Да здравствует созданный
Единый, могучий Советский Союз!
An unbreakable union
of free republics,
Forged forever to stand
by Great Russia!
Long live the creation
of the will of the people,
The united, mighty Soviet Union!
(first stanza of Soviet national anthem of the Stalin era)
Today continuing my review of this piece by Evgeny Krutikov. Where we left off, we were discussing the incident known as the Leningrad Affair, or Leningrad Case. This is the one where the Beria-Malenkov clique came out in opposition to the plan to set up a product-exchange market within the Russian Soviet Republic. Normally Russians got the short end of the stick: All the good stuff was shipped out to the other Republics, leaving Russians with a smaller (and often inferior) selection of consumer goods and food.
This was a function of the “planned economy” and some of the craziness that happened within the Plan. I have to say, though, that there was a method even in this madness. There was an implicit social contract here: Live a more modest lifestyle in return for better security. Russians were physically more secure living in a broader Empire with larger borders and less vulnerability to foreign (America/NATO) meddling and regime-change wars. But ordinary Russians, blind to the Big Picture, might not see it that way. Although they came to learn that lesson later, and many other bitter lessons, in the past few decades.
But the fairground was only the icing on the cake: Part of this “Great Russian plot” was to create a Communist Party organization just for the Russian Republic. And that, paradoxical as it might sound to those who don’t really “get” Soviet history, constituted the biggest threat of all to the integrity of the Soviet Union as a federation of republics.
Anyhow, what I am trying to say is that Malenkov and Beria were not just seasoned office-intriguers, they may have sensed a real threat here to the future of the Union itself. And, lacking any scruples, they were not shy about rushing to the Big Boss to denounce their opponents as traitors. Beria presented the plan as an attempt to create an alternative center of power in the USSR on the basis of the largest Republic, along with a return to the dreaded “Great Russian chauvinism and imperialism”. The most dangerous threat to socialism itself came not even from the fairground, but from the proposal to build a Russian Communist Party. Which would then constitute a threat to the Federal Bureaucracy of the USSR. Beria and his people were ensconced in the federal bureaucracy and controlled the security organs. In all the major Republics (Ukraine, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan), the Ministers of the KGB and MVD were either ethnic Mingrels or Gruzian Armenians who had been placed in these jobs by Beria himself. Specific examples: Tsanava, Rapava, Goglidze, the Brothers Kobulov, Mamulov, and Dekanozov. All of whom were fated to die alongside their mentor, when the time came. Not unlike a dead Rajah dragging his wives along with him into the funeral pyre.
By 1951 even Stalin was getting sick of these “Mingrelian cadres of Beria”, and started tinkering with the idea of correcting this disproportion. An egregious example of an ethnic upstart in the Security Forces was Sergei Arsenievich Goglidze, one of Beria’s creatures who was brought from Uzbekistan to head Soviet counter-intelligence at the Federal level.
Sidebar on Goglidze Biography
Goglidze had an impeccable Soviet biography. Born in 1901 the son of a lowly cook, name of Arsen Goglidze. The family was ethnic Gruzian, but Sergei was born and raised in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. His mom was named Olga Kalmakhelidze. He had two younger brothers, Viktor (who went on to become a famous chess player), and Vladimir (who was later killed in the war, in 1942).
In 1917 Sergei was drafted into the army, served in the Simbirsk Regiment, later joined the Red Army of Workers and Peasants.
In 1920 his career turned in the criminological direction when he served on the Revolutionary Tribunal of the Turkestan Front. Simultaneously he was taking classes at the Middle School in Tashkent, trying to complete his education. In 1921-22 he worked as a Commissar, still in the Red Army. In 1922-23 he worked as a Border Patrol agent in the Ukraine. He was transferred to the Caucasus in 1923, which is where he met Beria. In 1928-29 Goglidze went back to school, this time Military Academy, at the Frunze Academy, for Officer Training. Within his specialty of Border Security, he rose through the ranks of the GPU, and in 1934 was promoted as head of the NKVD for Gruzia. By this time Goglidze had become a cruel and tough guy; one of the men he interrogated in 1936 (Davlet Kandalia, a chauffeur) later reminisced how Goglidze had shoved a pistol into his (Davlet’s) mouth and knocked out one of his teeth in the course of the interrogation. Still another indication how this generation of Communist Revolutionaries had become hardened and made cruel by their traumatic experiences in the Civil War and later purges.
In 1937 Goglidze rose still higher in the ranks, becoming a Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He continued to run the NKVD of Gruzia. And then something different: In 1938 he was sent to run the NKVD in Leningrad. Where he purged all the remaining people who had been placed by Ezhov. With that nasty job under his belt; from 1939 he was a candidate member of the Central Committee of the Party.
Goglidze spent the war years running the NKVD in Khabarovsk, in the Far East. Where he lived in a house and was often seen attending games of the “Dinamo” football team. After the war, in 1951, he was transferred to Moscow, where he was put in charge of the railways and water transport system. And then, in November of 1951 back to Uzbekistan, where his life had begun! But now in the post of Minister of Internal Security. Not a bad gig for the son of a cook. And then, just a couple of months later, back to Moscow! Word on the street had it, that Goglidze was thick into the investigation of the so-called “Doctors Plot” against Stalin.
When Stalin died, Beria reorganized the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union, and put Goglidze in charge of counter-intelligence of the Soviet armed forces.
And then, we all know what happened next: Beria was arrested, and along with him all of his friends, including Goglidze. They were all stripped of their medals and military titles, and then shot in the back of the head. Such is the fate of those whose team loses the Big Game.
[to be continued]