Opinion Journal: What Gulag? Russia's government shamefully refuses to face up to the horrors of communism. BY DAVID SATTER
There is still no legal evaluation of the Soviet regime: It has never been declared criminal and no official has ever been tried for crimes committed under communism. The result is that former communist leaders in Russia are viewed as leaders first and criminals second (if at all), no matter how heinous their actions. Russians, thus, frequently lack the conviction, intrinsic to free men, that an individual answers for his actions no matter what the external conditions. Since the Soviet regime was not repudiated, the Russian government became the Soviet regime's legal successor. This has meant that millions of victims of repression were rehabilitated, usually posthumously, by being cleared of official charges--rather than have those charges voided as the product of a deranged system. The regime, therefore, continued to judge its victims, rather than the other way around.
As the Soviet Empire fractured, symbols of the Party were dismantled. Huge statues of Lenin and Stalin were toppled, alternately grieved or abused by onlookers, then trucked away to be abandoned in fields or other remote spots, where one could stroll among the enormous body parts of the former high priests of communism. Here a passerby takes an opportunity to gives Lenin a scolding while construction workers who helped dismantle the statue look on. (used by arrangement with Karin Kramer Verlag, Berlin)