From the Archives

Soviet Communism — Alive and Deadly

(The Inside Story: World Report v2:1, September 1995)

Has Soviet Communism actually died? The answer seems obvious to most Americans, who receive their information through the major news media. The television screen has conveyed dramatic and colorful images of protests in the streets of Moscow, tanks outside the Soviet Parliament, and the substitution of the traditional Russian flag for the Soviet hammer-and-sickle red flag.

Those who pay closer attention to Soviet events, or who travel to Moscow or certain other major Russian cities, find evidence of democratic elections with vigorous opposition movements, a relaxation of moral standards on Russian television, and busy capitalists in the streets of Moscow. Even the borders have been declared open, allowing citizens to leave, and a couple of old concentration camps have been shut down. The KGB is releasing some of its files. Former political prisoners now speak out openly. And Boris Yeltsin declares he is no longer a Communist. Could events be any more dramatic?

Americans, however, tend to forget how much absolute control a Communist regime exercises over its captive nation. For decades, our television cameras and gullible travelers were led on carefully prepared tours of the Soviet Union, bringing back stories of “happy” Soviet citizens working enthusiastically on building socialism. A few Americans truly believed such colorful nonsense, while most others gradually came to accept the idea that the Soviet dictatorship was mellowing.

The “collapse” of Soviet Communism, orchestrated as an alleged “coup” against dictator Gorbachev in 1991, gave our television cameras and tourists the most spectacular show yet. The changes seemed more genuine than ever before, and thus more convincing. But is it possible that we are merely witnessing a larger-scale deception than before, a quiet prelude to a new hot war? Startling new evidence says we are.

The police state and genocide

The greatly hyped-up news coverage of the “changes” in the Soviet Union has exaggerated their importance. Whether in Spain during the 1930s, Hungary during the 1950s, or Indonesia during the 1960s, Communist regimes have never been overthrown without significant violence and bloodshed. Cosmetic reforms cannot bring down such a dictatorship, especially a long-established one.

The Soviet regime has had 77 years to destroy all opposition and crush the morale of the population. In the most thorough study of its kind, political scientist R.J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii estimated that the Kremlin mass-murdered some 62 million Soviet citizens between 1917 and 1987; the number could be as high as 127 million.1 This genocide has been carried out in thousands of Soviet concentration camps, as well as through mass trials and shootings and even by enforced famine in whole regions of the Soviet Union.

The purpose has been to create mass terror. To frighten the entire population, the killing had to be random and widespread. As dictator Vladimir Lenin commanded, “The courts must not ban terror… but must formulate the motives underlying it, legalize it as a principle, plainly, without any make-believe or embellishment. It must be formulated in the broadest possible manner…”.2

Acting on his orders, the government set quotas for the number of civilians to be rounded up and imprisoned — or executed — in each area of the Soviet Union. Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, for example, described “the assignment of quotas, the norms set, the planned allocations. Every city, every district, every military unit was assigned a specific quota of arrests to be carried out by a stipulated time. From then on everything else depended on the ingenuity of the Security operations personnel.”3 Soviet defector Vladimir Petrov, who had worked in the secret police until 1954, also described the process:

I handled hundreds of signals to all parts of the Soviet Union which were couched in the following form:

“To N.K.V.D., Frunze. You are charged with the task of exterminating 10,000 enemies of the people. Report results by signal. — Yezhov.”

And in due course the reply would come back:

“In reply to yours of such-and-such date, the following enemies of the Soviet people have been shot.”4

Millions of citizens have been sent each year to the concentration camps to die more slowly — while performing economically useful slave labor. Genuine criminals were treated better and put in charge of the other inmates:

The world of the camps was grotesque as well as lethal. The ancient criminal element, accounting for about 5% of the prisoners, terrorised the “politicals,” with the connivance of the authorities. They looted their possessions and clothes, beat them, murdered them: even worse, they took the lion’s share of the rations already calculated to give the barest minimum on which a prisoner might survive for a while.5

One major wing of the state terror was carried out as a war against the Jewish population of the Soviet Union. Beginning under Lenin, the Communist Party banned Jewish schools and charities, raided Jewish celebrations during Yom Kippur and other holy days, and tortured, killed, or exiled to concentration camps untold numbers of religious Jews.6 During World War II, nearly half a million Jewish refugees from Poland were seized during the Soviet invasion of Lithuania; these were immediately deported to Soviet concentration camps, religious leaders being sent first.7 Menachem Begin, the future prime minister of Israel, was one of these, but later escaped the Soviet Union.8 In 1945 the Soviets even seized most of the Jewish inmates of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps, transferring these hapless prisoners to Soviet camps to help finish the Nazi Holocaust.9

Common myth today holds that this genocidal terror ended with the death of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. But professor Rummel estimates that some 7 million citizens were murdered by the Soviet government between Stalin’s death and 1987, and possibly as many as 12 million. The terror pattern is as arbitrary as before: people are arrested for “economic crimes,” meaning participation in the underground economy, an activity carried out by virtually all Soviet citizens. In the mid-1960s, for example, even “the illegal manufacture of such fripperies as hair ribbons and lipstick brought certain offenders before the firing squad…”. Based on an analysis of names, Jews are apparently 20 times as likely as other Russians to be targeted for arrest.10

Concentration camp survivor Avraham Shifrin was able to leave the Soviet Union in 1970 and move to Israel, where he established the Research Center for Prisons, Psychprisons and Forced Labor Concentration Camps of the USSR. He published his comprehensive research on Soviet camps in 1980, indicating more than 2,000 concentration camps were active — including 119 camps for women and children and at least 41 death camps.11 By 1990, Shifrin reported that some 2,500 camps were now holding an expanded population of 7 million inmates under Mikhail Gorbachev’s regime.12

But more chillingly, Shifrin has recently discovered that the “former” Soviet Union under Boris Yeltsin is rapidly building many new camps throughout the country, in addition to the thousands of ongoing camps. These still-empty camps could serve to hold vast numbers of Western Europeans once the Red Army moves into Germany, Italy, France, and England.

Since the “collapse” of Soviet Communism in 1991, Moscow has opened to the public a tiny handful of old camps, mostly in Siberia. But the other 2,500 camps remain in full operation, exterminating large numbers of citizens under a continuing regime of terror. The Soviet propaganda works only because most Americans never understood the severity of Communist oppression in the first place.

The Communist Party machine

In the “collapse” of the Soviet Union, Communist Party members did not even lose their collective hold on power. A few Party members were shuffled around between powerful government positions, while most declared themselves “former” Communists. Boris Yeltsin has himself been a Communist since 1961, although he now claims to be a “former” Party member; his administration is thoroughly staffed with such longtime Communists as Yuri Petrov, Oleg Lobov, and Viktor Ilyushin.13 His leading opponent, the tough-talking Vladimir Zhirinovsky, openly boasts of his own KGB backing.14

As of mid-1993, 11 of the 15 Soviet republics were openly under the control of “former” Communists, including Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, and Leonid Kravchuk of the Ukraine.15 Shevardnadze, in fact, previously worked for the KGB as the head of several detention centers. Eyewitnesses report Shevardnadze’s legendary cruelty at his Tbilisi prison:

In room 45 Agdomelashvili (an agent) beat Mikhelashvili (a Jew) on assignment from Panfilov (chief of operations); in room 44, agents… beat and cut with a razor the object Datusani; in room 37 agent Usipyan on assignment from Panfilov and Svimonishvili beat the object Valeri Kukhianidze, whose internal organs got so beat up he spit blood, after which he died in the Central Prison Hospital and was “written off”… in a word, beating went on in all the rooms, and the groaning and howling of the objects was heard all over the building… It was a slaughterhouse.16

Those Soviet republics not under obvious Communist control have been ruled by figureheads on behalf of the Communists. For example, former Georgian “President” Zviad Gamsakhurdia — though often portrayed in the Western news media as a democratically elected anti-Communist — actually worked closely with the KGB and was allowed to run Georgia through a completely Communist-controlled bureaucracy, as he openly admitted. He also protected the socialist infrastructure by blocking free-enterprise reforms.17

Not only do Communists and their “former” comrades thoroughly permeate the political leadership and bureaucracy of the entire Soviet Union, but they have kept its socialist power completely intact. Virtually the entire economy remains in government hands; only tiny zones in Moscow and certain other major cities allow a few private businesses, such as street vendors. New Soviet laws guarantee the restrictions on private property and business activity, and Communist apparatchiks still hold the reins of economic power. “Permission to take part in large-scale enterprise is only granted through these aqpparatchiks, and only if it is in their interests,” writes one former Soviet citizen of the current situation. “All the property of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union — its billions in funds and billions in real estate, all of its sanatoriums, publishing houses, and fleets of cars, and the cooperative enterprises created under its aegis, everything — has been handed over for allocation by the very same new Russian administration that is led by the old secretaries of oblast Party committees.” The handful of entrepreneurs are further squeezed with heavy taxation.18

Why doesn’t the newly “free” press of Russia report this? Because there is no free press. In Moscow, for example, all printing presses, all delivery trucks, and all newsstands are owned by the government, which also controls prices on all publications.19

Not that it matters, since no “opposition” movement would care to tell the truth anyway. KGB General Oleg Kalugin has openly boasted that KGB personnel include “even figures in our democratic movement. There are many people in the movement — in fact, famous people — who have been cooperating with the KGB for twenty to twenty-five years.”20

Already by 1984, top KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn warned that the Communists had created artificial, controlled opposition for many years: “There can be no reasonable doubt that the dissident movement as a whole is a KGB-controlled false opposition movement… and that many of its leading members are active and willing collaborators with the Central Committee and the KGB.”21 Naturally, such phony dissident movements are playing along with the Soviet deception.

The real picture outside Moscow

The moment one leaves the major Russian cities, the continuing rule of Communism becomes immediately obvious. World Report has received testimony, from Americans and others working inside the “former” Soviet Union, that now confirms this. The identities of most of these people will remain undisclosed for their protection, although any traveler to the Soviet Union will be able to verify these facts.

Absolute socialism still rules the entire Soviet Union, including Russia and the other Soviet states. No citizen believes life has improved; indeed, government controls are creating worse poverty than ever before. There is no middle class, and an annual inflation rate of over 1,000 percent is coupled with persistent shortages of most goods. Those products that are available are often useless. Salaries are typically as low as three dollars per month, and overwhelming red tape blocks any task from getting accomplished.

The citizen remains a slave. By the fifth grade, the government chooses each person’s life career, from which there is no escape. People are forcibly crowded into massive apartment buildings containing some 20,000 residents each. Few cars are seen on the streets of any city because only Party members and taxi drivers can own them, and daily gasoline shortages limit all transportation. Health and life expectancy are low; suicide is common.

“Democracy” is ignored as a cruel joke. Voters may only choose between Communist-approved candidates (many of them “former” Communists), and thus elections occur quickly and quietly, generating little public interest.

Nor has the police state diminished. In all Soviet republics, citizens are constantly terrified by the ever-present KGB. Since 1990, both Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin have expanded the KGB,22 and the agency’s budget has even doubled in some Soviet republics, such as Kazakhstan. Each foreigner visiting the Soviet Union is assigned a KGB officer, usually without the visitor’s knowledge, and the movement of foreigners is controlled by forcing them to use taxis or public transportation. Citizens and foreigners alike may not travel between cities without permission and the proper papers — including internal passports and visas. These papers are rigorously checked upon entry into, and exit from, any city, and are even checked constantly during the first week a foreigner is in a new city. Computerized systems are beginning to replace the old methods, and citizens are being required to carry magnetized ID cards.

Prisons and concentration camps are more ubiquitous than naive foreigners realize. Prisons often look like ordinary factories on the outside, though slave labor fuels the work on the inside. Unscheduled searches of people and cars at every street corner, conducted by police or militia units, are common. And people guilty of “economic crimes” tend to disappear or are subject to summary execution; bank tellers who come up short on transactions, for example, are speedily shot — unless the customer was shortchanged.

Yeltsin’s declaration of open borders is a hollow one for Soviet citizens, who still cannot leave their country. Even travel outside the Soviet Union is heavily restricted, regardless of the Soviet republic. An invitation must be initiated by someone in a foreign country, who accepts full financial responsibility for the trip, and the Soviet citizen’s boss must approve. The citizen must then visit the appropriate consulate to be interrogated by the Soviet authorities (in addition to the foreign representatives), who run a complete background check on the person. The person must usually agree to leave family members behind, to prevent defection. Several weeks may pass before the KGB returns a verdict on the travel request; in the Ukraine, this decision is not rendered for two years, and the hapless citizen must physically check in with the Soviet authorities every day during the final six months of the waiting period — at which time the request may still be denied.

To prevent Soviet air force pilots from defecting, pilots are not allowed to know their flight patterns or destinations until after they are airborne. Further insurance is provided by laser-guided surface-to-air missile batteries, which track every plane during flight and are fired if the pilot deviates from his designated route.

Russian control over the Soviet republics remains painfully obvious. Russian troops are stationed in several of the republics, and the Russian military runs all missile sites and all military facilities. Even military training remains in Russian hands, as all soldiers from the republics are sent to Russia for boot camp. Phone calls between cities are routed through Moscow, and phone tapping by the KGB is routine — poorly hidden by sudden changes in phone transmission quality. “We have grown used to the fact of constantly being bugged, of always being watched,” says Russian author Lev Timofeyev, who also points out that eavesdropping devices remain installed in Soviet apartments.23 Of course, only a tiny fraction of citizens can have phones at all. Foreign companies and investors, moreover, have discovered that even though the various Soviet cities and republics seem to initiate projects, all contracts are actually negotiated in Moscow under Russian authority. And key political positions in the republics are filled by Russian Communists, not locals.

To fool outsiders, the KGB has learned to disguise many of its activities through the “Russian mafia.” Former KGB officer Golitsyn has revealed that the KGB’s Economic Department and the Interior Ministry’s OBKhS have penetrated — and even partly created — the black market underworld during the past 70 years.24 Taxation, for example, can now be portrayed as common crime. Timofeyev reports that “according to some reports, anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of produce is regularly stolen from district warehouses. Farmer’s markets are under the control of criminal elements, who extract a commission from each seller and force sellers to keep their prices above a certain level.”25

Even arms shipments to other Communist regimes are now disguised as business ventures under “mafia” control, giving Yeltsin his excuse for not being able to stop such activities. In 1990, for example, the Soviet business ANT was discovered to have been set up by dozens of KGB officers and Communist Party members, and was shipping tanks out of the country under the guise of selling tractors.26

In short, the Soviet Communist state remains intact, and is quietly accelerating its war against the West. As a part of these activities, the Soviet military is rapidly expanding and preparing for a hot war — a topic to be covered in future issues of World Report.

The real collapse of the Soviet Union will be marked by violent overthrow, by the execution of millions of Communist Party members and KGB personnel, by the shutting down of thousands of concentration camps and the opening of the borders, by the rapid conversion of the whole economy to free enterprise, and by the universal ownership of guns amongst the population. But if Americans do not wake up soon enough to the Soviet danger, we may first witness our own national surrender to the growing Communist empire.

How can we destabilize the Soviet Union while there is still time? Future issues of World Report will document how the Soviet military-industrial complex has been entirely built with Western aid and technology, and how the interruption of this flow will bring the Kremlin to its knees — for real.


1. Rummel, RJ, Lethal Politics, New Brunswich, New Jersey, 1990.

2. Lenin, VI, Collected Works, as quoted in Methvin, EH, The Rise of Radicalism, Arlington House, New Rochelle, NY, 1973, p. 321.

3. Solzhenitsyn, AI, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956, Harper & Row, NY, 1973, pp. 69-70.

4. Petrov, V. & Petrov, E., Empire of Fear, Praeger, NY, 1956, pp. 73-74.

5. Conquest, R., Introduction, in Rossi, Jacques, The Gulag Handbook, Paragon House, NY, 1989.

6. Gottlieb, Rabbi NZ, In the Shadow of the Kremlin, Mesorah Publications, NY, 1985, pp. 11-18, passim.

7. Kranzler, David, Thy Brother’s Blood, Mesorah Publications, NY, 1987, p. 131.

8. Begin, M., White Nights, Harper & Row, NY, 1977.

9. Rummel, Op cit., p. 163.

10. Ibid., chapter 9, esp. p. 219.

11. Shifrin, A., First Guidebook to Prisons and Concentration Camps of the Soviet Union, Bantam Books, NY, 1982, esp. pp. 10, 19-21, 31-35.

12. Shifrin, A., “A Performance: Glasnost and Perestroika,” an open letter, Jan. 1990.

13. McAlvany, DS, McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, Jan. 1994, p. 12; Timofeyev, L., Russia’s Secret Rulers, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1992, p. 85.

14. Orth, M., “Nightmare on Red Square,” Vanity Fair, Sept. 1994, pp. 83-84.

15. Timofeyev, Op cit., p. 13.

16. Testimony of Yuri Tsirekidze in Story, C., Soviet Analyst, vol. 21, no. 6, June-Aug. 1992, p. 11.

17. Interview with Gamsakhurdia in Timofeyev, Op cit., pp. 46-51.

18. Timofeyev, Op cit., pp. 44, 86, 143, 144.

19. McAlvany, Op cit., p. 5.

20. Timofeyev, Op cit., p. 90.

21. Golitsyn, A., New Lies for Old, Dodd, Mead, & Co., NY, 1984, pp. 229-230.

22. McAlvany, DS, McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, Sep/Oct 1991, p. 21; Associated Press, “Yeltsin gives more mandate, more staff to retooled KGB,” SF Chronicle, 11-24-94, p. C8.

23. Timofeyev, Op cit., p. 4.

24. Golitsyn, A., Memorandum to the CIA, 9-27-93, excerpted in Story, C., Soviet Analyst, Oct 1994, 23:1, p. 3.

25. Timofeyev, Op cit., p. 117.

26. Ibid., pp. 121-126.