After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has appeared democratic on the surface. It gave the pretense of being a docile, capitalist state that would be integrated into the world economy and political system.
But, when we look into its structure of power, we see that the same organization that inflicted terror in the Soviet Union is still calling the shots, and it is not at all ashamed of its legacy.
There is a country that jails teenagers for blowing up fictionalized versions of government buildings in video games; the headquarters of a criminal gang that has been ruling the country…
The political police have always controlled Russia
On December 20, 1917, one of the most deadly organizations of the 20th and the 21st century was founded in Moscow.
Then named CheKa, it amounted to the Soviet political police, and it managed to exert its totalitarian control over Russia, and continues to do so today.
CheKa has undergone a number of name changes, from GPU to NKVD to KGB, and eventually from KGB to SVR/FSB. The name might have changed, but their actions have stayed the same.
They started their “career” by murdering the backbone of the Russian nation in the 1920s, kidnapping young children to abuse them and then recruit as killing machines, burying thousands of Finns and Poles in shallow mass graves in the 1940s.
When the terror lost its momentum after Joseph Stalin’s death, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev exported their murders abroad, gunning down or poisoning any ideological enemies. The campaign of lies continued.
A new kind of war was waged against the West: the propaganda war. This included whitewashing communist crimes, destroying education, and spreading various forms of disinformation.
The Soviets used psychological warfare such as projection, conflict creation, and emotional manipulation; a favorite that still remains today is branding their opponents as “fascists.”
Today a different flag flies over the Kremlin. However, this does not mean the Cold War is over. The KGB lost its power only temporarily after the bankruptcy of the 1990s, but regained it in 1999. Russia has not broken all legal continuity with the Soviet Union; the communist officials have not been sent to prison; the 20th century archives have not been made public.
Putin is just a modern iteration of the same authoritarian system
Instead, the KGB officers now reside in the Kremlin, celebrating the Chekist day on December 20, when their organization was founded. They control all legal processes, with no separation of powers and no rule of law.
Journalists that know too much of their campaigns are frequently found dead, and the investigations mysteriously stop (like in the instance of Anna Politkovskaya, who specialized in the Chechnya war).
In the year 1999, the KGB managed to install their man, Vladimir Putin, in the Kremlin. He then addressed the organization’s agents by saying “We are BACK in power, this time – indefinitely.”
Why “back?” Because the employment structure between the KGB and FSB has not changed. Putin then proceeded to restore the Russian anthem to its Soviet melody, and changed the symbols worn by the Russian army back to those from the Soviet times.
In 2000, Nikolai Patrushev, the FSB director, gave an interview to a newspaper called Komsomolskaya Pravda, one of the largest media outlets in Russia (the word “Komsomolskaya” relates to Komsomol, the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League established in 1918), stating that:
“We did not throw away our history. We are openly admitting that the history of Lubyanka [the CheKa/GPU/NKVD/KGB/FSB headquarters] in the 20th century is our history.”
What a chilling quote. Openly taking pride in the mass murders, lies, and the reign of total control, and openly admitting their continuity with the KGB. It is not a secret. It is being celebrated. Naturally, this interview was published on December 20.
Russia will never change until her people take back control
The Cold War may be over for the West, but it is not over for the caged people of the East.
There is a book on the KGB/FSB continuity, the rise of Putin within the ranks of said organization, and the absence of the rule of law in modern Russia written by two historians – Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky.
But they will not write anything together anymore–in 2016, Pribylovsky was found dead in his Moscow apartment.
When we deal with modern Russia, we are dealing with a totalitarian state that is on an entirely different ethical level. They celebrate power. They see negotiations as weakness. They will retaliate against any Eastern Slavic person who dares to want to be free, and they are not concerned with human rights.
Communism was one face of this regime, but with communism gone they operate under a new banner; it’s any ideology that furthers their agenda to manipulate people – from the far right to the far left.
We may buy ourselves a few years of de-escalation of the current conflict, but until the free Russians take their country back from the hands of the KGB/FSB – that is, until the Soviet Union falls in actuality – their violent nature will not change.
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This piece was first published on the Students For Liberty website.
This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.