Decommunization in Russia

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Decommunization in Russia is the process of dealing with the communist legacies in terms of institutions and personnel that tends towards breaking with the Soviet past. Compared with the efforts of the other former constituents of the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Union, it has been restricted to half-measures, if conducted at all.[1]

Notable anti-communist measures in the Russian Federation are the banning of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (and creating the Communist Party of the Russian Federation) as well as the names of some Russian cities reverting to what they were before the 1917 October Revolution (Leningrad to Saint Petersburg, Sverdlovsk to Yekaterinburg and Gorky to Nizhny Novgorod)[2] though others were maintained with Ulyanovsk and Togliatti being examples. Even though Leningrad and Sverdlovsk were renamed, regions that were named after them is still officially called Leningrad's and Sverdlovsk's regions.

However, Nostalgia for the Soviet Union is gradually on the rise in Russia.[3] Communist symbols continue to form an important part of the rhetoric used in state-controlled media as banning them is seen by the foreign ministry as "sacrilege" and "a perverse idea of good and evil".[2] The decommunization process in neighbouring Ukraine was also met with criticism by Russia,[2] and Soviet war crimes continue to be regularly dismissed as "Western myth".[4]

August Coup[edit]

In the aftermath of the abortive August Coup of 1991, on August 23, the people applauded the president of the Russian SFSR, Boris Yeltsin, for suspending the Communist Party of the Russian SFSR for the time of investigation, despite the objections of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who insisted that the party as a whole was not to blame for the events.[5] The Communist Party obkoms in the Russian SFSR were closed, but the building of the Central Committee of the CPSU was sealed.

On August 24, Gorbachev dissolved the Central Committee of the CPSU and resigned from the position of its Secretary General (but remained President of the Soviet Union). On August 25, Yeltsin issued another decree nationalizing the property of the party (including archives and bank accounts) in favor of the Council of Ministers of the Russian SFSR.[6]

Within a few weeks after the coup, the Soviet Union peacefully broke up. On November 6, 1991, Yeltsin banned the CPSU, which had exercised pervasive control over the Soviet society for years.[7] The breakup of the Soviet Union was acknowledged in the Belavezha Accords of December 8, ratified by the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR on 12 December. On 26 December 1991, the dissolution of the Soviet Union was declared. Its largest constituent republic, the Russian SFSR, was renamed the Russian Federation. It was formally established on 1 January 1992 and became the successor state to the Soviet Union.

Coup investigation[edit]

The Parliamentary Commission for Investigating Causes and Reasons of the coup attempt was established in 1991 under Lev Ponomaryov (including also Gleb Yakunin), but in 1992 it was dissolved at Ruslan Khasbulatov's insistence. Having gained access to secret KGB archives as a member of the committee, in March 1992, Gleb Yakunin published materials about co-operation of the Moscow Patriarchate with KGB. He claimed that Patriarch Alexius II, Mitropolit Filaret of Kiev, Pitrim of Volokolamsk, and others were recruited by the KGB.[8][9]

A large part of the archives of the Communist Party (preserved now in state archives such as Archive of the President of the Russian Federation, Russian State Archive of Contemporary History, Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History and State Archive of the Russian Federation), including almost all documents of its Central Committee, remains classified.[10][11][12] For a 1993 view on the problem, see Khubova, Dar'ia & Vitaly Chernetsky (1993).[13] For an example of preserved documents, see the Soviet Archive[14] compiled by Vladimir Bukovsky in 1992.

In 1992, a number of people's deputies sued Yeltsin, requesting examination of his decrees concerning the Communist Party for compliance with the contemporary Constitution. On November 30, 1992, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation partially reviewed the decrees and lifted the ban against the Communist Party of the Russian SFSR[15]

Re-establishment of the Communist party[edit]

“It's a shame the USSR collapsed” - Yegoryevsk resident.[3]

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation was reestablished in February 1993. A number of smaller communist parties claimed to be successors of the CPSU as well.

Unlike in many other countries of the former Soviet bloc, lustration of senior Communist Party and KGB officials in Russia was staunchly resisted and has never been implemented. Many of them have remained in power. In fact, most of the modern Russian politicians started their careers in the Soviet Union. A law project on lustration was first proposed to the parliament in December 1992 by Galina Starovoytova, but it has never been passed.

The persons arrested in connection with of the August Coup were released from prison in 1992, and the charges were lifted under amnesty by the State Duma on February 23, 1994. Vasily Starodubtsev was the Governor of Tula Oblast in 1997-2005, Anatoly Lukyanov was a deputy of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in the State Duma in 1993-2003, Valentin Varennikov has been a deputy in the State Duma since 1995 (Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Rodina), the latter two were heads of parliamentary committees.

There has been no deliberate attempt to deal with the Soviet past for Russia as a society.[16]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Karl W. Ryavec. Russian Bureaucracy: Power and Pathology, 2003, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 0-8476-9503-4, page 13
  2. ^ a b c Shevchenko, Vitaly (14 April 2015). "Goodbye, Lenin: Ukraine moves to ban communist symbols". BBC News. Retrieved 1 Jun 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Steve Rosenberg (19 Aug 2016), The Russians with fond memories of the USSR, BBC News, retrieved 20 Aug 2016 
  4. ^ Lucy Ash (1 May 2016), The rape of Berlin, BBC News, retrieved 1 Jun 2016 
  5. ^ Указ Президента РСФСР от 23 августа 1991 года N 79 "О приостановлении деятельности Коммунистической партии РСФСР"
  6. ^ Указ Президента РСФСР от 25 августа 1991 года N 90 "Об имуществе КПСС и Коммунистической партии РСФСР"
  7. ^ Указ Президента РСФСР от 6 ноября 1991 года N 169 "О деятельности КПСС и КП РСФСР".
  8. ^ Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, Gardners Books (2000), ISBN 0-14-028487-7
  9. ^ Yevgenia Albats and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick. The State Within a State: The KGB and Its Hold on Russia - Past, Present, and Future. 1994. ISBN 0-374-52738-5.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ The Case of the Russian Archives: An Interview with Iurii N. Afanas'ev. Slavic Review 52 (2), 338-352.
  14. ^ Zaks, Yulia. "V.Bukovsky, Soviet Archive". 
  15. ^ "Дело о проверке конституционности Указов Президента Российской Федерации от 23 августа 1991 года N 79". 
  16. ^ Nelson, Susan H. The Bureaucratic Politics of Democracy Promotion: The Russian Democratization Project. PhD Diss, University of Maryland, 2006.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]