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The Militant, 3 August 1946

Larissa Reed

New Purges in the Soviet Union
Reflect Discontent with Kremlin

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 31, 3 August 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The smoldering discontent of the Soviet masses against their abysmal living standards and working conditions, Is reflected in the scope and intensity of the new “peacetime” purges in the USSR. After heroic efforts through five years of war and war preparations, all that Stalin’s ruling clique can offer the weary peoples are promises and scapegoats.

Prior to Moscow’s public admission of the purges, issues of the Soviet press for May and June were filled with, false optimism. The May 30 Pravda promised for the thousandth time: “The time is not far distant when rationing will be abolished in our country.” Among the reports seeping through it is learned that workers in some places have not been paid wages for as long as a year. Meat shortage is growing more acute.

Pravda of June 15 cites several cases of “embezzlement of cattle” and of live-stock dying out for lack of fodder on the ranges of Buryat—Mongolia. “Where is the guarantee that similar conditions do not prevail in other regions?” Pravda queries.

As the scarcities and hardships continue, the number of scapegoats mounts. The purges have invaded every sphere of Soviet life, from shake-ups in the military and industrial departments, to condemnation of Soviet culture and the rude manners of the people.

New Puppets

A wide-scale purge is in progress among army hierarchy. Soviet war hero Zhukov was demoted from command of all Red Army ground forces to a provincial army post at Odessa. It is not known at present what has become of Marshal A. A. Novikov, who headed the Russian Air Force during the war and who has now been "removed.” With the elimination of the most prominent war figures, new Stalinist puppets are being raised up.

Furthermore, a campaign of "political education” has been launched in the army, according to a July 18 Moscow dispatch, to eliminate “backsliding” and ideological weaknesses. The Army newspaper is sharply criticized for its “weak and timid” policy in glorifying the Stalinist regime.

Major General V. Lebedev, writing in the Red Fleet, the Soviet Navy’s official newspaper, warns that the links between party organization and nonparty personnel must be “strengthened,” and that this will be a “big task.” He criticizes party propaganda in the Army and Navy.

Wide Purges

Simultaneously, the purges against Soviet "embezzlers,” “falsifiers of industrial production,” against graft and corruption in government bureaus is stepped up in the name of "iron discipline.” Official disclosures from the Ministry of State Control indicate that these purges include coal, metallurgy, automobiles, airplane construction, electrical equipment, food, agricultural machinery, railways and housing. They, involve directors and top officials of important trusts and at several Ministries. Recently more than 20 factory, mill and mine executives were “punished” for misusing funds.

The Kremlin is already demanding harsher punishments. According to a July 25 Moscow dispatch, the Soviet Supreme Court had quashed a prison sentence imposed upon three defendants in the Moscow Circuit Railroad by the Military Tribunal. That the purge will probably close around the Military Tribunal itself was implicit in the veiled threat that “some courts underestimate the social danger of bribery and corruption.”

The purge is sweeping through the editorial staffs of Soviet local newspapers. According to Neal Stanford, writing from Washington on July 18, the Kremlin recently directed a “critique” to 5,600 local editors, mentioning a number of them by name. They were warned to correct the “weaknesses” of Soviet newspapers, that is, taken to task for not swinging behind the purge and not sufficiently praising Stalin, his regime, his new Five-Year Plan—and his newest wave of terror.

Extend to Arts

The purges extend into Soviet opera, music, the theater, painting, films, architecture, in brief, all of Soviet culture. Culture and Life, official Stalinist Agitation-Propaganda organ, lashes out against “incompetent” playwrights, composers, all categories of movie workers, including scenario writers, stars, cameramen, writers of literature and literary critics.

This blanket indictment coincides with the suppression of Sergei Eisenstein’s film, Ivan the Terrible, whose barbaric methods and blood purges so closely resemble Stalin’s.

The Ministry of Cinema and Committees of Art and Architecture have been officially instructed to take charge of the purge, especially in connection with the periodical Soviet Art.

The dispatches percolating through the Moscow censors abroad do not deny the vast scope of this newest purge. They do stress, however, that the current shake-up is not so widespread as the 1937 blood-bath when Lenin’s co-workers were murdered, and millions purged and imprisoned. This is perhaps true. But the significant thing is that even the monstrous purges of the Moscow frame-up period did not begin on the scale of this latest purge, the end of which is not yet in sight. Its fury is in fact mounting. For despite Stalin’s boasts that the Kremlin regime had been strengthened by the war, in reality it is today more unstable and shaky than ever before.

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