Editors Note: This is a translation from Russian of an interview originally published at “Elements” No. 3, M., 2000 https://web.archive.org/web/20030901081957/http://arctogaia.org.ru/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=423
“LAST COLONEL OF THE EMPIRE” Interview of “Elements” with the USSR People’s Deputy Viktor Alksnis.
Viktor Imantovich, your enemies have christened you “black colonel”. They put a negative meaning into this expression, but it seems they achieved the opposite effect – they emphasized a number of character traits that were and will always be attractive to any normal person: adherence to principles and consistency in defending their views. And defending them in recent years has not been easy. Where do you get the strength for this?
Victor Alksnis. Apparently it is hereditary; I still feel the strong influence of my grandfather and grandmother. For example, my grandmother, for example, even after 15 years in camps and in exile, retained some tremendous optimism, did not become embittered.
You mentioned your grandfather. After all, he was a fairly prominent person in our history …
V.A. Yes, Yakov Ivanovich Alksnis, the commander of the II rank, before his arrest, was the chief of the Air Force of the Red Army. I myself have never seen him, but I know him both from the stories of my relatives and from documents.
What do you know about his views?
V.A. He was a convinced statesman. Stalinist. It is known that a few hours before his arrest, he spoke of Stalin with admiration. I did not speak from the rostrum, but at home. This is significant.
Let’s dwell on this topic. So much has been written and said about the repressions of the Stalinist period in recent years that it has set the teeth on edge. And at the same time, it is very difficult to consider any patterns behind numerous facts. Everything cannot be explained by the “villainy of the leader” alone.
V.A. It seems that this technique is applied here: show as many trees as possible so that you cannot see the forests behind them. For example, I tried to figure out what happened to my grandfather, but despite the fact that I read the documents, the number of questions I had did not decrease, but increased.
Do you mean the materials of the investigation?
V.A. Yes. At the beginning of “perestroika”, remember, the famous commission of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU headed by Yakovlev, a commission on repressions, was created. So, I applied there, but they refused me. And only in 1990, already as a deputy, I received permission from Kryuchkov to get acquainted with the case. Something has become clear, although it is all very superficial. In addition, I received a transcript of the Tukhachevsky trial.
Why above him?
V.A. My grandfather and Tukhachevsky were friends. And my grandfather was a member of that judicial conference, which tried both Tukhachevsky and Eideman. The interest in this case increased even more after the well-known publications of the prosecutor Viktorov, who wrote that Yakov Alksnis was very active during the trial, “drowning” the accused … According to the transcript, the opposite is true. During the entire process, they were asked only two or three questions. But the strangest thing is the behavior of the accused. The newspapers wrote that they denied everything, did not agree with anything. And in the transcript – full confession. The very fact of a confession, I understand, can be achieved by torture. But there is something completely different: an abundance of details, a long dialogue, mutual accusations, a lot of clarifications. It’s impossible to direct this. There is something mysterious …
How do you feel about the version that Tukhachevsky was a member of the Eurasian “Order of the Polar” and thus could be part of a conspiracy against the Atlanticist influence in the USSR?
V.A. I know nothing of the nature of the conspiracy. But today I am completely convinced that a conspiracy within the Red Army really existed, and Tukhachevsky was a participant in it. So, despite the external abundance of publications, there are more and more questions. To answer them, you need access to all the materials. It would seem: for so long they talked about the need to declassify them. So declassify, finally! An – no. Apparently there are some big riddles in those materials.
Or guesses …
V.A. It seems that there, in the 30s, there is a certain cannon that can shoot at us, in our time. And then everything can turn in a completely different way. In the meantime … So far, a certain idea of those events has been created and everything is being done to support just such a view.
What do you think, what are these secrets that are passed down from generation to generation of our post-October rulers, like witchcraft knowledge for the initiated?
V.A. What is clear is that such secrets do exist. And passed from “communist” rulers to “democratic” ones as a matter of course; relay race, so to speak … There is, as you know, a special folder of the Politburo, which Gorbachev, handing over the cases, handed over to Yeltsin. It contains the most secret secrets of the last decades. But how they waited for the Constitutional Court! Well, they thought, now such a thing will be revealed that everything will shudder. No matter how it is! What were they talking about in court? On the financing of the allies. So it’s a trifle. Many countries are doing this; in real politics this is a common practice, it has been and will be so. And the declassification of the most important materials, apparently, threatens those who are in power today; in those materials exposing the myths of public consciousness. “
Viktor Imantovich, what does the concept of “patriotism” mean for you? Is it a national aspiration or a state one?
V.A. For me it is definitely a state one.
If so, please comment on the actions of many of our patriots, who at one time pushed the idea of the sovereignty of Russia, that is, the RSFSR.
V.A. When I first heard this at the Congress of People’s Deputies in 1989, I was shocked. By that time, I already had experience in the struggle against the sovereignty of Latvia, and suddenly, having arrived in Moscow, I heard that sovereignty is good. When I tried to convince the deputies that it was necessary to fight for the sovereignty of the USSR and the empire, I was accused of misunderstanding … Unfortunately, it was the patriots who once went to the elections to the Supreme Soviet with the slogan of Russia’s sovereignty. But Russia is not the RSFSR. So, the question is, what was the struggle for the sovereignization of? The Democrats quickly got their bearings, picked up and developed this slogan, this idea; and she, in the end, and destroyed the country. Moreover, it was the idea of Russian sovereignty (and not Lithuanian or Latvian) that played the most terrible role. The death sentence for the Union was signed in 1990 at the 1st Congress of RF Deputies. This was the death sentence of Russia, for whose good they allegedly fought. Remember: only about 30 people voted against at that time. All the rest are in favor. Among them were many leaders of the opposition movement – that is what is scary.
But this did not end there. Today, orthodox patriots are in favor of the creation of a “Russian republic.” Thus, they complete the process of the destruction of Russia. The “Russian republic” will finish off the RSFSR in the same way as the sovereignty of the RSFSR destroyed the empire. The most striking thing is that people who are called patriots do not understand that Russia is unique in that it united peoples not along ethnic lines. The common ground plus the imperial consciousness was much more important than the “principle of blood”.
In general, the patriotic movement is very reminiscent of a huge and powerful idling car. Of the four main levels of action – ideology, political science, practical politics and tactics – only the last two are used, i.e. the lowest. There is a constant floundering at these levels, an endless repetition of previous mistakes. Don’t you think that today’s patriotic movement, together with the parliamentary opposition, are following in the footsteps of the Soyuz group, that is, to your possible defeat?
V.A. As for the parliamentary opposition, there is such a danger, but, in my opinion, it exists. But all is not lost. The first and urgent need is to immediately change the way we work. Today it is no longer possible to be just “talkers from microphones”; you have to go out into the street, to work collectives, to trade unions. Big politics is being done there today. Work on the two lower levels that you mentioned, the absence of the faithful, i.e. ideology is really very serious. And it is extremely difficult to fix the situation. Moreover, in the next 3-4 months. By the way, a historical analogy is appropriate here. General Denikin wrote that one of the main reasons for the defeat of the White movement was precisely the absence of a common ideology. The movement could not present a clear program either on the national state structure, or on land, or on other important issues. For the Bolsheviks, on the contrary, everything is clear, primitive and clear: “the land – to the peasants, factories – to the workers, peace – to the peoples.” And it doesn’t matter that it is a lie – the main thing is there would be a program, an ideology. It was with this ideology that they won. Today the role of the Bolsheviks is played by the democrats. The same clear primitivism: “you give the market, you give capitalism and everything will be okay.” Recognizable, huh? And again nobody cares that this is a lie. The main thing is that there would be a program … Is it possible for the anti-communist Aksyuchits and the orthodox Anpilov to have a common economic program? Never. This is the weakness of the patriotic bloc. The regime, by the way, sees this well and so far is not particularly afraid of the opposition: without a common ideology, it is not terrible. However, the regime could collapse as a result of a social explosion. And then there will be a danger of confrontation already within the opposition. Imagine: a tricolor monarchical flag is raised over the parliament, and, say, a red flag over the mayor’s office … And in this situation, the role of a force standing above ideology, a force capable of dissolving warring parties, stopping chaos and anarchy, grows like never before. This is the army. However, to be absolutely precise, the army still has an ideology. This is the ideology of statehood, which will manifest itself, since it will be about the physical survival of the people and the country. In addition, the army today is the only structure, albeit deformed, but still retaining the remnants of centralization, i.e. capable. This is how, in my opinion, the ideological vacuum can be filled.
(the conversation was conducted by A. Sokolov)