The Reluctance to Condemn Stalin

It was Nikita Khrushchev who boldly exposed Stalin’s crimes at the 20th Party Congress in 1956, opening Pandora’s Box and unchaining the Soviet Union from the evils of the recent past. But a reaction set in with his ouster and the emergence of Leonid Brezhnev as Party Secretary in October 1964. The Central Committee began imposing censorship once more on any discussion of the past that included direct criticism of Stalin. Finally, under a reluctant Mikhail Gorbachev an admission was made that Stalin divided Poland and helped himself to the Baltic states in 1939-40 in collusion with Adolf Hitler. The secret protocol of the Nazi-Soviet pact signed in August 1939 was finally exposed to view after decades of energetic denial.

The seesaw has under President Putin been tipping back to the time of Brezhnev. It is not just Moscow taxi drivers who talk nostalgically about Stalin. And now the Moscow historical museum has refused to host a discussion about the Nazi-Soviet pact as part of a series conducted with the magazine Diletant and the liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy.

Yet the whole point about Pandora’s Box is that, once opened, its contents released, the act is done and cannot be reversed. Novaya gazeta is our source today:

Исторический музей отменил «Дилетантские чтения», посвященные пакту Молотова — Риббентропа, назвав их «неэтичными»