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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June, 2007

NON-CONFORMISM. EVOLUTION OF THE 'DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT' AS A POLITICALLY HARMFUL PROCESS SINCE THE MID-1950S. FOLDER 9. THE CHEKIST ANTHOLOGY.

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    In this transcript, Mitrokhin points out that according to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) bourgeois ideology affected cohesion of the Soviet society in three major ways: 1) by creating opposition and manipulating people’s personal weaknesses in order to pull apart the Soviet organism; 2) by inflaming disputes between younger and older generations, members of intelligentsia and working class; 3) by building up everyday propagandist pressure.
    "Non-conformism. Evolution of the 'democratic movement' as a politically harmful process since the mid-1950s. Folder 9. The Chekist Anthology.," June, 2007, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Contributed to CWIHP by Vasili Mitrokhin. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113665
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[Translation unavailable. Please see original. Detailed summary below.]

In this transcript, Mitrokhin points out that according to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) bourgeois ideology affected cohesion of the Soviet society in three major ways: 1) by creating opposition and manipulating people's personal weaknesses in order to pull apart the Soviet organism; 2) by inflaming disputes between younger and older generations, members of intelligentsia and working class; 3) by building up everyday propagandist pressure.

The democratic movement originated in 1950s. It largely consisted of artists and literary figures of the time who advocated the conception of a democratic society. Mitrokhin indicates that the Soviet government also regarded all revisionists, nationalists, Zionists, members of church and religious sects to be a part of the Democratic movement. The Russian offices of the Amnesty International and Helsinki Accords Watch were also branded as members of the opposition.

Among the well-known and active followers of the Democratic movement were author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the 1958 Nobel Laureate in Literature Boris Pasternak, and the founders of the Chronicle of Current Events, the anti-Soviet bulletin launched in 1968, Pyotr Yakir and Viktor Krasin. By 1970s, Yakir and Krasin had overseen the publication of about 27 issues of the bulletin.

Soon, the emergence of a series of samizdat journals and dissident groups led to the initiation of a firm "parallel political life." However, following the arrest of Yakir in 1972, the Democratic movement began to decline. A number of involved individuals were subjected to a compulsory medical treatment. The official policy of the KGB was to deny any claims, whatsoever, of the existence of the Democratic movement.

The dissident movement in the Soviet Union, Mitrokhin maintains, was a combination of legal and illegal forms of protest against socialism. Nevertheless, the KGB asserted that dissidents were not a product of the socialist system of government, but rather a "foster child" of the Western ideology and the secret services of the United States and Western Europe.

The Democratic movement included members both from inside and outside the Soviet Union. Mitrokhin suggests that according to the KGB's point of view, the ultimate goal of the insiders was to overthrow the Soviet regime. The outside dissidents sought to spread out the dissident ideology to other socialist countries, thereby garnering international support. To the KGB, the outside component was particularly dangerous part of the Democratic movement.

In 1980, the KGB attempted to discredit dissident activity by publishing The White Book. For a brief period, the publication introduced a new term "uluchshysty," meaning "improvers." The so-called improvers posed as a counterweight to the dissidents. In instances where dissidents sought to weaken the government, the improvers searched for means to strengthen it.

Among dissidents, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was at the forefront of the Democratic movement. He based his vision on the notion of nonviolent revolution and passive resistance. Solzhenitsyn called for the rejection of the Communist Party's (CPSU) controlling position.

Since 1980, dissidents concentrated primarily in Paris, New-York and London. Their main function was to disseminate written materials challenging the legal basis of the Soviet rule. The dissidents protested against the dictatorship of the CPSU, which, they believed, was firmly secured in the 1977 Constitution. As a result of such built-in constitutional bent toward the supremacy of the Communist Party, citizens of the USSR whose views ran contrary to that of the Party automatically acted in violation of the law.



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