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Interview: Aleksandr Cherkasov On The 75th Anniversary Of 'The Great Terror'

Communist supporters stand in front of portraits of Josef Stalin as they mark Victory Day in Moscow in May 2012.
Communist supporters stand in front of portraits of Josef Stalin as they mark Victory Day in Moscow in May 2012.
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Russian historians and human-rights activists mark a grim anniversary this week with the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Terror under Soviet leader Josef Stalin. On July 2, 1937, the Soviet Politburo sent telegrams authorizing regional party organizations and branches of the secret police, the NKVD, to compile lists of potential enemies of the Soviet regime so they could be rounded up and executed. Aleksandr Gostev of RFE/RL's Russian Service spoke to Aleksandr Cherkasov, chairman of the human rights organization Memorial, about the Great Terror and its meaning for Russian society today.

RFE/RL: After decades of research, including Memorial's work, is there anything about Stalin's Great Terror of the late 1930s that remains unknown, untold to Russian society?

Aleksandr Cherkasov: Plenty is known about the mechanics and ideology of the great terror, but unfortunately [this information] has not become widely known. Every regional branch of the Interior Ministry received coded telegrams with an order to rearrange the personal files [of future targets for arrests] so that each of them could be located easily. Each regional branch reported back the number of so-called kulaks and members of other listed categories. Regional security chiefs were then summoned to Moscow where [Soviet security chief Nikolai] Yezhov and his first deputy talked to each of them individually. During those meetings regional security chiefs were handed arrest quotas that already exceeded the number of reported kulaks and other 'formers.'
Aleksandr Cherkasov, chairman of human rights organization Memorial (file photo)Aleksandr Cherkasov, chairman of human rights organization Memorial (file photo)
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Aleksandr Cherkasov, chairman of human rights organization Memorial (file photo)
Aleksandr Cherkasov, chairman of human rights organization Memorial (file photo)

Nobody ordered any falsification directly, but if you had 500 kulaks in your region and you were required to arrest and execute 1,000, then in effect it meant that [regional authorities] were required to falsify cases, even though formally speaking each case had to be investigated according to the law. Therefore, from the very beginning the Great Terror was grounded in lawlessness. There are statistics, but they have not been made public properly. No correspondence has been published between the central secret police apparatus and regional branches where local officials competed to meet requirements and asked for new quotas for executions because they knew that if they failed this competition, they would be considered enemies of the people too. All of this information is available, but it hasn't yet become widely known.

RFE/RL: We all remember the great interest and great concern with which society discussed this theme at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s. Later, society became less interested. What happened?

Cherkasov: At the end of the 1980s, our history became a substitute for politics. Political activity was not allowed. And as politics was substituted by literature, discussion of our recent past became a surrogate. Later, when it became possible to hold elections and form political parties, interest [in looking at history] faded. Moreover, after August 1991, many thought the problem was simply solved: "It's over. We have replaced October 24, 1917 with August 22, 1991 and now we'll live happily ever after." But this was not so. We've seen how those in power are returning us to this past. The post-Soviet masses are psychologically under the spell of the Soviet past. We need to resume the discussion of these issues. But, regrettably, history is used by the state. And they use it to justify their not-so-legal practices and their not-so-legal laws.

RFE/RL: The terror that started in 1937, of course, didn't begin on one day or one month. The machinery of repression was built up over time. It wasn't that people were living fine one day and the next day they woke up in the gulag. Does that transition period have any resemblance to the present? Can the Great Terror ever be repeated in Russia?

Cherkasov: They say that generals always prepare for the last war and politicians are always ready for the past to repeat itself. The legal proceedings against those who participated in the demonstrations on May 6 somewhat recall those leading up to 1937. The mechanism played a role in the Great Terror. It made it possible to condemn a massive amount of people in a very specific and nonjudicial manner. Mass case files were compiled because this was easier than looking at each case individually. A mechanism was established that made the terror easier to carry out later. After the departure of [Soviet security chief Nikolai] Yezhov this practice stopped. But the machine's wheels were already moving quickly. Now, to speak about a return to the past we need to speak not only of those in state structures, but also at institutional and social habits. When a person ends up on some kind of list, he can become the subject of judicial repression later. By forming such categories in the past, the authorities made anybody who was suspect in the 1920s and 1930s vulnerable to repression after 1937-38.
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Comments
     
by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
July 02, 2012 18:09
Nice interview and keep up the good work. Can anyone tell me how the new, effective Minister/manager of Culture (Medinsky) views the ‘Great Terror’? I would not be surprised if he viewed this tragedy as yet another western distortion of history to weaken the Russian authorities, and that the new Culture Minister directs that this chapter in history be referred to as ‘the liberation of Russian peoples’ (from earthly existence) .

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 02, 2012 20:27
Absolutely total lies by Russia and 1954 pact,
Blessed by the Quin Mother and joined by Bechtel:
Blame Stalin, Prliament of nations and non-Russian to act
Upon such lies to destroy non-Russian nations by a "shmectel"
Give ethnic Russia A-bombs technology ,usurped by Bechtel.

The pact get my old mother infected with pneumonia again,
She is in Hospital, I have no time for the re-battle, as I wrote
Many times on many forums - maybe later. Tell that no gain
For Her Magesty letting Russians doing it - Nobility is a road
Of our acheivements and your symbolic foundations - Mam!

by: genny from: Moscow
July 04, 2012 08:44
I'd add to the scholar's idea about returning interest to the history of the purges, that we, in the past two decades, became more aware of the global tendencies and politics. Me personally, would be very interested to know about comparison between hate legislation / hate crimes legal practice in the West and Stalin's "legal" (although I would prefer to say, administrative) practice. Wish all the best!
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 06, 2012 17:17
Genny sounds like the official policy of Moscow,
The same Varyaga's bloody raids, milking lying cow
Of eternal provocateur, Russia. Since Varagas invasion
In Russia and East Europe, perpetual genocide-repopulation.

Georgians, Peter the First and Stalin, helped improve Russia.
Both being poisoned after Russia gained enough powers
Betray and genocide-repopulate, with help of Prussia,
Forging Empires under Prussian kings and Zcars.

Every time they started slender - pinning it on both,
For few beards Peter made cought theafs to shave
And for few misspronounced quotes that Stalin said
About killed by Russians, having no power over them
- Only advise governments that Russians controlled:

- "Where is Buharin?"
- "He was arrested as enemy of the people."
- "When will be the trial?"
- "He signed confession, no trial needed - we executed him."
- "It's fast. No people - no problems with courts?
How he behaved during execution?"
- "Like a bloody Jew - crolling on his knees, begging not to kill
him."

They looked at Stalin's changing face, greening like they would do the same to Stalin (According to Nicolos the Third, British Crone Prince and Hitler, Stalin would be "Caucasian nose with intelligent eyes, Jewsized by Jews").
He got a message and greened at them like a lion...
Russians still using it to blaim Stalin:
"He made Great Terror and said 'no people no problems' and
he greened at us like lion!"

You making another step into continuation of perpetual lies.
Sado-Masahist Russia genocidized non-Russians before
Russian Revolution.
Dictator Lenin did the same after the Revolution.
Stalin offered democracy and independence to non-Russian nations.
When USSR gained power, Russia usurped it, poisoned and smeared Stalin, dissolved Parliament of Nations and invaded again CIS countries and Eastern Europe, excalating it to level of traditional Russian genocides and pogroms.
Now, cashing on it, annexing and expanding again you pinning it on Stalin, you trying to fortify internationally that way of Russia, Prussia and "evil plant Plantagenot" to resurect colonial empires
and repopulate the World.

So, invading Varanga genocide since 9 A.D. was Stalin?
So, Lenin's dictatorship's genocides was Stalin?
So, purges by Russian pogromers in 1930-th was Stalin,
hardly more than objecting advisor to Russian government?
So, Russian crimes since Spring of 1947, when Stalin was put under hose arrest, was Stalin?
So pact of 1954 of Russians British and Bechtel and following according to it crimes of Russia, was also Stalin?

Now, are you building foundation for future crimes against Humanity, God and his Laws be committed by Russia, to repopulate the World by Rushka, Prushka and British Blyashka
be also blaimed on Stalin - but justified by Stalin in the same time?


In Response

by: genny from: Moscow
July 07, 2012 10:49
@Kostia-Konstantin Russian narodny poet from LA
This comparison will result only in determining who was the first to introduce "managed democracy" - Stalin o Roosevelt, nothing else. Pure science. Hi,
In Response

by: genny from: Moscow
July 07, 2012 16:41
sorry for occupying precious space:
The American definition: The hate groups were and are the groups of the ignorant. Their ignorance pushes them so far as to violently attack and kill blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Asians, and homosexuals. End of the quote.
So, the court needs to establish your respective ignorance, and the case is done. In Russia, Stalin will be forgotten solely for the sake of being enlightened by the new Great Truth. An ordinary consumer of this justice has the right to be aware of these mecanics.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 07, 2012 20:25
I do not know how you got "Kostia", but I am not a Russian.
I have no nationality since day of birth - it is what government of Russia and Moscow told me in Spring of 1947 and sentenced me (at age 4) and my mother to death:
"We Russian Varanga and Prussian Germans were Zcars and rulers of Russia! You are not Russian and we can do to you anything we want. You denying us to be plagiarized by us -
we sentence you and your mother to death."

I also have no other nation, not because they didn't offer us hospitality and escape from jurisdiction of Russia -
they did and I am gratefull for it,
but because no nation in the USSR, or in the World, would dare defend my right to have priorities for my ideas and intellectual ptroperty.

Russians and their partners steal all!
Even the small things, like last few days they advertize "Solatube" - solar lite in houses they stole from my head for many years and for many applications.
Russians comming after me by whole graduation classes of schools and universities to suck my brain, patent and impliment my things and make partners in crimes with the World, specially with USA, UK and Germano-Austria - they all danceling on bundershaft like "Supermen" and "Wunderkinds" - coarsed macaques...
My only real father is God and my only mother is Brotherhood of Seven Srtars of our neighborhood...

I am also not a poet, thought I might try poetry, if I would have life on this planet, sertainly not "Russian" or "Narodnyiy" poet...
I just shorten my comments by generalizations, that are simpler being rhymed, specially because Russian telepaths arroung my apartment building and neighborhood provoking my head - to squize out of it an angree rude rhyme, like for instance:
"Pey Rus' gulyay razgul'naya, sramnaya, bogohul'naya..."
I wouldn't call it poetry...

Now, "managed democracy" is as rediculous wording as "conservators".

"Conservators" sertainly do not like conservate anything good, like nature or dignified life - they conservate and expand their "right" to cannibalize.
The same is critisism by the ruling classes and races against "managed democracy".

Anything in the World is "managed" by the evil ones, like most of USA resourses are sucked by realty, plagiarise-monopolize-overprice and medical related corporations, trillions of dollars every year, and lion share past on to ruling classes of the race wars of British, German and Russian extraction and their outlets, including Massons and even "Cousins Emperors".
But they blaim just normal people for trying "manage" their defence from being robbed and they blaim democrats, installing them to mock them, just to replace agencies-like and Massons-like carnall cannibalizm by pseudo-vegitarian cannibalizm, passing it first through "neo-tech"-like networks.

Also it is all set-up this way to mock - there is always enough democrats in political life to laugh at...

In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 08, 2012 10:54
PS:
Long hand of Moscow...
Death sentence was carried out several hours ago to my mother.

I was guarding her for two weeks from KGB-CIA assassins that harrassed me to kill her in Presvetarian hospital in Los Angeles, but yeastarday their telepaths made me come too late to hospital
- KGB-CIA and maybe military as well murdered my mother working "on Bundershaft".
(When they tried to murder her about 12 years ago, the "Non Lethal Weapon" operator said to City officials that it was NATO operation and that NATO wants to plagiarize-inslave me, it is why they have to kill my mother - she bearely survived John's hospital nazi doctors, with memory loss, while family of a theaf, German Ivan from Russia, that stole my "Logical Arrays" and moved to USA with the whole graduation year from Kishinev Computer University (to patent and to impliment it), was leading on the killers and mocking me and my mother:
- "He is like a crying little Jew playing violine".)

I blaim myself for being late - it will be my eternal pain since now.

I demand Justice but World and USA denying me that - for how many times I saved both...
Their estimate is different - if I am so good guy, why not squize from me more by blackmailing me and murdering my mother...
Vengance belongs to God.

Take God soul of my mother to better place, she suffered enough!
Pay God in full to evil individuals, entities and nations that plagiarizing your blessings and murdering us and our mothers!

I demand Justice!
But vengance is all Yous, God!
In Response

by: genny from: Moscow
July 08, 2012 20:59
Long hand of Moscow...
The Russian lexicon calls it: "To trim the threat." Did you hear this word 'trim' with this meaning, in your country (I suppose you did)?
I like the things being done and the life lived, with the conscious mind. Overthrowing and forgetting Stalin will bring nothing new, no change.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
July 10, 2012 03:02
"To trim" I heard in different contest - by enemies of mine.
Not "threat" - nations and nationals as branches or as vines,
So that all fleeced, eaten and reduced - while Russia breed
Varaga-Prussaka in annexed land and houses they ceesed.

I wasn't threat to better half of Russians, but to lying Russia
That spread evil, dressed-up as terrorists and cooks kasha
For Russian army to invade as an excuse - blaiming NATO
As genocidized nations asking help from UN and EU "brata"
And leured by Russia USA help used as threatening "lazha".

Just before the "Bloody Sunday" Western reporters offered
To Georgian intellectuals and students visas, to go to USA.
They didn't, because Georgian Noble Soul and Pure heart
Does not change loyalty to traditional allies in CIS per say.
They didn't offer USA another Kartvelishvili, or Einshtein.

What good did it to them? Russia used then nerve gas:
- "If you are so consious people, we'll make you slaves
Of Varaga-Prussia masters!" - invading Russian brass
They unleashed genocide in Abkhazia, a breeding vawe.

Many of my relatives were brutally murdered in Abkhazia.
Now my mother brutally killed, Russians strangulated too
With threats and assassinations and kindapping "bratiya"
Using USA "happy rekrut-murder" infiltrated by lying dood:

The new forge of "International" and "oppressed peoples"
Spread of supplimental to expanding, breeding Russians,
All over the World, murdering us - to breed in our houses.
You call it "trim the threat"? - As Lenin interpreted causes.

His "export of revolution", kill us and breed Russia instead
From Poland and Findland through Georgia and Caucsus,
And from Ukraine and Moldova through Asia and Far East.
Stalin offered democracy and Common Wealth of nations,
It's why Russia wants kill me and killed my mother, beasts!

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