9 June 2020
Dmitry Bykov, writer, poet, journalist
Even the sluggish are hurt by Nikolai Platoshkin’s house arrest.
Platoshkin managed to fall under house arrest during universal pandemic house arrest, and, moreover, for something he didn’t do. The Stalinist, the leader of the For New Socialism movement, is accused of inclining citizens to participate in disturbances and has had his computer, movement banner, and family savings (which he was using, evidently, to incline citizens to disturbances under the banner) confiscated. Navalny and some of the democratic community have fairly noted that the unfairly arrested Communist has to be defended anyway, despite the fact that he is their opponent. The repressions against Platoshkin, who holds a doctorate in history and is chair of the department at Moscow Humanitarian University, forces us to face a few serious facts.
Some naive people thought that Putin was dreaming of the USSR’s rebirth. Like hell. Never has there been a more anti-Soviet state in Russia; even the tsarist government didn’t hate the Communists this much. Gleb Pavlovsky is right: the Putinists’ ideal is pre-Petrine Russia. The Communists at least formally admitted that the working man has rights. The present Russian state respects bureaucrats and military leaders exclusively; the rest have to pray to God for them. The Soviet state thought that the people were the country’s master; Putinist Russia views the people as raw material for asserting the bosses’ greatness. The Communists were atheists and internationalists, at least in theory; Putinist Russia is resurrecting the ideals of autocracy, Orthodoxy, and chauvinism. Putin did not lift Russia from its knees, trying to bring it up to the Soviet level–he laid it out flat.
I am neither defending nor vindicating the Soviet state. I am simply making it clear that it shares nothing in common with Putinist ideology and practice. And Platoshkin’s main sin consists by no means of him calling on people to vote against the Constitutional amendments. His main sin is that he is alien by class. He holds a doctorate. He thinks for himself. He teaches. I wouldn’t say he’s a leading contemporary intellectual, but he has had a diplomatic job, has read books, and knows how to talk to young people. He appeals not only to instincts and values not only money. And therefore he’s an enemy, and the Communists, apparently, are starting to guess about their new status.
And the fact that, if Platoshkin were to come to power, he would ignore my defense of the USSR and would be the first to push me down–trying to scare me with that is ridiculous. Everyone would like to push me down now, including a great many people I agree with. I’m used to it by now.
Translated by Marian Schwartz