December 25, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8435

Novaya Gazeta Columnist Kirill Martinov: Acquiescence To Neo-Stalinism; Now It Is The End Of December, And Every Day We Have Political Trials In Russia

December 25, 2019
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 8435

Novaya Gazeta columnist Kirill Martinov wrote an article, titled “A readiness to live in Stalin’s era; Prologue to Russian Twenties,” analyzing Russia’s repressive apparatus and the scant importance that Russians attach to the problem of political prisoners.

“Now it is the end of December, and every day we have political trials in Russia. The most surprising thing is that, after these events, the whole country will heroically find the strength to go on holidays,” Martinov wrote. There have been protests against corruption, damage to the ecology and the falsification of election results. However, when Russian citizens agree to political repression they are effectively giving their consent to political repression.

The only exceptions to the general conformism are the young. They therefore are not cowed like their elders, and refuse to keep silent. While Martinov praises them “as the best of the generation of 20-year-olds" but he does not like their chances as they "are now abandoned by the seniors and face alone an indestructible union of the KGB, new ‘Komsomol’ members and corrupt officials.".

Below is Martinov’s article: [1]

Kirill Martinov (Source:

A Prologue To The Russian ‘Twenties’

“Until June stagnation festered, then they arrested [Russian investigative journalist Ivan] Golunov, and since August they just grabbed everyone. Now it is the end of December, and every day we have political trials in Russia. The most surprising thing is that, after these events, the whole country will heroically find the strength to go on holidays. And we will be able for about two weeks (while prosecutors and other arbiters of destiny drown their faces in salads) to stop writing reports on the trials of innocent people. And then the state with renewed strength will begin to grind people, and this will become a prologue to the Russian ‘twenties’.

“Someone might say that we pay so much attention to political prisoners in vain. Clearly, there are enough other problems: from garbage to poverty, from corruption to inequality. The scale of political persecution is still (by the standards of our 20th century) ridiculous – only few dozens. And court sentences [for political prisoners] are ‘vegetarian’, suggest the cynics. All this is true, but political terror has a toxic peculiarity. It turns people who simply want to live in their country (as if nothing is going on and not think about politics) into accomplices.

“The repressive apparatus and the almighty state both rest on the conformism of those who know how to turn their head away in time. This conformism is understandable and even excusable - no one has to be a hero. But still, it is the cynicism of the Russian courts, where white is publicly called black, and thus legalizing everything else. If a person in full view of the entire world can be imprisoned without crime, then why can't Shies be turned into a landfill, why can’t money be stolen from the budget, and elections falsified? The conformists have already learned to look away and will to be ready to play their role.

“This year, I saw people being beaten on the streets, how life in Moscow was paralyzed by the security forces, who flooded the city with their uniforms and cordons. I saw how our comrades are being detained, and how judges look away when they read out their sentences. But even against this background, the most profound impression was the willingness of ordinary people to accept the new rules of the game. Do you teach at the university? - So keep quiet about what you think about the news. Your colleagues who did not keep silent at the right time are being fired? - So it’s better to write a scientific paper. Do you work in the theater? – You better to make sure that no ambiguity is heard from the stage regarding the current government. Do not you understand that at such a difficult moment for the country, everyone needs to be extremely careful?

“Most of our contemporaries have never lived during the Stalin’s era and reached maturity after Andropov’s rule. However, when certain political clouds appear on the horizon, people begin a program of civil self-destruction. To acknowledge openly the political catastrophe that is happening in our country means to risk one’s career, social position, and possibly - freedom. The catastrophe is most obvious, so the alternative is to live your life not noticing it. Someday, new historians and anthropologists will engage in our era, who will analyze how the hell this muteness happened to that country [Russia] a second time. Look at the bright side, we still will be the heroes of the monographs of the new ‘Sheila Fitzpatrick’.[2]

“Those who have not yet learned to fear are not silent. These are the best of the generation of 20-year-olds, those who are now abandoned by the seniors and face alone an indestructible union of KGB, new ‘Komsomol’ members and corrupt officials. Who will win the country in the 2020s?”



[1], December 23, 2019

[2] Professor of history Sheila Fitzpatrick specializes in Russian history and the revolutionary and Stalinist era. The reference is probably to Fitzpatrick's book "Everyday Stalinism".

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