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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

SEASON OF DISCONTENT: The Gallows Of Our Social Democrats




Regular readers of this column will know that I never write anti-communist articles. To attack an underdog does not feel quite fair. I always preferred stronger and more dangerous opponents like the president, the government, the oligarchs or the Moscow mayor.


And it even seemed that through its evolution toward contemporary European social democracy, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation might play a positive role in Russia's political life, articulating and defending the interests of the masses whose standard of living and social status suffered during reforms.


Last Friday, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov addressed the 1998 Russia Meeting of the World Economic Forum, delivering an excellent social-democratic speech emphasizing his allegiance to democratic values and human rights. If you closed your eyes you could almost believe you were listening to Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der or Prime Minister Tony Blair. Earlier, State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov greeted delegates in much the same way. Yet the very next day, when addressing a different audience, Seleznyov adopted a very different line, advocating the reintroduction of katorga, or hard labor, with such harsh conditions that prisoners "would beg the Lord for death each day."


"Doesn't he realize how damaging such statements are for Russia's image abroad," one of the organizers of the forum exclaimed to me bitterly.


Poor professor. He hasn't yet seen the speech of another prominent Communist leader, Krasnodar Governor Nikolai Kondratenko. Compared to him, Seleznyov looks like a great humanist, something between Andrei Sakharov and Mother Theresa. Seleznyov, at least, was not appealing for capital punishment and referred only to criminal offenders, but Kondratenko went all the way, demanding mass public hangings of political opponents he defines as "traitors to the Fatherland."


The crash of the oligarchical model of capitalism and the deep crisis of Yeltsin's regime makes it very likely the communists will come to power. Unable to conceal their impatience, they succumbed to the intoxicating smell of approaching power and discarded their social-democratic mask, showing us that they have neither understood nor learned anything from the past. The statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the secret police and architect of the Red Terror, that the communists provocatively intend to return to the center of Moscow is supposed to terrify anyone who dares to stand in their way.


No longer do they consider it necessary to convince people that they have changed, that they are not responsible for the crimes of previous communist regimes. On the contrary, they proudly assume responsibility for the Red Terror, the Gulag, and the liquidation of the peasants, and shamelessly present themselves as successors to the executioners of the Russian people - Lenin, Stalin and Dzerzhinsky.


After the scandalous recent statements by Communist Deputy Albert Makashov one observer wrote: "The Jews can't say they weren't warned."


Nor can Russians say that any more, either. Awaiting us now are Kondratenko's gallows, Seleznyov's katorga and blacklists of journalists who are branded enemies of the people.


Russians have no Promised Land to where they can make their Exodus from the new communist Pharaohs. The only thing that decent people can do is make their choice and take sides with those about to be hanged rather than with the hangmen.