FROM AS far back as 1917, we Soviet citizens had
to hear and obediently swallow all sorts of shameless, not to say
meaningless, lies. That the All-Russian Constituent Assembly was not an
attempt at democracy but a counterrevolutionary scheme (and was
therefore disbanded). Or that the October coup (this was Trotsky's
brilliant maneuver) was not even an uprising, but self-defense from the
aggressive Provisional Government (composed of the most intelligent
But people in Western countries never became aware of these monstrous
distortions of historical events - neither at the time nor later. So
they had no chance to immunize themselves to the sheer impudence and
scale of these lies.
The Great Famine of 1921 shook our country, from the Urals, across the
Volga, and deep into European Russia. It cut down millions of our
people. But the word "Holodomor" (death by hunger) was not used at that
time. The Communist leadership deemed it sufficient to blame the famine
on a natural drought, while failing to mention at all the grain
requisitioning that cruelly robbed the peasantry.
In 1932 and 1933, when a similar Great Famine hit Ukraine and the Kuban
region, the Communist Party bosses (including quite a few Ukrainians)
treated it with the same silence and concealment. And it did not occur
to anyone to suggest to the zealous activists of the Communist Party
and Young Communist League that what was happening was the planned
annihilation of the Ukrainians. The provocative outcry about "genocide"
only began to be take shape decades later - at first quietly, inside
spiteful, anti-Russian, chauvinistic minds - and now it has spun off
into the government circles of modern-day Ukraine. Russia's parliament
was correct this week to vote that the famine should not be considered
Still, defamation is easy to insinuate into Westerners' minds. They
have never understood our history: You can sell them any old fairy
tale, even one as mindless as this.
Soviet-era dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn is a novelist and
© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper