#7 - JRL 2009-201 - JRL Home

Moscow News
November 2, 2009
A time to heal
By Tim Wall

President Dmitry Medvedev's strong condemnation of Stalinist repression, on the day commemorating the millions of victims under his rule, comes as a timely intervention into a debate that has been raging in Russian society in recent months.

As part of that discussion, The Moscow News is this month hosting a public debate on "Stalin's Legacy for Russia". The event takes place at RIA Novosti's conference centre on Thursday November 19, from 6:30 pm, and all are welcome to attend and participate in what we hope will be a lively and civilised debate.

Our invited speakers and guests represent important strands of Russian and international opinion on the issue.

One side will include trenchant supporters of Stalin's rule and conservative nationalists who support his conduct of World War II but have differing views about Soviet rule as a whole.

On another side of the debate, we have invited people to speak up for the millions of Stalin's victims - who have perhaps not been listened to enough amid the political and economic turmoil of the post-Soviet era.

These include everyone from liberal dissidents and Orthodox priests to Stalin's opponents in the Soviet Communist Party.

Among the speakers will be Archpriest Georgy Mitrofanov, a liberal Orthodox Church historian, who argues in his recent book "The Tragedy of Russia" that the country cannot move ahead unless it comes to terms with its Stalinist past.

We have also invited Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party of England and Wales and a leading theoretician of the non-Stalinist left internationally, to speak up for the hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dissident Communists who Stalin repressed - a trend of thought that was largely wiped out in the dark days of the purges.

We hope this diversity of views contributes to a greater understanding of the issues.

As with similar debates that took place in South Africa under Nelson Mandela's Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the end of Apartheid rule, we hope the current debates allow the country to face up to these difficult issues.

In seeking to heal the wounds of the past for the current generation, maybe we can move forward to a less violent and happier future.

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