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Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken another step in the glorification of his nation’s communist past and the exoneration of communism’s bloody history, according to a recent report published in the Italian news daily Corriere della Sera.
The Putin government has allowed Russia’s internal security organization, the FSB, to issue a calendar – meant only for use within the organization – commemorating several former Soviet holidays, while portraying Russian security headquarters on Lubyanka Square as it appeared before the collapse of the USSR.
Corriere della Sera obtained a copy of the spy calendar after a Russian newspaper secretly photographed it.
The calendar’s issuance follows several actions by the Putin government re-establishing Soviet customs and usage, which include the Russian military’s use of Soviet insignia and revival of the Soviet anthem – but with different lyrics.
Featured prominently in the new FSB calendar is the statue of the founder of the Soviet secret police, Felix Dzerzhinsky, generally regarded in the West as a purveyor of terror and murder.
In reality, the statue was one of the first Soviet monuments to be toppled as the USSR collapsed. Its removal – accompanied by cheering crowds – is considered one of the defining moments of the fall of the Soviet state.
The Communist Party and the Russian intelligence community have sought – so far in vain – to have Dzerzhinsky’s statue placed back on its pedestal. It now lies rusting in a grassy area in front of a Moscow art gallery.
At the request of Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin, Dzerzhinsky, on Dec. 20, 1917, organized an intelligence service referred to as the “Cheka,” the abbreviation for the “Extraordinary Commission for the Struggle against Counterrevolution, Espionage, Speculation and Sabotage.” All subsequent Russian intelligence organizations, including the notorious KGB, are traced back to the Cheka.
Corriere della Sera points out that Putin, as well as Russian intelligence officers both past and present, observe Dec. 20 as the common anniversary date for all Russian intelligence services. The date is marked in red on the new FSB calendar.
All Russian intelligence service officers also refer to each other as “Chekists.”
Ironically, no mention is made of the very effective Tsarist intelligence service, the Okhrana, whose methodology was copied by Dzerzhinsky’s communists.
Putin asserts that the Russian secret police only “went bad” under Josef Stalin, who took power following Lenin’s death in 1924.
“This is not true,” Corriere della Sera reminded its readers, recounting instances that earned Dzerzhinsky and the Cheka a well-deserved reputation for terror and mass murder before Stalin.
Corriere della Sera rhetorically asked, “Aren’t the Chekists … ashamed to commemorate the very individual who followed to the letter” Lenin’s directives on the elimination of the Russian middle class?
Seeking to hold present-day “Chekists” accountable for the pride they demonstrate in the early Soviet past, Corriere della Sera invoked an often quoted slogan of the Dzerzhinsky era: “We are not fighting a war against individuals, we are exterminating the bourgeois as a class.”
The bloody early Chekist history became more vivid as Corriere della Sera provided additional historical information.
“In Kharkov prisoners were flayed alive; in Poltava priests were impaled; in Odessa captured white officials (Tsarist opponents of Lenin’s communists) were slowly fed into furnaces,” Corriere della Sera reminded its readers.
Observed Corriere della Sera, “The Cheka was exactly what Lenin wanted it to be – an army of devastation.”