May 7, 2006

ATTAC Report This Week

The Return of Lenin’s Ghost

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A steady flow of news reports out of Russia are describing signs of eroding democracy and renewed repression. Many observers are now asking, “Is Communism returning to Russia?”

Hello. I’m your host, Boruch Ellison, and this is “ATTAC Report This Week” for May 7th, 2006.

If you travel as a tourist to Moscow today, you’ll probably have a chance to visit the center of Russian government. But if you’ve believed all the old reports about the alleged “death” of Communism, you may be in for some surprises.

One of the first oddities you’ll encounter is that the plaza is still known as “Red Square,” its Communist-era name from over fifteen years ago. As you enter the square and approach the Kremlin, the cluster of buildings housing the government, you’ll see a fancy mausoleum made of dark, red stone standing in front. Inside that structure rests the still-unburied body of Vladimir Lenin, first Communist dictator of the Soviet Union, encased in a glass coffin, and you can take a tour of the mausoleum to see the morbid display.

That’s one of the last sights you’d expect to find in a post-Communist Russia. Lenin remains today one of the most hated rulers in human history, especially by the Russians themselves. In the early twentieth century, he was the violent revolutionary who overthrew the government of free Russia and began the long, bloody Communist occupation. Lenin personally instituted the dreaded secret police, complete with their vast network of secret informants, their torture chambers, and their prisons from which few people came out alive. Lenin likewise began construction of hundreds of concentration camps across the land, including centers for medical experimentation on live human beings, and he initiated the genocidal mass murder that annihilated over 100 million innocent men, women, and children by the late 1980s. He also launched the socialist demolition of the Russian economy that created nonstop poverty and famine ever since.

Yet the father of the Red Terror inexplicably remains honored by today’s Russian leaders despite universal opposition. Even more amazingly, you can easily see statues of Lenin prominently standing today in the main squares of numerous cities and towns all across Russia, and even in Belarus and other nations previously part of the Soviet Union.

In addition to the uncountable museums and displays throughout Russia and other Soviet republics extolling former dictator Joseph Stalin or the notorious secret police agencies of the Soviet Union, you’ll find, without too much difficulty, such remnants of Soviet oppression as goose-stepping soldiers in Soviet-style uniforms; an abundance of state-owned and collective factories and farms, functioning every bit as disastrously as before; and nearly 100 cities entirely closed to outsiders, as if the police state still exists.

With more effort, you can learn about populations that remain exiled in the frozen north, unable to move away. You may also discover that the old Soviet rules trapping residents within the country’s sealed borders are still in place. The Russian government recently admitted it’s still using a hidden network of secret-police informants, and even that they’re still operating an untold number of concentration camps.

Up until his passing in the late 1990s, Soviet concentration camp survivor Avraham Shifrin, who ran the world’s leading research institute on the gulag, said he had direct testimony from thousands of eyewitnesses that not only were thousands of Soviet concentration camps still operating, largely in secret, but that millions of innocent Russians remained trapped and dying in those nightmarish facilities.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin is one of thousands of officers of the KGB secret police now running Russia’s central government as well as its provinces and cities. Indeed, almost every Soviet republic is now ruled by Communists or their hand-picked successors.

All this means there’s really no evidence the mass murder ever stopped, either.

Which also implies Communism and its world revolution never really disappeared.

That’s worth considering when we see Putin upgrading the Russian military’s armaments, or when President Bush proposes closer cooperation with Moscow.

Thank you for listening. From all of us at ATTAC Report, good-bye.

(“ATTAC Report This Week” is available at