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Publisher Description

Unprotected by law, the civil rights of groups and individuals in 1920s Soviet Russia were at the mercy of tides of repression, whether those emanated from central campaigns or from local forces. In the personalistic order created by the Bolsheviks one of the most important avenues of redress against rights abuses, especially as concerned heterodox intellectuals, was intercession by regime oligarchs (Old Bolsheviks). (1) For this to occur, entree to such figures was needed. However, another factor that permitted efficacy of intervention was the continuing existence of relatively autonomous spheres of power--administrative fiefdoms--and of independent political authority, in the absence of a dictatorship by a single supreme leader. Such conditions perdured in the Soviet Union roughly until the 15th Party Congress but arguably had already become largely inoperative by mid-1926 with Politburo member Lev Kamenev's fall from power and especially the death of United State Political Directorate (OGPU) chair Feliks Dzerzhinskii. Although it is true that Commissar of Enlightenment Anatolii Lunacharskii was able to protect people until early 1929 and Commissar of Heavy Industry Sergo Ordzhonikidze did so until the mid-1930s, their power of patronage was based on borrowed time. (2) The Gerd Case, as it was labeled in Dzerzhinskii's files, is a revealing exhibit of the complicated 1920s politics of repression and intervention. For one thing, it demonstrates just how vulnerable was the broad intellectual life under the New Economic Policy (NEP) and how widespread, especially among local and provincial party elites, were illiberal views and prejudices. (3) It illustrates how these illiberal currents collaborated on the local level in the selection of specific targets for persecution. For another, it underscores the degree to which the security of individual members of the old intelligentsia was dependent on intercessors from among the Old Bolshevik oligarchy, whose salvatory power was limited both by political contingency and by their own understandings of the requirements of regime loyalty (as opposed to the claims of "justice").

September 22
Slavica Publishers, Inc.
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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