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Encyclopedia > Human rights in the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union was a single-party state where the Communist Party officially ruled the country according to the Soviet constitution [1]. All key positions in the institutions of the state were occupied by members of the Communist Party. The state proclaimed its adherence to Marxism-Leninism ideology that restricts rights of citizens on the private property. The entire population was mobilized in support of the state ideology and policies. Independent political activities were not tolerated, including the involvement of people with free labour unions, private corporations, non-sanctioned churches or opposition political parties. The regime maintained itself in political power by means of secret police, propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, personality cult, restriction of free discussion and criticism, the use of mass surveillance, and widespread use of terror tactics, such as political purges and persecution of specific groups of people. Therefore, the Soviet Union was regarded as a totalitarian state by prominent historians, such as Robert Conquest, Richard Pipes, Karl Popper, Hannah Arendt, Carl Friedrich, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Juan Linz. States in which a single party is constitutionally linked to power are coloured in brown. ... The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Russian: Коммунисти́ческая Па́ртия Сове́тского Сою́за = КПСС) was the name used by the successors of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party from 1952 to 1991, but the wording Communist Party was present in the partys name since 1918 when the Bolsheviks became the Russian... Vladimir Lenin in 1920 Leninism is a political and economic theory which builds upon Marxism; it is a branch of Marxism (and it has been the dominant branch of Marxism in the world since the 1920s). ... This page deals with property as ownership rights. ... An ideology is an organized collection of ideas. ... A union (labor union in American English; trade union, sometimes trades union, in British English; either labour union or trade union in Canadian English) is a legal entity consisting of employees or workers having a common interest, such as all the assembly workers for one employer, or all the workers... A corporation is a legal person which, while being composed of natural persons, exists completely separately from them. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... A political party is an organization that seeks to attain political power within a government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns. ... Political power (imperium in Latin) is a type of power held by a person or group in a society. ... // Secret police (sometimes political police) are a police organization which operates in secrecy for the national purpose of maintaining national security against internal threats to the state. ... An Australian anti-conscription propaganda poster from World War One Propaganda is a certain type of message presentation directly aimed at manipulating the opinions or behavior of people, rather than impartially providing information. ... Mass media is a term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience (typically at least as large as the whole population of a nation state). ... Adolf Hitler built a strong cult of personality, based on the Führerprinzip. ... Freedom of speech is enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is granted formal recognition by the laws of most nations. ... Mass surveillance is the pervasive surveillance of an entire population, or a substantial fraction thereof. ... Terrorist redirects here. ... The concept of Totalitarianism is a typology or ideal-type used by some political scientists to encapsulate the characteristics of a number of twentieth century regimes that mobilized entire populations in support of the state or an ideology. ... Dr. George Robert Ackworth Conquest (born July 15, 1917), British historian, became one of the best-known writers on the Soviet Union with the publication in 1968 of his classic account of Stalins purges of the 1930s, The Great Terror. ... Richard Pipes, Warsaw (Poland), October 20, 2004 Richard Edgar Pipes (b. ... Sir Karl Raimund Popper, CH, MA, Ph. ... Hannah Arendt (October 14, 1906 – December 4, 1975) was a Jewish-American political theorist. ... Carl Joachim Friedrich (* June 5, 1901 in Leipzig; † 1984)) was a German-American professor of political science. ... Zbigniew Brzezinski Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski (born March 28, 1928, Warsaw, Poland) is a Polish-American political scientist, geostrategist, and statesman. ... Juan J. Linz is the Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University, best known for his theories on Totalitarian and Authoritarian systems of government. ...


Loss of life

The Soviet authorities caused the deaths of millions of their own citizens in order to eliminate domestic opposition to the Soviet Union. It includes the persecution of members of nations incorported into the USSR which since the fall of the USSR live in states independent of Russia. The number of people killed under Joseph Stalin's regime in the Soviet Union has been estimated as between 3.5 and 8 million by G. Ponton [2], 6.6 million by V. V. Tsaplin [3], 9.5 million by Alec Nove[4], 20 million by The Black Book of Communism [5], 50 million by Norman Davies[6], and 61 million by R. J. Rummel[7]. The numbers of victims are inconsistent because they are determined using different criteria and methods and counted during different periods of time. Most recent publications are probably more reliable. The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression is a book authored by several European academics and senior researchers from CNRS, and edited by Dr. Stéphane Courtois. ... Prof. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

Political repression

Soviet political repression was a de facto and de jure system of prosecution of people who were or perceived to be enemies of the Soviet system. Its theoretical basis were the theory of Marxism about the class struggle and the resulting notion of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Its legal basis was formalized into the Article 58 in the code of RSFSR and similar articles for other Soviet republics. An extensive network of civilian informants - either volunteers, or those forcibly recruited - was used to collect intelligence for the government and report cases of dissent.[8] For most of the history of the Soviet Union, its political system was characterized by divergence between the formal system as expressed in the Constitution of the Soviet Union and actual practice. ... Marxism refers to the philosophy and social theory based on Karl Marxs work on one hand, and to the political practice based on Marxist theory on the other hand (namely, parts of the First International during Marxs time, communist parties and later states). ... Class struggle is class conflict looked at from a Marxist, libertarian socialist, or anarchist perspective. ... The dictatorship of the proletariat is a term employed by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program that refers to a transition period between capitalist and communist society in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. The term refers to a... Article 58 of the Russian SFSR Penal Code was put in force on February 25, 1927 to arrest those suspected guilty of counter-revolutionary activities. ... State motto: Пролетарии всех стран, соединяйтесь! (Workers of the world, unite!) Official language None (Russian in practice) Capital Moscow Chairman of the Supreme... Evolution of the Soviet Republics from 1922 to 1958. ... Those who supply information to enforcers of law or administration. ...

The term "repression", "terror", and other strong words were normal working terms, since the dictatorship of the proletariat was supposed to suppress the resistance of other social classes which Marxism considered antagonistic to the class of proletariat. The entire "ruling classes" have been exterminated, including "rich people", and a significant part of intelligentsia and peasantry labeled as kulaks. The numerous victims of extrajudicial punishment were called the enemies of the people. The punishment by the state included summary executions, torture, sending innocent people to Gulag, involunatry settlement, and stripping of citizen's rights. Usually, all members of a family, including children, were punished simultaneously. The repressions have been conducted by NKVD in several consequitive waves known as Red Terror, Collectivisation, Great Purge, and others. The repressions against "ruling classes" and general population were practiced in Soviet republics and at the territories "liberated" by Soviet Army during World War II, including Baltic States, Eastern Europe, China, and North Korea. Social class refers to the hierarchical distinctions between individuals or groups in societies or cultures. ... The proletariat (from Latin proles, offspring) is a term used to identify a lower social class; a member of such a class is proletarian. ... The term ruling class refers to the social class of a given society that decides upon and sets that societys political policy. ... The notion of an intellectual elite as a distinguished social stratum can be traced far back in history. ... Kulaks (from the Russian кулак (kulak, fist)) is a pejorative term extensively used in Soviet political language, originally referring to relatively wealthy peasants in the Russian Empire who owned larger farms and used hired labor, as a result of the Stolypin reform introduced since 1906. ... Extrajudicial punishment is physical punishment without the permission of a court or legal authority, generally carried out by a state apparatus needing to rid itself of a dangerously disruptive influence. ... The term enemy of the people (Russian language: враг народа, vrag naroda) was a fluid designation under the Bolsheviks rule in regards to their real or suspected political or class opponents, sometimes including former allies. ... The word torture is commonly used to mean the infliction of pain to break the will of the victim(s). ... Gulag ( , Russian: ) is an acronym for Главное Управление Исправительно—Трудовых Лагерей и колоний, Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey i kolonii, The Chief Directorate [or Administration] of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies of the NKVD. Anne Applebaum, in her book Gulag: A History, explains: // Literally, the word GULAG is an acronym, meaning Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, or Main Camp... Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union took several forms. ... Lishenets (Russian: лишенец), literally translated as disenfranchised, was a person stripped of the right of voting in the Soviet Union of 1918 — 1936. ... The NKVD (Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del )(Russian: НКВД, Народный комиссариат внутренних дел) or Peoples Commisariat for Internal Affairs was a government department which handled a number of the Soviet Unions affairs of state. ... The Red Terror was a campaign of mass arrests and deportations targeted against counterrevolutionaries in Russia during the Russian Civil War. ... In the Soviet Union, collectivisation was a policy introduced in the late 1920s, of consolidation of individual land and labour into co-operatives called collective farms (Russian: , kolkhoz) and state farms (Russian: , sovkhoz). ... The Great Purge (Russian: , transliterated Bolshaya chistka) is the name given to campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin during the late 1930s. ... In its final decades of its existence, the Soviet Union consisted of 15 Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR), often called simply Soviet republics. ... This article is about the armed forces of the Soviet Union. ... Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Nazi Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Harry Truman Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead... Baltic states and the Baltic Sea The Baltic states or the Baltic countries is a term which nowadays refers to three countries in Northern Europe: Estonia Latvia Lithuania Prior to World War II, Finland was sometimes considered, particularly by the Soviet Union, a fourth Baltic state. ... Regions of Europe as delineated by the United Nations (UN definition of Eastern Europe marked salmon):  Northern Europe  Western Europe  Eastern Europe  Southern Europe Pre-1989 division between the West (grey) and Eastern Bloc (orange) superimposed on current national boundaries: Russia (dark orange), other countries of the former USSR (medium...

State repression led to uprisings, which were brutally suppressed by military force, like the Tambov rebellion, Kronstadt rebellion, or Vorkuta Uprising. During Tambov rebellion, Soviet military forces widely used chemical weapons against civilians. [9] Most prominent citizens of villages were often taken as hostages and executed if the resistance fighters did not surrender. The Tambov Rebellion of 1919–1921 was a large peasant rebellion against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War. ... This article is about the events that took place in Russia, 1921. ... The Vorkuta Uprising was a major uprising of the concentration camp inmates in Vorkuta in the summer of 1953, shortly after Joseph Stalins death. ... Early detection of chemical agents Sociopolitical climate of chemical warfare While the study of chemicals and their military uses was widespread in China, the use of toxic materials has historically been viewed with mixed emotions and some disdain in the West (especially when the enemy were doing it). ... A hostage is an entity which is held by a captor in order to compel another party to act or refrain from acting in a particular way. ...

After Stalin's death, the suppression of dissent was dramatically reduced and took new forms. The internal critics of the system were convicted for anti-Soviet agitation or as "social parasites". Others were labeled as mentally ill, having sluggishly progressing schizophrenia and incarcerated in "Psikhushkas", i.e. mental hospitals used by the Soviet authorities as prisons[10]. A few notable dissidents were sent to internal or external exile, as Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Bukovsky, and Andrei Sakharov. Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda (ASA) (Антисоветская агитация и пропаганда (АСА)) was a criminal offence in Soviet Union. ... The Nazi propaganda poster titled New People reads: This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the people 60,000 Reichmarks during his lifetime. ... Sluggishly progressing schizophrenia was a fifth category of schizophrenia diagnosed by psychiatrists in the Soviet Union. ... Psikhushka (психушка) is a colloquialism for psychiatric hospital in Russian language. ... A psychiatric hospital (also called a mental hospital or asylum) is a hospital specializing in the treatment of persons with mental illness. ... Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (Russian: , Aleksandr Isajevič Solženicyn, IPA:  ; born December 11, 1918) is a Russian novelist, dramatist and historian. ... Vladimir Bukovsky early photo Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovsky (Russian: ; b. ... Andrei Sakharov, 1943 Dr. Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov (Russian: , May 21, 1921 – December 14, 1989), was an eminent Soviet nuclear physicist, dissident and human rights activist. ...


Entire nations have been collectively punished by the Soviet Government for alleged collaboration with the enemy during World War II. In legal terms, the word "genocide" may be appropriate because specific ethnic groups were targeted. At least nine of distinct ethnic- linguistic sub-nations, including ethnic Germans, ethnic Greeks, ethnic Poles, Crimean Tatars, Balkars, Chechens, and Kalmyks, have been deported to remote unpopulated areas of Siberia and Kazakhstan and left to die. It is commonly accepted that the ethnicity-targeted population transfers in the Soviet Union led to millions of deaths due to inflicted hardships. Koreans and Romanians were also deported. Mass operations of the NKVD were needed to deport hundreds of thousands of people. Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Nazi Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Harry Truman Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead... Look up Genocide in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The German minority in Russia and the Soviet Union was created from several sources and in several waves. ... The Polish minority in the Soviet Union refers to former Polish citizens or Polish-speaking people who resided in the Soviet Union. ... The Crimean Tatars (Qırımtatar (aka Qırım, Qırımlı and Qırım türkü), Pl. ... The Balkar (малкъар /malqar/balqar) people are a Turkic people of the Caucasus region, the titular population of Kabardino-Balkaria. ... // Geography The Chechen people are mainly inhabitants of Chechnya, which is internationally recognized as part of Russia. ... Categories: Russia-related stubs | Acts of Soviet repression | Forced migration ... Siberian Federal District (darker red) and the broadest definition of Siberia (red) Udachnaya pipe Siberia (Russian: , Sibir; Tatar: ) is a vast region of Russia constituting almost all of Northern Asia. ... Not by Their Own Will. ... Mass operations of the NKVD were carried out during the Great Purge and targeted specific categories of people. ... Deportation is the expelling of someone from a country. ...

The deaths of millions of people in Ukraine during the Holodomor famines of 19321933 was caused intentionally by confiscating all food and blocking the migration of starving population by the Soviet government. The reported number of victims varies up to 10 million, while 5 million is the lowest commonly accepted number [11] This is now officially recognized as genocide by the Ukrainian Parliament. More than a million of people died during other famines in Russia and USSR. Child victim of the Holodomor The Ukrainian famine (1932-1933) or Holodomor was one of the largest national catastrophes of the Ukrainian nation in modern history with direct loss of human life in the range of millions (estimates vary). ... A famine is a social and economic crisis that is commonly accompanied by widespread malnutrition, starvation, epidemic and increased mortality. ... 1932 (MCMXXXII) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link will take you to a full 1932 calendar). ... 1933 (MCMXXXIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... Droughts and famines in Imperial Russia and USSR are known to have happened every 10-13 years, with average droughts happening every 5-7 years. ...

Freedom of expression, literature, and science

Censorship in the Soviet Union was pervasive and strictly enforced [12]. This gave rise to Samizdat, a clandestine copying and distribution of government-suppressed literature. Censorship in the Soviet Union was pervasive and strictly enforced. ... Samizdat, book published by Pathfinder Press containing a collection of forbidden Trotskyist Samizdat texts. ...

Art, literature, education, and science were placed under a strict ideological scrutiny, since they were supposed to serve the interests of the victorious proletariat. Socialist realism is an example of such teleologically-oriented art that promoted socialism and communism. All research had to be founded on the philosophical base of dialectical materialism. All humanities and social sciences were tested for strict accordance with historical materialism. Every large enterprise or institution of the Soviet Union had First Department run by KGB people responsible for secrecy and political security of the workplace. Many prominent writers, artists, and scientists were sent to Gulag. This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ... Old book bindings at the Merton College library. ... Part of a scientific laboratory at the University of Cologne. ... The proletariat (from Latin proles, offspring) is a term used to identify a lower social class; a member of such a class is proletarian. ... Roses for Stalin, Boris Vladimirski, 1949 Socialist realism is a teleologically-oriented style of realistic art which has as its purpose the furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism. ... Socialism refers to a broad array of doctrines or political movements that envisage a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to social control. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... It has been suggested that Marxist philosophy of nature be merged into this article or section. ... Historical materialism is the methodological approach to the study of society, economics and history which was first articulated by Karl Marx (1818-1883), although Marx himself never used the term. ... The First Department (Первый отдел, Pervyj Otdel) was in charge of secrecy and political security of the workplace of every enterprise or institution of the Soviet Union that dealt with any kind of technical or scientific information (plants, R&D institutions... The KGB emblem and motto: The sword and the shield KGB (transliteration of КГБ) is the Russian-language abbreviation for Committee for State Security, (Russian: ; Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti). ... Gulag ( , Russian: ) is an acronym for Главное Управление Исправительно—Трудовых Лагерей и колоний, Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey i kolonii, The Chief Directorate [or Administration] of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies of the NKVD. Anne Applebaum, in her book Gulag: A History, explains: // Literally, the word GULAG is an acronym, meaning Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, or Main Camp...

Workers were not allowed to organize free trade unions. All existing trade unions were organized and controlled by the state[13]. A Trade Union (Labour union) ... is a continuous association of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment. ...

Freedom of religion

The Soviet Union was an officially atheistic state. The stated goal was control, suppression, and, ultimately, the elimination of religious beliefs. Atheism was propagated through schools, communist organizations, and the media. All religious movements were either prosecuted or controlled by the state and KGB. For information about the band, see Atheist (band). ... The KGB emblem and motto: The sword and the shield KGB (transliteration of КГБ) is the Russian-language abbreviation for Committee for State Security, (Russian: ; Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti). ...

Freedom of movement

Emigration and any travel abroad were not allowed without an explicit permission from the government and KGB. People who were not allowed to leave the country are known as "refuseniks". The system of "Propiska" and internal passports restricted movement of citizens within the country. The KGB emblem and motto: The sword and the shield KGB (transliteration of КГБ) is the Russian-language abbreviation for Committee for State Security, (Russian: ; Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti). ... Refusenik (Hebrew: , transliterated: mesorav; or: אסיר ציון, transliterated: asir tzion, literally means: Prisoner of Zion) or Otkaznik (Russian: , from отказ, English equivalent: refusal, rejection) was an unofficial term for individuals, typically but not exclusively Soviet Jews, who were denied permission to emigrate abroad by the authorities of the former Soviet Union. ... Propiska (Russian: пропи́ска; the full term is Прописка по месту жительства, The record of place of residence) was a regulation in the Soviet Union designed to control internal population movement by binding a person to his or her permanent place of residence. ...


  1. ^ Constitution of the Soviet Union. Preamble
  2. ^ Ponton, G. (1994) The Soviet Era.
  3. ^ Tsaplin, V.V. (1989) Statistika zherty naseleniya v 30e gody.
  4. ^ Nove, Alec. Victims of Stalinism: How Many?, in Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives (edited by J. Arch Getty and Roberta T. Manning), Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-521-44670-8.
  5. ^ Bibliography: Courtois et al. The Black Book of Communism
  6. ^ Davies, Norman. Europe: A History, Harper Perennial, 1998. ISBN 0-06-097468-0.
  7. ^ Bibliography: Rummel.
  8. ^ Koehler, John O. Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police. Westview Press. 2000. ISBN 0-8133-3744-5
  9. ^ Fragments from Tambov rebellion by B.V. Sennikov (Russian)
  10. ^ The Soviet Case: Prelude to a Global Consensus on Psychiatry and Human Rights. Human Rights Watch. 2005
  11. ^ Bibliography: Conquest. The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine.
  12. ^ A Country Study: Soviet Union (Former). Chapter 9 - Mass Media and the Arts. The Library of Congress. Country Studies
  13. ^ A Country Study: Soviet Union (Former). Chapter 5. Trade Unions. The Library of Congress. Country Studies. 2005.


  • Applebaum, Anne (2003) Gulag: A History. Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-0056-1
  • Conquest, Robert (1991) The Great Terror: A Reassessment. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-507132-8.
  • Conquest, Robert (1986) The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505180-7.
  • Courtois, Stephane; Werth, Nicolas; Panne, Jean-Louis; Paczkowski, Andrzej; Bartosek, Karel; Margolin, Jean-Louis & Kramer, Mark (1999). The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-07608-7.
  • Khlevniuk, Oleg & Kozlov, Vladimir (2004) The History of the Gulag : From Collectivization to the Great Terror (Annals of Communism Series) Yale University Pres. ISBN 0-300-09284-9.
  • Pipes, Richard (2001) Communism Weidenfled and Nicoloson. ISBN 0-297-64688-5
  • Pipes, Richard (1994) Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. Vintage. ISBN 0-679-76184-5.
  • Rummel, R.J. (1996) Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1917. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 1-56000-887-3.
  • Yakovlev, Alexander (2004). A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10322-0.

The Great Terror: A Reassessment by Robert Conquest The Great Terror is the title of a book by British writer Robert Conquest, published in 1968. ... The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression is a controversial book edited by doctor Stéphane Courtois which attempts to catalog various crimes (deaths, torture, deportations, etc. ... The Harvard University Press is a publishing house, a division of Harvard University, that is highly respected in academic publishing. ...

External links

The Palace of Europe in Strasbourg The Council of Europe is an international organisation of 46 member states in the European region. ...

See also

Russias human rights record remains uneven and has worsened in some areas since the 1990s. ... Joseph Stalin. ...

For other articles on the topic see:

  • Category:Soviet repressions
  • Category:Political repression in the Soviet Union
  • Category:Acts of Soviet repression
  • Category:Victims of Soviet repressions
  • Category:Soviet executions
  • Category:Gulag
  • Category:Forced migration in the Soviet Union
  • Category:Soviet and Russian intelligence agencies
  • Category:Law enforcement in the Soviet Union
  • Category:NKVD
  • Category:Soviet phraseology
  • Category:Rebellions in Russia
  • Category:Moscow Helsinki Watch Group
  • Category:Soviet dissidents
  • Category:Sharashka inmates
  • Category:Exonerated Soviet death sentences
  • Category:Prisons in Russia



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