A Russian Socialist’s Perspective

Against the Current, No. 26, May/June 1990

ACCORDING TO Boris Kagarlitsky, a leading Soviet socialist dissident, the anti-Armenian pogroms “were stopped two days before the entrance of the Soviet troops into Baku. And there it was stopped mostly by the efforts of the Azerbaijani Popular Front Then troops moved in and killed no less than three hundred civilians and we have evidence to prove that We know that the troops shot into the windows of the houses where people lived and troops were shooting into the ambulances.

“There was a mutiny in one of the companies sent to Baku; some of the soldiers were killed during its suppression. Reports about the brutalities of the Soviet troops in Azerbaijan were banned from the press. Why does the Soviet liberal intelligentsia—so active in protesting the massacre in Tbilisi a year ago—remain silent on the massacre in Azerbaijan? The main reason is that Georgians in Tbilisi were Christians, traditionally connected to Russia, European culture and soon. The people killed in Azerbaijan were mostly Moslems.

“With regard to Afghanistan, the government tried to hide the fact of defeat by saying it was not a defeat but rather a withdrawal. Fifteen years ago, in 1975, the United States said the same thing as it abandoned Saigon.”

Kagarlitsky continued, “The Soviet army is now in a state of complete disarray…. Although they are still building aircraft carriers in the Soviet Union, there is some kind of consensus [in the army] that the expansion of the armed forces is neither necessary nor possible. What the military would like to have is a highly professionalized army with highly paid generals and officers who could very easily be used for some kind of coup d’etat. Unfortunately, this vision of a professional army is sometimes shared even by the people of the ‘left.’ But everybody agrees now that the armed forces in general are in such disarray that their capacity to fight anybody except the internal enemy is very low.”

May-June 1990, ATC 26

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