the ordinary. This not only happened, but they talked about it without shying away. Masks are dropped, animal fangs are under them.

Vera Vasilyeva – Moscow journalist, presenter of the Radio Liberty project “Freedom and Memorial”

Opinions expressed in the “Blogs” section may not reflect the editorial office’s point of view

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