of the book Overcoming Stalin’s Legacy published by the YABLOKO
party took place in the Independent Press Centre on October
Galina Mikhalyova, Executive Secretary of the Political Committee
of the party, said opening the presentation, “The book contains
an unprecedented for this country resolution of a political
party on overcoming of Stalinism, all the discussions and
materials we had prepared based not only on Russian, but also
on foreign, predominantly German, sources.” Human rights activists
also took part in the preparation of this resolution.
Galina Mikhalyova also noted that YABLOKO had already published
several books on Stalinism. In 2007 YABLOKO jointly with the
Memorial society published the book “1937” to commemorate
a sad anniversary of the Great Terror, a CD entitled “Victims
of Political Terror in the USSR” containing 2.5 million names
of the victims of the regime was published also in 2007.
YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin noted in his speech that
these issues of Russia’s history of the 20th century are of
principled importance. According to Mitrokhin, we have been
witnessing revival of Stalinism at present: in the society,
political circles and mass media. He expressed his certainty
that “the state ideologists, political scientists and those
who try to handle public opinion have professional interests
to this topic”, “Stalin is a mobilising figure for them”.
Grigory Yavlinsky, first Chair of the party, member of YABLOKO’s
Political Council, who initiated the resolution on overcoming
Stalin’s legacy said, “None of political parties can exist
outside historical space”. “The party which has no notion
about the history of its country, can not assess this history,
has no vision of the overall development and stages of development
of the country, can not be a politically significant force,
and its decisions will never be important or significant”.
Yavlinsky also told that the lack of work for overcoming
Stalin’s legacy leads to a situation when the country will
be steadily drifting towards it. He said that this system
has two key traits: “the end justifies the means” principle
and confidence of the authorities that “people are dust”.
“These slogans are their practical slogans in the international
affairs and domestic policies,” Yavlinsky noted.
Arseniy Roginsky, Chairman of the Board of the Memorial Society
spoke about fruitful cooperation between Memorial and YABLOKO.
“We do share YABLOKO’s key slogan ‘Authorities Under Citizens’
Control!’, and overcoming of Stalinism is the main means of
realization of this slogan,” he said. Roginsky also drew parallels
between the present period and the Stalin’s era: “The institute
of imitation democracy certainly represents Stalinism, and
direct employment of the allegedly free press by the state
is also Stalinism, Stalinism represents control over all the
spheres of public life, atomization of the population and
fear of joint actions – here is our inheritage of the Great
“If most of the citizens do not overcome all of this, Russia
will not become a democratic and law-governed state,” said
Ludmila Alexeyeva, Chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group and
Chair of the Public Council in Support of YABLOKO’s Campaign
to the Moscow City Duma. According to Alexeyeva, there is
a direct link between stalinisation of the society and economic
problems, “an efficient economy is impossible without independent
court, recognition and respect to private property on behalf
of the state.”
Head of the socio-political research department from the
Levada [Sociological] Centre Boris Dubin agreed with Alexeyeva.
According to Dubin, Stalinism “is not a mood or a trend, it’s
a system, and we shall live on its ruins for a long period
ahead.” Dubin also noted that emergence of Stalin’s figure
always meant that the country was stagnating. The price of
such stability is that 75 per cent of the population do not
trust each other.
In the concluding remarks of the discussion Yuri Afanasyev,
historian and founder of the Russian Humanitarian University
and politician of the perestroika period, expressed his appreciation
of the work done by the authors of the book and called the
book “another necessary step in overcoming Stalinism”.
“Joint work of YABLOKO, human rights activists and academics
for overcoming bolshevism and Stalinism must and will go on,”
Galina Mikhalyova said closing the presentation.