Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s decrees outlawing the Communist Party and confiscating its property after the abortive coup last August have been challenged. Remaining Communists claim that Yeltsin’s actions were unconstitutional. Yeltsin’s followers respond by claiming that the Communists were less a political party than a criminal conspiracy armed with military power.
Initial hearings opened in July; ironically, the Communists themselves instigated the proceedings in protest of Yeltsin’s decrees. Former Communist Party leaders have something personal at stake in the trials: the offering up of thousands of personal memos seized from Communist Party headquarters as evidence documenting its reign of terror. Documents already made public include a 1975 directive for the shipment of arms and ammunition to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – among the most violent of the PLO terrorist entities – to be used in attacks on Israelis and Americans. Although long suspected, this would be the first direct evidence of the Kremlin arming terrorist groups.
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev desperately wants the proceedings stopped, noting the futility of putting “70 years of history on trial.” However, evidence documenting criminal activity during Gorbachev’s tenure as Communist Party chairman may be the real motive behind the former President’s cries of protest. Gorbachev’s plans for an attempt to return to power may already have been squelched by the following revelations: the Communist Party looted the public treasury, financed Marxist parties abroad (among them the U.S. Communist Party), and fostered various acts of oppression. Inmates of gulags and psychiatric hospitals, and the victims of KGB torture chambers may be called upon to testify in the trials.
Billed by the Russian government as a “second Nuremberg process,” the trials could debunk the second totalitarian monstrosity of the 20th century, just as the first exposed the horrors of Nazism to mankind’s shocked gaze, helping once and for all to disillusion its remaining followers in the Third World … and admirers on American college faculties.