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From Russia with Lies

From Russia with Lies

Georgiy Mirskiy, historian, Honored Scientist of Russia: “The history of mankind has not seen a more deceitful system than the Russian.” 


I was thirteen years old when Stalin had started the war with Finland. The Red Army had crossed the border, and the next day the Soviet people heard on the radio: “In Terijoki city the revolted workers and soldiers have formed the Provisional People’s Government of the Finnish Democratic Republic.” The father then said: “See, no country will be able to fight with us, there will be a revolution immediately.”

I took the trouble to take out a map, explored it and said, “Dad, Terijoki is just next to the border. It seems that our troops have invaded it on the first day. I do not get it – what kind of revolt and people’s government are these?” Soon it turned out that I was absolutely right: a boy from my class had an elder brother in the NKVD [People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs] troops and a few months later he secretly shared with his brother that he was among those, who have brought comrade Otto Kuusinen, head of the Finnish Communist Party there after the infantry forces of the Red Army entered Terijoki. Everything became widely known later. That is when I, still a child, but beginning to understand politics, thought to myself for the first time: “How can our government lie like that?”

Then a little over two years after Hitler’s attack, I had already been a fifteen-year-old teenager working as a medical aid in the evacuation hospital on Razguliay street, close to the Baumanskaya metro station, and I used to have long conversations with the wounded, who were brought from near Rzhev (not a single one lasted at the frontline for more than five days). What they told me about the progression of war was so different (especially in terms of losses) from the official propaganda, that I no longer had any trust in the government. Many decades later, I found out that only three out of every hundred people, young men born in 1921, 1922 and 1923, mobilized and sent to the front during the first year of war, returned alive and healthy (For the record, our historians and generals are still lying through their teeth, significantly understating our losses – for what and why?).

Twenty years later there was the Cuban crisis, and in the busiest days I had been working as an assistant to the institute’s director, Anushevan Agafonovich Arzumanyan, he was Mikoyan’s brother-in-law, and Mikoyan was instructed by Khrushchev to deal with Cuba. This is why I was in the heart of the events and, based on director’s various speeches, I have guessed that our rockets were indeed in Cuba. With what incredible outrage normally composed Minister Gromyko decried “hateful lies” of the Americans alleging that Soviet put missiles in Cuba!

How indignant Dobrynin, our Ambassador in Washington, was when asked about the missiles, how famous television commentators literally writhed in hysterics, yelling: “How can a single person in the world, knowing about the peaceful policy of the Soviet government, believe that we brought missiles to Cuba?” Only when President Kennedy has revealed to the whole world the evidence based on aerial survey, clearly showing our missiles, they had to back off. I remember the look on Arzumanyan’s face, when he told that his high-ranking brother-in-law flies to Cuba for the purpose of convincing Fidel Castro to not object to humiliating removal of our missiles. Has anyone apologized or admitted it later on? Not at all.

A few years later our tanks rolled into Prague, and I remember how lecturers, propagandists and agitators have been gathered in district party committees throughout Moscow to receive a formal keynote: our troops were two hours (!) ahead of the entry of NATO troops into Czechoslovakia. By the way, the same will then be said about Afghanistan: a few months ago, a taxi driver, an Afghan War veteran, told me: “There are good reasons why we went there, because only in few days the Americans would be in Afghanistan.”

I also remember the story of the shot down South Korean passenger aircraft, which brought the death of hundreds of people. The official version stated that the plane simply went into the sea; all those traveling abroad were strictly ordered to say nothing else. And now how about Chernobyl, when ordinary Soviet people, having believed the official statement (“just an accident”) wrote letters of protest in “Pravda.” Protest against what? Against nuclear power plant being mismanaged into a disaster? No, of course not! Against shameless slander of Western mass media, which is lying about some radioactivity, danger to people’s lives. I remember the photo in a newspaper: a dog, wagging its tail, and the text: “This is one of Chernobyl’s houses. The owners have left for some time, and the doggy is guarding the house.”

For exactly 65 years I had been living in the kingdom of lies. I had to lie myself too, naturally. I was lucky though – being an Orientalist, I could wherever possible avoid the subject-matters, requiring disclosures of the West. Now, when students ask me, “Was the Soviet system really the most ruthless and bloody one?,” I reply, ” No, there were Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, and Hitler. However, the history of mankind has not seen a more untruthful one than ours.”

Why did I recollect all this? I do not know. Perhaps because some information about some unidentified military men has flashed somewhere?

Georgiy Mirskiy, historian, Honored Scientist of Russia

Translated by Katherina Smirnova, edited by Mariana Budjeryn


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