Putin's and Stalin's reigns have been often compared. Stalin has been generally depicted in the West as one of the most despotic leaders in the world. At the same time he is also associated with crafty political skills, especially in ridding himself of his close colleagues whom he suspected of being his most dangerous political rivals.
Throughout Vladimir Putin's leadership, the FSB (successor to the KGB) has been his most popular source of appointments to high-level government positions and lucrative state-owned concerns. It is universally known that the Lubyanka, the FSB's headquarters, is the historically infamous location in which Stalin's victims were detained in inhuman conditions, tortured and shot.
Academics suggest that post-Soviet Russians, lacking in alternative models of governing are confused by the phenomenon of Stalin. Therefore the poll results are more of an indication of feelings of dependency and confusion rather than authentic support for a dictator.
Poll results have indicated that the public is generally ambivalent and divisive about Stalin.
In previous columns in this series it has been mentioned that Nikita Krushchev purportedly sought to reject the rule of terror that held the privileged as well as the general populace in a permanent dread of being persecuted for political crimes. Although his campaign did not target the basic tenets of communism and focused on condemning Stalin,
The Sinyavsky-Daniel trial was accompanied by a press campaign of vicious denunciation. Reactionaary members of the Brezhnev regime obviously intended the press invectives and the prosecution to be a signal of a stricter cultural environment and a warning to the country's intellectuals to toe the line.
Even though the Sinyavsky-Daniel trial was in lock-step with neo-Stalinist intimidation of the intellectual community, the closed court process still provoked protests.
The government-sanctioned USSR Union of Writers sent a letter ("Letter of 63") to the presidium of the Twenty-Third Congress of the Communist party stating that
Krushchev's Thaw at first glance seemed to be a genuine liberalization within society and a concerted effort to loosen governmental controls (albeit in a very limited fashion) over many aspects of life.
However a closer look at a few changes within the cultural sector may give one a slightly different picture. For instance, unarguably,
Nikita Krushchev's policies of de-Stalinization from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s has been seen to include the release of millions of political prisoners from the Gulag forced labour system, the significant easing of censorship and repression. (The Gulag population of thirteen million was decreased to five million.)
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