The following letter was sent to Russian president Vladimir Putin by Communist party chairman Gennady Zyuganov on 13 April 2023 and is reproduced here with thanks to the CPRF.
Esteemed Vladimir Vladimirovich
For all of us, 9 May is a sacred date. Victory over German nazism became a great milestone in the thousand-year history of Russia. It is an abiding pride and spiritual mainstay of our multinational people.
Today, the significance of this date is multiplied many times over. Our Motherland is living through hard times. Driven by greed and lust for dominance, the conquistadors have decided to destroy everything Russian. They are consumed by a demon-possessed desire to take revenge and trample underfoot the legacy of our ancestors. They are planning to ruthlessly burn out the layers of the thousand-year-old Russian culture.
Their hatred is ferociously erupting in long-suffering Donbass. Shells are exploding and flames engulf scenes of conflagration. Blood is being spilled on fields that hitherto had been used to peaceful toil. Many once-bustling cities and villages have been turned into silent ruins.
The sword of the barbarians who think they are masters of the planet knows no compassion. It strikes women, children and old folks – those whose only fault is that they do not want to submit to others’ will, to allow their ideals and values to be desecrated, and to give up their roots and the Russian language. These people are executed for their loyalty to their ancestors, the glorious and victorious heroes who have saved the world from the German fascism and Japanese militarism.
The west’s russophobia is unprecedented. The wish of Washington, London and Berlin to solve the ‘Russian question’ conjures up the grimmest pages of the past: the fires of the Inquisition, the witches’ sabbaths of the Nazis, the acts of the Ku Klux Klan. The globalists who have embarked on the path of terror know none of the ‘red lines’ that normal people observe. Their plan to use ammunition with depleted uranium is direct evidence of the criminal character of their imperialist policy.
We should all understand that a war of annihilation has been launched against us. Its aim is to dismember our country, to enslave the people and turn our lands into a zone of colonial plunder. It is fraught not only with large-scale losses: to lose in this situation means to disappear.
The present challenge is as fateful as the Time of Troubles in the 17th century, the Patriotic War of 1812, the foreign intervention in 1918-20, the clash with fascism during the Great Patriotic War and the treacherous destruction of the USSR. The USA and its Nato accomplices have set about to multiply their vicious achievements of the ‘wild 90s’.
Understanding Russian and Soviet history
Our country has faced dreadful peril many times. Sometimes it seemed that Russia would never rise from the ashes. But time after time the perfidious and arrogant enemies suffered a defeat. Against all the odds our country emerged from the trials – not defeated, but strengthened, more experienced and more beautiful. This amazed Russia’s ill-wishers and seemed inconceivable. Even on the edge of an abyss, our people have always found the strength to unite, to cast aside all the trivia and stand their ground in the face of mortal danger.
The Soviet leadership headed by JV Stalin knew precisely what needed to be done on the eve of the clash with fascism. It gave the best answer to the upsurge of nationalism in the west that had engendered the Hitler monster. The readiness of our people to rebuff any enemy was based on profound Soviet patriotism. Every citizen was brought up in the spirit of selfless service to the Motherland and a readiness to defend it until the last drop of blood.
The Soviet state paid close attention to the teaching of history. In May of 1934 the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and the CC AUCP(B) issued a decree ‘On the teaching of civil history in Soviet schools’. It declared the teaching of history at school to be unsatisfactory, stressing that coherent presentation of the historical process had been replaced by “abstract sociological schemes”. It stressed the importance of a “correct analysis and correct generalisation of historical events”.
History faculties were reintroduced at higher education institutions. Work started on a unified textbook, which replaced some 60 existing manuals and presented the Soviet era as a logical continuation of our statehood. The new textbook was published in October 1937.
Art was increasingly involved in the fostering of patriotism. During the Great Patriotic War, the film distribution charts were topped by such masterpieces as Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible, Peter I, Suvorov and others. They portrayed these historical figures as outstanding defenders of the Motherland.
Such are the real facts, which demolish the myths about the ‘dogmatism’ and ‘blinkered vision’ of the Bolsheviks. When power in the country expressed the interests of the workers and peasants, it was at its best in upholding the interests of our country. The Leninist-Stalinist class approach did not impede but helped the Communist party to profoundly see and steadfastly affirm the close link between the interests of the working people and thoughtful patriotic upbringing.
Successes in the development of the Soviet society were consolidated in the 1936 constitution. The new main law removed all restrictions on civil rights. This applied also to such categories of citizens as the clergy, former agents of the tsarist police and of the secret police department. Under the 1918 constitution of the RSFSR and the 1924 constitution of the USSR, these had not been allowed to vote. Thereby the still fragile Soviet statehood protected itself and the millions of working people whose interests it expressed.
As it grew stronger, Soviet power did everything possible to unite society. This was aided even by such seemingly trivial decisions as bringing back the celebration of the New Year holiday. This is how the Pravda newspaper explained the essence of this policy in a 10 February 1936 editorial: “The party has always opposed any manifestations of the anti-Leninist ideology of ‘Ivans who forget their kinship links’ and would paint black the entire historical past of our country.”
Industrialisation, collectivisation, the liquidation of illiteracy, and the rapid modernisation of the Red Army were combined with close attention to questions of history and culture. All this provided a strong foundation for our victory in the Great Patriotic War. The triumph of the Soviet system in May 1945 was the high point of Russia’s historical path.
The Soviet Union inherited all the best things. The policy of Lenin and Stalin welded the ideas of socialism with the centuries-old heritage of a great power and a great culture. Our worldview was forged like armour. Fascist hordes crashed against it. It turned the USSR into the leader of the movement for lasting peace and social progress. A nuclear missile shield was erected which to this day cools the hot heads of Nato’s ‘hawks’.
Lenin mausoleum: foremost symbol of resistance and victory
This combination of historical values and victories provided the basis of our state’s sovereign development. It acquired some shining symbols. Addressing from the Lenin mausoleum the participants in the legendary parade on 7 November 1941, Stalin said: “You are waging a just war of liberation. May you be inspired in this war by the courageous image of our great ancestors Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, Kuzma Minin, Dmitry Pozharsky, Alexander Suvorov, Mikhail Kutruszov. May the invincible banner of the great Lenin fly over you.”
The feat of the heroes who went straight from Red Square to the frontline outside Moscow is immortal. It is no accident that the historical act of unexampled courage of the defenders of the capital is marked every year by 7 November parades – a tradition that you have supported.
Another symbol was the Victory parade on 24 June 1945. This climaxed with the parade of standard-bearers, of which GK Zhukov wrote: “Nothing could compare to the moment when two hundred soldiers, war veterans, to the beating of drums, hurled two hundred banners of the German fascist army at the foot of the Lenin mausoleum. Let revenge seekers and those who like military adventures remember this!”
The people of our country have always remembered that great triumph. That is why the ‘Immortal Regiment’ commemorative marches quickly developed into a broad popular movement. The families of Russian patriots consider it to be an honour to march in its ranks.
After the victory over fascism, the fusion of socialist ideas and Soviet patriotism brought about further accomplishments. Our resurgent country harnessed the atom and ushered in the space era. The USSR united the progressive forces of the planet and contributed to the collapse of colonial empires. The People’s Republic of China appeared on the world map. Vietnam, the DPRK, Cuba, Laos and other countries opted for socialism. China, which has grown into a superpower, is Russia’s key ally in the face of grave threats. It is clear that the PRC is committed to the cause of the Great October of 1917 and the Great Victory of 1945.
When, in 1991, the USSR suffered a defeat, the cause was not the west’s moral right or its invincible might. Nor was it the illusory character of the ‘communist experiment’, as cunning pundits from Solzhenitsyn to Svanidze would have had us believe. The real cause of the tragedy was renunciation of the link between the victorious ideas of socialism and popular patriotism. Soviet power was not ‘an alien phenomenon on Russian soil’; it had absorbed all that was best in Russian history.
Those who wrecked the Soviet Union were simultaneously destroying our culture and education, and our social guarantees, putting our Motherland on the brink. The ‘stewards of Perestroika’ and cynical ‘reformers’ were forcing our citizens to start hating their country and targeted the things that kept it united: collectivism, justice, and the friendship of the peoples.
The current woes of Russia, Ukraine and other republics of the USSR are a direct consequence of the heinous crimes of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. It was anti-Sovietism and russophobia that were directly to blame for the tragedy of the USSR. It was then that fraternal Ukraine began to turn into an anti-Russian bridgehead. Having failed to stem this process, we are now reaping the bitter fruits of the years when Bandera’s ideas were triumphing. Brothers are killing each other while the Nato organisers of the slaughterhouse are gleefully rubbing their bloodstained hands.
A new ‘crusade’ has been declared against us. The empire of evil has gathered dozens of countries under its banners. Their ruling circles are openly committed to dismembering our country. They are even afraid to declare explosions of the Nord Stream pipeline to be acts of international terrorism. Moreover, our adversaries have set about ‘cancelling’ Russian culture. You, as our head of state, have confronted this historic challenge by declaring the special military operation.
It is the bidding of the time to defend our common home against the fascist riff-raff, the latter-day Teutonic knights and insane followers of Hitler. A particular burden sits on the shoulders of the current Russian generation: to stop the slide toward the abyss. The only guarantee is the power of the nation and its national sovereignty. To score a new historic victory, Russia needs an effective economy, high-class science and education, a robust military potential, and the support of allies across the world.
The key condition for victory is the staunchness of the people and their ideological fortitude in any confrontation. We have the experience of our ancestors, who could respond to mortal danger by uniting. Russia needs to consolidate the healthy patriotic forces for the defence, development and flourishing of our beloved Motherland. Our country needs a ‘social contract’ of a new type, the foundation of which is a respectful attitude to the people, solidarity of the working people, and profound respect for the position of the masses.
A patriotic front against the imperial west cannot grow out of the right of some to oppress and rob others. To form such a front it is necessary to cast aside all the delusions that have been imposed on our country at the tail end of the 20th century. Neoliberal dogma has cost our people dearly. It is high time to recognise that nurturing hatred towards the Soviet era is a harmful and criminal practice.
To achieve victory and solve the major historical tasks, Russia needs to unite around creative ideas and inspiring symbols. During these May days, our people pay homage to the great feat of our ancestors with tears in their eyes and with pride in their hearts. It is not a good idea at such special moments to hide the most important symbol: draping the Lenin mausoleum sends an absolutely wrong signal.
We should see the celebration of Victory Day as a key act of people’s unity. The message and content of this event are sacred. So are all its symbols. The shameful practice of draping the Lenin mausoleum is corrosively destructive and cannot be tolerated.
The military parade on Red Square in May 2023 should carry a special message oriented towards the future. The participants in this parade deserve to be greeted from the stand of the Lenin mausoleum. Such a momentous event would be a powerful symbol of our spiritual fortitude. It is inconceivable without strengthening in the hearts of our citizens the eternal longing for truth, humanity and justice!
It is only from such facts, such events and such revelations that the bellows of Russian history can forge new victories!
Long live our Motherland, a sovereign, proud and just country!
Chairman of the CC CPRF, head of the CPRF at the state duma of the federal assembly of the RF