Saturday, November 7, 2009

Window on Eurasia: Russian Soldier Who Tried to Kill Stalin in November 1941 Did So for Patriotic Reasons

Paul Goble

Vienna, November 7 – Nikolay Dmitriyev, a native Muscovite serving in an anti-aircraft unit who tried but failed to assassinate Joseph Stalin on the eve of the November 7th anniversary in 1941 did so for patriotic reasons, according to one of the surviving members of the Soviet dictator’s personal guard.
Dmitriyev, retired Mayor Aleksey Rybin told “Svobodnaya pressa,” fired at Stalin’s entourage at the Spassky Gates of the Kremlin, but the soldier failed to hit his target or injure anyone in the parade of cars. Instead, his bullet damaged the car in which Anastas Mikoyan was riding instead of hitting his target (
Not surprisingly, a veil of secrecy was thrown over this action, Rybin said, and the shooter and even his family and acquaintances were subject to “the most intensive methods” of interrogation, apparently in an effort to determine his possible ties to “some political or criminal organization.
But none was found. Instead, “it became obvious” that Dmitriyev had acted alone. More intriguingly, he acted for what he saw as entirely patriotic reasons. “Before the war,” he told his interrogators, “[Soviet] leaders in the newspapers and on the radio always asserted that if a war began, we would fight on the territory of the enemy.”
In the event, however, he continued, “things turned out just the opposite: the German is going ever further and has already reached Moscow. So many people have died. Thus, I decided to carry out my personal court of judgment over the supreme power for its deception of the people.” Those patriotic motives, however, did not save Dmitriyev.
According to Sergey Turchenko, a journalist for “Svobodnaya pressa,” Dmitriyev was sentenced by a military court to “the highest measure of punishment” even though there can be “no doubt that this demoralized anti-aircraft soldier did not represent any serious danger for Stalin. Real terrorist acts were prepared abroad”
In his article, Turchenko provides details about Japanese and German efforts based on information in the files of the FSB Central Archive, from comments by Rybin and also by interviews with Petr Lozgachev, the commandant of the Kuntsevo dacha where Stalin spent much of his time.
But while the “Svobodnaya pressa” account of those events supplement the historical record, the portal’s description of Dmitriyev’s action and even more of his motivation has immediate political meaning: it implies, as some Russians now do, that the Soviet people were in some sense more patriotic than Stalin himself.
And to the extent that is the case, it may make it easier for the current Russian leadership to denounce the Soviet dictator for his crimes, as President Dmitry Medvedev has now done several times over the last few weeks. Indeed, it is even possible that this article may be part of that broader campaign.

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