Lev Shlosberg: Rehabilitation. Restitution. Lustration.
One can not forget August 19, 1991. To be exact: one can not forget this long day of 19-20-21 August, which was not interrupted by sleep. The day began early in the morning of 19 August, when breathing seized up from a voice on the radio, and ended on the evening of 21 August, when the pain in the heart lessened.
As for the essence of the developments, everything was simple: they wanted to take freedom away from us and endeavoured to do it. But we did not give it up. Freedom has already come to the light from the minds and hearts and one failed to force it back into a pottery jar.
That day no one could imagine what Russia would be like in 25 years time. To tell the truth, we felt certain that we a sure to live in a free country next century. What else could it be like! One can call us naive, certainly. Yes, I agree, we were naive. We did not expect what was going to take place afterwards.
August 1991 showed the power of the electrical energy of freedom, which was stored within people over the past decades. This generator could rotate the wheels of history. The coup was not organised by free people. But free people defeated the coupists.
That moment, that very moment, one should have continued making history. Very quickly and resolutely. And by legal means. Rehabilitation. Restitution. Lustration [the purging of corrupt officials]. Succession of the state from the Russian Empire. Prohibition of the Communist Party’s activity. De-Stalinisation. The reform of courts. New Constitution. New general election.
The electric energy of people, who enjoyed the air of freedom, allowed to do that. It would have been legitimate not only as a matter of law but also on the level of public conscienceness. Moreover, people were ready for such actions and expected them to take place.
History gave us about half a year to do it. The economic and political situation could not give us more time. There is no turning to some of the decision that one made. History provides quite a small window of opportunities. One should fit it. One should manage to do it in time. One did not simply missed the opportunity in 1991. One did not dare to do it. Some [politicians] did not want to do it.
And this was the moment when we lost. That moment when the foundation of what happened next was laid: economic blow, bandit capitalism, shooting near the Government House [during the 1993 Constitution Crisis], loans-for-shares auctions, criminal privatisation, the Chechen wars, election fraud, default, arbitrary rule in courts, censorship, fear, lies, violence, unfreedom, resignation of Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin, Kursk submarine disaster, YKOS oil company case, Nord-Ost seige [Moscow theatre hostage crisis], terror attack in Beslan, temporary substitute, rally at Bolotnaya and Sakharov Squares, the law of scoundrels [a bill banning adoptions by Americans], “a crazy printer”[The State Duma has been given such a nickname by critics who accuse the parliament’s lower house of having churned out a large number of repressive laws], Crimea, Donbass, Syria.
The price of unfreedom is another history.
The one that could take place at that moment is lost forever.
We live in a country which we gave to the people of unfreedom.
The main lesson of 1991 is simple and cruel: when history gives you an opportunity – make history.
If history favours our generation and gives us another opportunity, I know what to do and how to do it.
Rehabilitation. Restitution. Lustration.
So on down the list.
Only in that case freedom will come not for a day, but for a long time. To be exact, taking into consideration that a human’s life is short, it will come forever.
Posted: August 23rd, 2016 under History.