Ararat M. Hakobyan
Key words – repression, J. Stalin, fear, interrogation, A. Khanjyan, treachery, trial, prison, A. Amatuni, Dashnak, anti-revolutionary, investigator, Troika, military tribunal, execution.
The collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991 put an end to the monopoly of the CPSU in the territory of the former USSR. Certain conditions were created in the post-Soviet space for the reassessment of certain pages of history. One of the similar periods in USSR, including Armenia, were the repressions of 1937.
We, as well as many researchers are convinced that the policy of repressions was not due solely to Stalin’s personality, his character and cruelty, but proceeded from the Marxist-Leninist doctrine, from the ideological foundations of the Communist Party, as according to their vision all anti-revolutionary, Trotskyist and other so-called «ideologically antagonistic» elements had to be eliminated so that the true communist society could be formed in the Soviet Union and, if possible, in the whole world.
The unique and difficult past of the historical and political development of tsarist Russia also left a mark on the dictatorial character of Soviet power, the successor to autocratic Russia.
The repressive policy was applied practically from the first days of the Soviet power, it lasted in the following decades, and the peak of the repressions was in 1937.
In the mid-1950s, when criticism of the cult of personality began, the blame for repressions was unilaterally imposed only on Stalin. This was done in order to somehow save the reputation of the CPSU. It is also obvious that other leaders involved in this black case, tried to avoid personal responsibility. The reality is that Stalin adhered and consistently followed the Leninist course, while other leaders, out of fear or out of conviction, approved of his policy.
After Stalin’s death (1953), the repressions were greatly reduced. As a result of changes in the international and domestic situation, repressions took a more hidden and mild form, the methods of violence and persecutions changed.
Based on the false position of further aggravation of the class struggle, the party-state bodies formed an unhealthy socio-political atmosphere of distrust, fear and betrayal, in order to put pressure on people. In consequence of this policy, people often reported to each other without any grounds to expose the so-called «enemies of the people».
Mostly through false testimony, torture during interrogations, falsification of signatures and other methods, «confessions» were often extorted, groundless accusations, court judgments were made. Judicial proceedings lasted only 15-20 minutes and military tribunals or Trojkas sentenced thousands of innocent people to 1 category (execution) and the second category (prison and exile).
According to available data, in 1920-1953 the total number of repressed people in Armenia was about 42,000. The most absurd is that the authorities of Soviet Armenia periodically received from Moscow a concrete plan on how many «enemies of the people» they should expose, and the Armenian government has always exceeded its plan to emphasize its adherence to the ideas of Marxism-Leninism and socialism. Planning the economy for the Soviet system can be understandable, but the fact that even the human life was planned, proves that the system was dictatorial.
Our observations of a thousand terminated and declassified court cases in the fund 1191 of the Armenian National Archive show that in the 1930s there were no political or anti-Soviet, terrorist, Trotskyist, Dashnak and nationalist groups and organizations in Armenia. The reality is that there were some individuals, writers and intellectuals in Armenia, who were concerned by the problems facing their country and the Armenian people, so they expressed a desire that the unjustly occupied lands of Armenia, such as Kars, Karabakh, Surmalinsky district, Nakhchivan and others were returned to Armenia.
80 years after political repressions, our observations allow not only to restore the historical reality and pay tribute to thousands of innocent victims, but also provide an instructive lesson for those who have dictatorial tendencies and send a message to democratic states and civil society so that they live and never forget about freedom and justice.