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The False Thaw

Paul Goble blogs today about comments made by Irina Pavlova and others regarding the willingness of the West to buy into the idea of rapprochement, while others think that government policy is taking yet another step back toward Stalinism.

But instead, the Moscow commentator continues, “many are concluding that the powers that be [in the Russian Federation] are sending signals [to their own people and the West] about the beginning of a change in policy direction and perhaps about the coming or a new ‘thaw’ or even ‘perestroika.'”


To think in that way, Pavlova argues, is to betaken in by the regime because “all these conversations about signalstestify, to put it mildly, about the lack of any appreciation of howthe much-ballyhooed ‘vertical’ of power actually operates,” a failureof perception that is especially sad in the case of those Westernscholars who have studied the Stalinist regime.

Were SheilahFitzpatrick, the author of “Everyday Stalinism,” to talk about”signals” today, that would be “unforgivable,” the Grani.ru commentatorsuggests, because the American professor knows on the basis of herresearch that Russian leaders don’t send “signals,” they show theirintent by actions that they have often taken great pains to separatethemselves from.

“The real powers that be [in Stalin’s time] actedaccording to the laws of conspiracy, in secret not only from the peoplebut from their own party and outside the bounds of the Constitution.”Only when people saw what took place, Pavlova suggests, could theybegin to divine what the leaders really intended.

Russia’s”present powers that be,” the Grani.ru writer adds, “operate in exactlythe same way. Is much known to society now, including the members ofthe United Russia Party about the secret and top secret directives ofthe hidden behind the scenes politburo of the FSB, MVD, MFA or theMinistry of Defense which are then presented in the directives of theseagencies?”

“It is completely certain that many of these directivesare given orally so that it will be possible to reconstruct them onlyon the basis of the actions that follow.” And thus, the Moscow analystsays, “the inalienable aspects of such a conspiratorial type of powersthat be are the lie and conscious disinformation.”