Vladimir Kara-Murza, writing on World Affairs:
Contrary to popular belief, not all Soviet bloc countries were one-party states. Some had “multiparty” systems, with the Communists formally sharing power with other political groups: People’s Party and Freedom Party in Czechoslovakia, Democratic Party and United People’s Party in Poland, the Christian Democratic Union and Liberal Democratic Party in East Germany. Indeed, the Socialist Unity Party did not even have an overall majority in the East German “parliament”, which was for years chaired by CDU politician Gerald Goetting. Needless to say, all “non-communist” parties faithfully towed their governments’ (and Moscow’s) line, for all intents and purposes serving as subsidiaries of the regime.
Translator’s Note: This caught my eye today as it rather continues the thought I was illustrating recently about how Russia and the Soviet Union before it seem to think that vile crimes can be whitewashed by awarding medals to the perpetrators of crimes instead of prosecuting them. The article below by EJ’s Kara-Murza is about the poor places in Russia lumbered with the names of executioners instead of their proper names.
Executioners on the Map in Russia
Vladimir Kara-Murza (Jr.)
21 July 2009
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
I never thought that I would ever find myself in agreement with Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin about anything. A former KGB man (it is rumoured that Vladimir Ivanovich worked in the KGB’s New York residency in the 1980s), a current member of the Ozero dacha compound, the director of a number of companies, the patron of various “state-patriotic” organisations, and the head of RZhD Russian railways, Yakunin could serve as a generic portrait of the Russian élite in the age of the Chekist kleptocracy.
In early July, however, the State Railways Corporation issued an instruction that Moscow’s Leningrad Station was to revert to its historic name – Nikolayev Station – and made it known that this was not the last name change that would take place. The instruction remained in force for no more than a few hours: after an urgent telephone call from on high, it was rescinded and the Moscow map reacquired a railway station named after a non-existent city, which itself was named after the pseudonym of the founder of one of the cruellest and bloodiest régimes the world has ever seen.
This railway station affair, one can readily imagine, will surely put paid to any further contemplation of reformist ideas by the head of RZhD. But a broken watch shows the right time twice a day for all that.