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Entries / Political Opposition in Leningrad

Political Opposition in Leningrad

Categories / Social Life/Political Parties and Organizations

POLITICAL OPPOSITION of 1930-80s is the general name for independent unions or groups of people consciously opposing the Soviet power. Contemporary research distinguishes between external and internal political opposition on the basis of their attitude to official state ideology. The former was based on ideas and principles originating from pre-revolutionary political parties which groups and organizations were widely spread in Petrograd in the 1920s (from the 1930s, they existed in Leningrad in the shape of scanty illegal anti-Communist organizations), as well as the attitude to present-day foreign parties and movements. The Committee for Liberation of Russia (1947), as well as organizations connected to the emigrant People's Labour Union (PLU; in Leningrad from 1952), including Young Russia Group of Y. L. Levin (1955-56, 3 people were arrested), the Molecule of the People’s Labour Union Group of G.Z. Saraykin (organized in 1986), and B.D. Evdokimov (starting in 1966, he published articles in Posev, an emigrant journal, in 1971, 3 people were arrested in his case), L.Y. Lubman (publicist, arrested in 1977). One trend of the Russian national movement was represented by the national patriotic group Way of V.R. Feiner (3 people were arrested in 1963), and also by the Monarchical Group of N.N. Braun - A.S. Berger (6 people were arrested in 1969). The Union Centre (A.M. Levinstein, Y.L. Toporov were arrested in 1969) was among other anti-Communist organizations. Anti-Communist rallies under the slogan Away with the Soviet Power!” during the demonstration on 7 November 1956 (4 people were arrested) and the fire at the exhibition dedicated to the centennial of V. I. Lenin, The Triumph of Lenin's Ideas, on Nevsky Prospect (E.M. Khyamyalaynen was arrested on 20 April 1970) became the overt manifestation of the political opposition. From the beginning of the 1930s, organizations and groups of democratic or liberal socialism dominated in the structure of the political opposition, they were preceded by various trends of inner party opposition, and also “third way organizations, originating from the Kronstadt Revolt of 1921. These groups were united in their opposition to the ruling Communist Party, demanded democratic reforms and liberalization of socialism. In the 1930s - early 1950s, Marxist anti-Stalin groups the Socialist Students' Union (1932), Lenin's Union (1932), the All-Union National Democratic Party of Progressists (1933), the Youth Organization of Internationalists-Communists-Socialists (1933-38), the Youth Workers' Party Of Communists (1950) and other organizations functioned in Leningrad. The growing number of underground groups in 1957-58 followed the crash of hopes for democratic evolution of the Soviet order created by the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1956). The group of R.I. Pimenov - B.B. Weil (1956-57, 5 people were arrested), the Revolutionary Marxist Group of V. I. Trofimov (1955-57, 9 people were arrested), the Marxist Democratic Group of M.M. Molostvov (1956-58, 5 people were arrested) were among the largest organizations of political opposition of that time. Their members published and distributed leaflets, arranged discussions, and developed programming documents (predominantly within the limits of Marxist ideology). Boundary programmes were represented by programmes of Bell, a Socialist Democratic Group based on the Marxist Theory (1964-65; led by S.D. Khakhaev and V.E. Ronkin; 9 people were arrested) and the group under the name of All-Russian Social Christian Union of Liberation of People, the ideology of which was based on principles of Christian Personalism (1964-67; led by I.V. Ogurtsov, 21 people were arrested). Despite the differences between the original ideas, both programmes treated the Soviet Society as bureaucratic and unfit for reforms, anticipating the overthrow of the existing order through popular revolution similar to that in Hungary (1956) and put the stake on self-governing industrial collectives as a foundation for the future social order. From the middle of the 1960s, organizations of non-political orientation dominated, but underground political groups with programmes continued to appear, including the Union of Communists Group of Y.I. Fedorov (arrested in 1969), Socialist Party Group of E.A. Lalayants (arrested in 1969), the group of G.M. Ushakov (arrested in 1975), the Youth Marxist Organization of A.S. Tsurkov - A.V. Skobov (arrested in 1978), Revolutionary Communards Group of A.V. Stasevich (arrested in 1979), and the group of V.P. Pogorily (arrested in 1984). In the informational vacuum every oppositional group usually developed its ideology from scratch; the ideological tradition in resistance appeared only in the movement of the dissidents.

References: Иофе В. В. Идеология политического протеста, 1930-1960 годы // Иофе В. В. Границы смысла: Ст., выступления, эссе. СПб., 2002. С. 117-125; Его же. Ленинград: История сопротивления в зеркале репрессий (1956-1987) // Там же. С. 176-186.

I. A. Flige.

Berger Anatoly Solomonovich
Braun Nikolay Nikolaevich
Evdokimov Boris Dmitrievich
Fainer Viktor Borisovich (Zaytsev Ustin Gavrilovich)
Fedorov Yu.I.
Khakhaev Sergey Dmitrievich
Khyamyalaynen Eduard Matveevich
Lalayants Eruand Artashesovich
Levin Yury Leonidovich
Levinstein A.M.
Lubman Leonid Yakovlevich
Molostvov Mikhail Mikhailovich
Ogurtsov Igor Vyacheslavovich
Pimenov Revolt Ivanovich
Pogorilyi Valentin Petrovich
Ronkin Valery Efimovich
Saraykin G.Z.
Skobov Alexander Valerievich
Stasevich A.V.
Toporov Yu.L.
Trofimov Viktor Ivanovich
Tsurkov Arkady Samsonovich
Ushakov Georgy М.
Weil Boris Borisovich

Nevsky prospect/Saint Petersburg, city

Иофе В. В. Идеология политического протеста, 1930-1960 годы // Иофе В. В. Границы смысла: Ст., выступления, эссе. СПб., 2002
Иофе В. В. Ленинград: История сопротивления в зеркале репрессий (1956-1987) // Иофе В. В. Границы смысла: Ст., выступления, эссе. СПб., 2002