Alexander Jakovlev - from Lenin to Putin

Posted in Russia | 18-Mar-04 | Author: Dieter Farwick

Not too many members of the inner power circle of the young Soviet Union and of young Russia have survived various phases of brutal purge.

Alexander Jakovlev: "The Power of the Nomenklatura is the biggest threat in Russia."
Alexander Jakovlev is one of them. Thanks to this fact we can read his breathtaking autobiography (German Title: "Die Abgründe meines Jahrhunderts")

Born 1923, he joined the Red Army as a soldier in World War II, finished his studies in Moscow and started a splendid career in the Soviet Communist Party leading to a seat in the "Politburo", the highest level in the Communist Party. He held various positions in the area of foreign politics - propaganda - and media affairs. He became ghost writer of all Secretary Generals from Chrushtchev to Yeltsin. By these functions he had a perfect inside view of the Soviet elite. His ten years as Ambassador to Canada gave him the unique chance to live in a democracy.

His studies of the Russian and Soviet history opened more and more his eyes concerning the character and motivation of Soviet leaders. He had to realise that Lenin - and not Stalin - started the Soviet Union as a regime of terror and murder. Millions of innocent people have been killed in order to strengthen Lenin´s and his successors dictatorship. Millions of farmers - the kulaks - and minority ethnic groups have been murdered or have been forced to leave their homes. They were taken to Siberia. They died during the march or because of inhuman conditions in the GULAG. Following Jakovlev these terrible purges enforced the mentality and attitude of Soviet and Russian people to prefer the role of a slave to that of the boss. The ability to suffer is a special character of Russian people from the Tzar to President Putin. Power struggle at the top of the Communist Party was the only continuity - with Alexander Jakovlev as an eye witness. He offers a lot of insights so far not known to the public neither in the Soviet Union nor in the West.

In the eighties he became an important aide, a kind of spin doctor, to President Gorbachov and one of the most influential godfathers of "glasnost" and "perestroika".

He offers interesting details why "perestroika" and "glasnost" did not succeed neither with Gorbachov nor with Yeltsin.

The biggest threat to any change to a "real democracy" is even today the power of the "nomenklatura" or the "bureaucracy" in close co-operation with the various secret services and the military Corruption, bribery, blackmail, clandestine operations including murder are the tools with a long history in the former Soviet Union and in Russia of today.

By nature autobiographies tend to paint a positive picture of the author. That is true with Alexander Jakovlev, too. But that does not damage the value of his book.

Those who want to understand better what might be the future politics of Russia will find a treasury in the 900 pages written by Alexander Jakovlev with an impressive annex of documentation. The old saying: "The leopard never changes his spots" might come to the reader´s mind.

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