Friday, April 3, 2009

Today's FSB Very much like the NKVD

The above article was posted to his web site on April 2 by Paul Goble and entitled, “Today’s FSB ‘Very Much Like’ Stalin’s Secret Police, Russian Activists Say”

I am trying to understand Russia’s continuing love for Stalin and for Russian authoritarianism. Kuznetsov’s image of “ants” was helpful. Ants are happy because everything is under control. Not under their control, to be sure, but under the control of their authoritarian Ant Queen. There are worker ants, soldier ants, and everyone is happy doing the job he has to do. Well, not quite everyone as I read in this article. Lyudmila Alekseyeva doesn’t seem very happy.

Alekseyeva is the “dean of human rights activists” in Russia. She says that “the Russian FSB resembles Stalin’s secret police in that it is “absolutely outside the law” and its officers “do what they want” without even the fear of legal persecution that the late Soviet dictator sometimes visited upon his officers. . . “

A “roundtable” was held on the subject of whether “The FSB in Contemporary Russia is Special Services or a Punitive Organ.” The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group acknowledged that . . .“there is now no Stalinist mass terror,” but . . . the ability of the FSB to ignore the law opens the way to new horrors ( ). . .”

Alekseyeva says the “situation under Vladimir Putin is far more frightening in some respects than it was under Leonid Brezhnev. ‘In Brezhnev’s times,’ . . she was called to the Lubyanka “more than 30 times, where she was subject to many kinds of intimidation but never physical violence. At that time, she said, “there was an order from above: one could scare people, but one must not apply physical force. But now this law does not operate, and thus the FSB has gained access to all available criminal methods,” as can be seen in the recent series of attacks on opponents of the regime.”

“. . . Mikhail Kasyanov, the leader of the Russian Popular Democratic Union, said that . . . the FSB today . . . has access not only to political power but also to financial flows, which is no less terrible,” and its officers “really think that they are the real saviors of Russia,” having on the basis of their action “rescued” the country after it had gone through the turmoil of the 1990s. The willingness and ability of the FSB and its representatives in the political establishment to ignore the law in pursuit and defense of power was not so obvious when times were good, Kasyanov said, but now that the country is in economic difficulties, this tendency “has become more than obvious” and the actions of the organs ever more violent. . . .”

“If violent actions not surprisingly attract the most attention, they are far from the only way in which Russia’s security services are restoring noxious aspects of the Stalinist past. this week, for example, reports on the return of the system under which ordinary citizens either volunteer or are compelled to serve as confidential informants of the regime. . . .”


Well, I must admit I am impressed. Kuznetsov’s analogy of the ant is being born out. Russia really needs an organization like the NKVD to keep everything running smoothly. The Russian ant colony tried to get by without it for awhile, but things were becoming much too disorganized, much too like a nation of Lady bugs, so back comes the NKVD with the name changed to the FSB – a kinder gentler NKVD to be sure what with all the cell phones that can take pictures and the internet that can post them, but still having the power to keep all those ants, some of whom seem to have a desire to be lady bugs, under control.

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