Ох! басни — смерть моя!
Насмешки вечные над львами! над орлами!
Кто что ни говори:
Хотя животные, а всё-таки цари.
(Griboedov, “Woe From Wit”)
The genial Russian writer Griboedov remarked, quite rightly, that Fables are dangerous and subversive. The crafty fable-spinner pretends that he is writing about lions and eagles; but everybody knows that he is not really talking about animals, he is talking about Kings! And when he draws the moral at the end, people go “Ah!” and see what he was getting at all along.
But the interesting thing about fables is that other people can read the same fable and draw a completely different moral from the one intended by the writer!
But enough of the Aesopian language, and you will soon see what I am getting at. I personally don’t like Aesopian language: I like to just tell it like it is, in plain English. With the understanding that there is not one “single Truth” out there. There are many Truths. Truth itself is a completely class-based concept: The Truth of a King differs from the Truth of a Peasant, not to mention that of a Lion or an Eagle.
Without further ado: I saw this very interesting piece in Komsomolskaya Pravda a few days ago. The writer is Dmitry Steshin, who is one of the Komsomolka’s top reporters. Steshin took a story, a fable, which made the rounds in Westie propaganda media; a story with stock characters: Evil Stalinist NKVD butchers; an innocent and saintly peasant caught up in bloody repressions; an obsessed descendant who goes on a quest to clear his ancestor’s name; the guilt-wracked descendant of one of the butchers. The fable ends with a predictable moral, namely this: It is high time for those Denying Russians to really get down to de-Stalinizing and de-Communizing their mentality. It is time for them to recognize how evil they were, and to truly atone for all the horrible things they did under Communist rule. And to admit that the Westie side was always white and pure, like a little lamb!
But read further: Steshin puts his own twist on the fable and draws his own moral. That maybe the Lion was not so vicious; nor the Eagle’s talons so sharp; Nor was the Lamb necessarily so sweet and fluffy.
This is a fable, but it is also a true story. There is not just one moral at the end, but an entire menu of morals, mutually-contradictory and fully dependent on one’s political ideology. But the only way to get to the good part is to simply hop in and start in medias res. Namely, let’s leave the earlier years (1917-1936) aside (we’ll get back to them later) and just dive into 1937.
The Bloody 1937
As every professional anti-Soviet ideologue “knows”, 1937 was the year of the bloody Stalin repressions, in which seemingly millions and millions of innocent people were swept up in a machine of butchery and murdered wholesale by a state apparatus gone out of control. At least, according to Western historians. More recent studies indicate that the repressions were not on such a scale as were claimed. To be sure, there were many innocent victims. But, as I have always maintained and debated ad nauseam online, the actual thrust of the Stalinist purges were not directed against ordinary people; but rather were part and parcel of the political power struggle within the Party. Rooting out Old Bolsheviks, Trotskyites, and the remnants of the Leninist Central Committee. All part of what Trotsky dubbed the “Thermidor”, a predictable historical process by which a Revolution is succeeded by a partial Counter-Revolution; or, in the Soviet case, an “Adjustment” within the political elite.
Be that as it may, nobody disputes that some thousands, possibly tens of thousands of ordinary non-Party people were also repressed during this time. By “repressed”, I mean arrested, generally sent to a prison or labor camp; possibly executed; possibly died in the labor camp. And they were all innocent of the trumped-up charges against them, right?
Here is an example of one such case:
On December 1, 1937 a 56-year-old peasant named Stepan Ivanovich Karagodin was arrested by officers of the NKVD in his native city of Tomsk. Karagodin was charged with espionage, tried, and convicted. On January 21, 1938, this “Cossack farmer and father of nine” was executed. The NKVD tribunal concluded that Stepan was the organizer of a group which spied for the Japanese army! Please keep in mind that Tomsk is a Siberian city, and one of the oldest Russian settlements in Siberia. Founded by none other than the Good Tsar Boris Godunov! Known for his magnificent bass-baritone singing voice and his ambitious plans to reform Russia into a modern European-type state. Tomsk just happens to be about 4500 kilometers away from the Japanese border. So, it’s out there in the Far East, but still quite a distance for an alleged spy who only possessed in his entire repertoire probably just a few horses and cows.
If you look at the Komsomolka photo of Karagodin and his family, this guy looks like something out of a Tolstoy fable about the “good peasant”, he doesn’t look like he could organize anything beyond plowing a field of turnips; and yet he was accused of being the Japanese Resident spy in the Tomsk region! Ridiculous, no? In the other photo, which I duplicate below, Karagodin sits with his wife and one of his sons — the one playing the balalaika — who looks like the mutant boy from “Deliverance”. The very idea that such a rustic family could have anything to do with foreign espionage, let alone work as moles for Japanese intelligence! Obviously, this innocent peasant Karagodin just got swept up in some whirlwind of events — what Westie historians, weeping glycerin humanitarian tears for the Russian people, call “The Great Terror”.
The Quest For Justice
Skip forward to the year 2012.
Tomsk resident Denis Karagodin, who is a described as a 34-year-old “designer” (presumably a fashion designer?) embarked on a public crusade to rehabilitate his repressed ancestor (great-grandfather) Stepan. Denis, motivated solely by family loyalty and feelings of filial piety, established a website to assist in his quest. A quest which lasted for 4 years and ended with a remarkable success: Denis was able, through a Russian version of a type of “Freedom of Information” act, to obtain copies of authentic NKVD documents, only partially redacted, about his great-grandfather’s case.
Denis and his filial crusade won the admiration of Westie media — the story was picked up by the Radio Free Europe propaganda channel. This was a story just made for Westie sensibilities: Righteous Outrage that Bloody Communists got out of hand, and an innocent man “was executed on the trumped-up accusation that he was a Japanese spy.”
But it gets better: A Westie fable is only half a fable without some type of sentimental reunion between the descendants of the Vic and the Perp. This is what makes for true Hollywood storytelling. The Denis Karagodin website (devoted to his crusade to find and punish those guilty of putting a cap in his ancestor) was clicked on by the granddaughter of one of those bloody NKVD repressors. The clicker, Yulia, was wracked by guilt for what HER mean old ancestor had done to the saintly peasant Stepan. And yet she could not find it within herself to publish her own full name, just hiding behind “Yulia”. By being such a coward and not stepping forward, she committed an even greater crime: She made it impossible for Hollywood to script this story without a full rewrite.
Nonetheless, thanks to the archival documents helpfully provided by Putin’s Bloody FSB, Denis Karagodin was able to determine the actual names of the three NKVD agents who signed off on Stepan’s execution back on that fatal day, January 21, 1938:
- Nikolai Ivanovich Zyryanov
- Sergei Timofeyevich Denisov
- Yekaterina Mikhailovna Noskova
The logical conclusion is that one of these three persons is the grandfather (or possibly grandmother, if it was Katya) of the anonymous “Yulia”. Whose nights are still allegedly tormented by the ghost of her awful ancestor who just whipped out his (or her) Korovin pistol and shot Stepan Karagodin in the back of the neck! Probably chuckling and twirling his or her moustache while doing so.
This story has everything that Westie propaganda tales demand, including a political moral. Which Denis Karagodin lays out explicitly: That the policies of de-Stalinization (Khrushchev) and “glasnost” (Gorbachev) never went far enough to satisfy the ghosts of the victims.
[to be continued]