Boris Altshuler: “An influential democratic party has not appeared in Russia ...”
The country urgently needs an informal All-Russian Coalition of independent candidates for deputies, united by a common anti-oligarchic, anti-corruption, antitrust program
A well-known Russian human rights activist, a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Chairman of the Board of the Public Organization “Right of the Child” Boris Altshuler made a keynote address at a meeting of the group. NI publishes a recording of it.
“A year later, May 21, 2021, marks the 100th anniversary of Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov. By the way, the first "swallow" is the first present for this date: the recently published 700-page book “Andrei Sakharov, Elena Bonner and Friends”. There are many on our current human rights topics.
My friends and I are now actively preparing for this 100th anniversary. I will study Sakharov’s Memoirs and other materials, including relatively recently declassified documents of the CPSU Central Committee. And, I confess, now something has opened up for me that I did not know or did not fully realize before. Namely, how close was Sakharov to the very top of the Soviet Olympus of power, how carefully the leaders of the USSR studied everything that he wrote and said. And at all times, including a difficult period of exile.
I will quote the famous joke of Andrei Dmitrievich (this is after returning to Moscow from exile - in response to the remark of the interlocutor that Sakharov is on the top floor of the government): “I'm not on the top floor. I am next to the top floor - on the other side of the window. "The joke is a joke, but it accurately reflects the state of affairs.
After all, Sakharov not only never was an administrator - a leader, he was not a member of the CPSU. He was repeatedly offered to join the party, and he always politely refused, even in Stalin's time. But he was still considered “their own,” ranked among the highest nomenclature. He could write a letter to Khrushchev in defense of a doctor who was arrested for jokes about Khrushchev - this is still 1957. And Khrushchev immediately received this letter, read it, and instructed Mikhail Suslov to respect the academician. And Suslov is the main party ideologist, a conservative of conservatives, whom for a quarter of a century the whole country has seen in portraits and on the podium of the Mausoleum on holidays, meets with Sakharov, delves into. And in fact, Dr. Barenblatt will teach not 8 years, but several months.
Or July 10, 1961 - Khrushchev gathers nuclear scientists in the Kremlin and unexpectedly declares that the USSR will resume nuclear testing - this is after a general (USSR-USA-England) 2.5 year moratorium on testing. All this went hand in hand with a powerful propaganda campaign for peace. I remember, then a joke immediately appeared: "- Will there be a war ?, - There will be no war, but there will be such a struggle for peace that there will be no stone unturned".
Sakharov at this meeting writes a note to Khrushchev - objectively objects to the resumption of the tests. Khrushchev reads the note, and at the banquet, instead of a toast, explains for half an hour that Sakharov does not understand anything in politics. Then in the fall - a test on Novaya Zemlya of the Sakharov 50-megaton Tsar bomb, then awards and kisses in the Kremlin. At a banquet Sakharov planted between Khrushchev and Brezhnev - between the current and future leaders of the USSR. Let me remind you that in 1964 Khrushchev was left behind and Leonid Brezhnev became General Secretary, who endlessly respected Sakharov.
Yes, Sakharov in June 1967, responding to a letter from Larisa Bogoraz, had the opportunity to call Yury Andropov personally on government communications. And again he called Andropov in August 1968 with a request not to punish the participants of the famous, of course, not agreed, demonstration on Red Square with the banner “Hands off Czechoslovakia!”
This is all a saying explaining that amazing fact that I did not know before. May 1968 Sakharov finishes and launches in samizdat his article “Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom” - a considerable amount, a brochure of almost 80 thousand characters, 2 printed pages.
The Sakharov Archive in Moscow contains copies of the now declassified Report of the Chairman of the KGB of the USSR Yuri Andropov to the Central Committee of the CPSU of May 22, 1968 No. 1169-A / OV and dated May 27, 1968 No. 1201-A / OV, which states that “the Committee State Security received the full text of a hostile document produced by Sakharov ... ”- with the appendix of the full text of“ Reflections ”.
Also in the Archive there is a copy of the instruction of the Secretary General of the CPSU Central Committee Leonid Brezhnev: “To members of the Politburo. Please read "- with the paintings of A.N. Kosygina, N.V. Podgorny, A.Ya. Pelsche et al. Indicating the date of familiarization. Of course, Brezhnev himself studied the brochure.
But then, in general, miracles. Sakharov in Reflections suggests concluding a treaty with the United States to ban missile defense systems. That is, he repeats the proposal of himself and other leading nuclear scientists (Yulia Khariton, Yevgeny Zababakhin), which were previously sent to the USSR leadership through the usual official channels and were ignored. And suddenly in June 1968 - a 180 degree turn. July 1 - even 10 days before the first publication of “Reflections” in the West - US President Lyndon Johnson declares that the USSR, in changing its previous negative position, has agreed to negotiations on a missile defense ban. And such an agreement was indeed concluded by the USSR and the USA in May 1972.
But this is not enough. In Reflections, Sakharov calls for a move away from the edge of the thermonuclear abyss, calls for an end to the confrontation with the world of capitalism. And already in 1969, on the initiative of the Soviet side, secret negotiations of the USSR and the USA began on easing tensions between the two countries, about the beginning of a new political process - the process of "detente". In subsequent years, the Head of the USSR L.I. Brezhnev is establishing good relations with US Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter, French Presidents Pompidou and Giscard d'Estaing, German Chancellors Brandt and Schmidt.
Of course, it was too early to relax, and Sakharov understood this very well. And in August 1973 he openly opposed false detente, declaring that economic detente without democratic transformations in the USSR could " lead to the infection of the whole world with the evil that the Soviet Union is eating." The reaction of the authorities is the well-known letter of 40 academics and the mass anti-sugar campaign in the media, which unexpectedly ended on September 9 - the day Brezhnev returned to Moscow from vacation in Yalta. And here is the document adopted at the meeting of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee on September 28, 1973 - this is a draft resolution of the Politburo on agreement with the proposals to deprive Sakharov of awards and isolate him, as an option - to be sent to Narym. However, this project for some reason did not become a decree.
And on January 23, 1980, the day after Sakharov’s deportation to Gorky, Brezhnev wrote in his “Diary” (declassified and published only 4 years ago) about his negotiations with different people about the “tricks of Sakharov.”
So, the USSR headed for detente. The direct result of this attitude was the initiative of the Warsaw Pact countries, that is, in fact, the initiative of Brezhnev to hold the Helsinki Conference in the summer of 1975, where 35 states signed the Helsinki Act with its “third basket” - obligations of the participating countries in respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In the Nobel lecture, which Sakharov wrote a few months later - in October 1975, he welcomes the Helsinki Act and its human rights “basket”. But at the same time, he very wisely notes that "this is not a guaranteed result." And further: “ In our country, which I will now mainly speak of, in the months following the meeting in Helsinki, there has not been any significant improvement in this direction at all; on separate issues, even attempts by proponents of a tough course to "tighten" the nuts are noticed . ".
On May 12, 1976, human rights activists announced the creation of the Moscow Helsinki Group - why are we today. This ingenious invention of Yuri Fedorovich Orlov - to organize independent monitoring of compliance with the human rights clauses of the Helsinki Act - with extreme clarity for the whole world highlighted the inconsistency of the words and deeds of the Soviet leadership.
It is also useful to recall that article 49 appeared in the new "Brezhnev" Constitution of the USSR in 1977, where it is written in black and white: "... Prosecution for criticism is prohibited. Persecutors of criticism are held accountable . ” Personally, on the advice of Sofya Vasilyevna Kallistratova, this formula helped a lot during interrogations in Lefortovo and Lubyanka on the cases of Tanya Osipova and Yura Shikhanovich. I included it as a justification for my refusal to testify in my answer to the investigator’s first question, and then I dictated the same thing for recording all the following questions: “The answer to this question is contained in the answer to the first question of the protocol.”
But for all that, the persecution under the “anti-critical” Articles 70 and 190-1 of the Criminal Code continued demonstratively, including the arrests of members of the “Helsinki groups”. True, Tola Sharansky was also sent “Treason to the Homeland", the prosecutor demanded the highest measure!
That is, it was clear that all these international obligations, the signatures under them of the Secretary General of the CPSU Central Committee, did not affect the real policy of the USSR.
However, I want to emphasize that Sakharov never accused Brezhnev of insincerity. He told me something else: "Brezhnev can do very little." In general, Andrei Dmitrievich never cursed and never turned to personality. “The presumption of decency” - so very succinctly and accurately defined his attitude to people Tatyana Mikhailovna Velikanova - herself a man of unique spiritual qualities.
Sakharov understood that the huge inertial, conservative bureaucratic state machine was simply not capable of noticing such petty whims of Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev as some kind of Helsinki Act, other agreements that he signed. I understood what gigantic mainland forces are operating there - in the Kremlin, “under the carpet” (as Winston Churchill put it). I understood that only comparable forces could induce them to make concessions, even in small, and even more so systemic reforms. And what is needed here is not words, but practical real measures of influence.
One of such powerful and completely non-trivial measures is the involvement of Anatoly Sharansky and other members of the Helsinki groups such pro-Soviet fanatics as the French, Italian, Dutch communists in the defense. I think that this was sensitive for the Soviet party nomenclature, for which the communist ideology was the basis of its power and prosperity.
One way or another, but it was precisely such powerful measures of influence that worked, proved their effectiveness in saving specific people.
And now we’ll be transported for almost half a century and compare that experience with today. Much is the same:
- The bureaucratic system, just like 50 years ago, feeds people with unsubscribes. And we, the RPO “The Right of the Child”, had to constantly apply “space” methods to save a particular child, similar to those that made it possible to save dissidents in Soviet times.
- As before in the USSR, in the Russian Federation, to put it mildly, there is a shortage of political, economic and legal competition. And as an inevitable consequence of this total monopoly is the zero responsibility of officials of any level to the population of the territories under their jurisdiction and the appropriation of the country's wealth by narrow ruling groups to the detriment of the multimillion-dollar population of Russia.
We human rights defenders are accustomed to solving insoluble tasks, to save where it would seem impossible to save.
And for me it is somehow strange, unusual, that for 10 years we have not been able to help families with children who are in absolutely unbearable living conditions or even without housing. And there is also the insoluble problem of the extreme poverty of families with children.
The situation with these social problems was emergency before, and today it has been aggravated many times due to pandemic, quarantine measures and massive loss of income. People are evicted for non-payment from rented apartments, but it is also unknown what to feed the children with.
It would seem that in an emergency, the very moment to announce obvious, applied around the world, emergency support measures, such as:
1) the state housing subsidy program;
2) the program of "food cards", long developed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and year after year put aside in a long box.
Both of these programs solve the dual task of supporting the urgently needy and stimulating the business, including socially significant small businesses.
But it is precisely for these programs that budget money is never enough. But even today, in an extreme situation for many citizens / families, billions of budget rubles are allocated to banking and construction oligarchs to compensate for the “lost profit” caused by the pandemic.
At the same time, as in those ancient times, there is some fantastically demonstrative discrepancy between the declarations of concern for the people and what is really being done.
What to do? We will discuss this main issue for a snack.
Where are those gigantic forces that can prompt the bureaucratic super-monopoly colony that has developed in Russia to turn to face people.
Abroad here is unlikely to help - not in those days.
True, in June 2015, Yuri Fedorovich Orlov and Lyudmila Mikhailovna Alekseeva addressed the OSCE leadership with the appeal “Violations of social rights - a threat to international peace” (https://mhg.ru/news/narusheniya-socialnyh-prav-ugroza-mezhdunarodnomu- miru), where they proposed developing a new “fourth basket” of interstate commitments in order to overcome the crisis in the sphere of observance of social rights that threatens international security. No one answered us. Then I wrote to different addresses more than once. But there was no reaction. I repeat, not those times.
You need to rely only on yourself, on internal Russian forces. Law enforcement is not politics. And we, human rights activists, are not involved in politics and are not fighting for power. But in order to achieve our goals - to protect the rights of specific people, we are forced to turn to politicians and put pressure on politicians. It has always been that way.
And this is truly the great drama of New Russia that over the 30 years of its existence, an electorally significant democratic party has never emerged , or maybe not a party, but rather an informal All-Russian Coalition of independent candidates for deputies united by a common anti-oligarchic, anti-corruption, anti-monopoly program.
Such a Coalition could compete with four “parties of leaders” in elections of all levels - from local to federal. And without such a powerful political competing force, one cannot hope to solve the vital problems of millions of Russians.
We human rights activists can hardly organize something here. But we must raise these questions, which I am doing now.