Communist Russia: Control of the People

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What decree was passed in November 1917? And why?
Lenin banned all non-socialist newspapers, as he deemed them as mouthpieces of the bourgeoise
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What happened to the printing press, and who were the censored by?
Printing press was nationalised, and all editors and journalists were employed officially by the government. The Glavit approved every article and censored them
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What was the Pravda newspaper?
The newspaper of the communist party, meaning 'truth'
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What was the Izvestiya?
The paper of the government, meaning 'news'
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How were newspapers made widely available?
They were cheap to buy and copies were often posted on boards in workplaces which led to high readership
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What were common themes of newspapers during Stalin's rule?
Socialist achievements, successful production figures and expeditions to places like the Arctic, explorers were presented as heroes flying over to the North Pole
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What were prohibited subjects of newspapers?
Natural disasters, planes crashes and unsuccessful production figures
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Give two examples of natural disasters in the USSR that were not published to the public
1972, fire outside central Moscow was unreported. Additionally, 1957 Kyshtym disaster was ignored meaning radiation had effected almost 300,000 people. The area was not fully evacuated for another two years.
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What arose during the 1970s?
Local party newspapers presented criticisms about poor housing and party bureaucrats
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Who were targets of Soviet magazines?
Groups of workers, farmers, soldiers, young children, those with a specific hobby
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What were some banned topics of magazines?
Pornography, sex, crime and religion
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How was the gap for Soviet sport coverage filled?
Red Sport, in 1924 and Sovetskii sport after 1946 gave accurate sport coverage to the nation as long as they praised the government on the front page
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How did the Bolsheviks easily manipulate radio?
It was a new development
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When was spoken radio created, what was a name of a programme and what did it entail?
Soviet scientists adapted this is 1921, and created the 'Spoken Newspaper of the Russian Telegraph Agency', it was used as a propaganda tool
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How was radio widely distributed?
Loudspeakers were set up in workplaces and public areas, this encouraged collective listening so everyone heard the same message
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What was control of radio centralised to?
The Commissariat of Posts and Telegraph
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Why was the radio a perfect mechanism for propaganda?
65% of the population were illiterate
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How did Stalin make listening to the radio more interesting?
Breaks of classical music were provided
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How was the radio effective in WW2?
The speed at which speeches could be broadcast was impressive in distilling morale and alerting cities of nearby invasion
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What were Brezhnev's new reforms to radio?
He increased the number of stations to three, including a music station with foreign songs which attracted Soviet youth
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What problems were faced by Brezhnev with radio?
People were beginning to want to access foreign stations like BBC and Voice of America
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What is the evidence that television was becoming more popular?
In 1950, the USSR had 10,000 tv sets but by 1958 this number had rose to 3 million. Mass production in the 1960's meant that they were cheap and by the 1980's most of the rural population had access to television
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What did the general tv programmes consist of?
News, documentaries, socialist achievement films, children's programmes.
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How was the process of censorship faulty?
If someone didn't appear in the press, it was known to the Soviets that they had probably been shot. Beria's arrest and execution was only known to Soviet citizens when they asked everyone to remove his pages from the Soviet Encylopedia
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How did the rise of technology help and hinder Communist control?
It provided a distraction from the harsh socialist reality, however it increased the amount of opposition to government
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Why was a cult of personality used by leaders of the USSR?
It keeps a sense of morale, it creates loyalty, it reinforced their power, it detaches the leaders from the Politburo so they can evade failures of the USSR
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Why would Lenin be furious about what happened after he died?
After he died many thousands went to see his embalmed body, this was creating a cult of Lenin
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Which town was named Stalingrad through Stalin's cult of personality?
Tsaritsyn
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What phrase was popularly used after Lenin's death?
"Stalin is the Lenin of today"
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How did different paintings portray Stalin differently?
They portrayed him as an all-present and all-knowing leader, images of Stalin with successes of the Five Year Plans implied he was an industrial revolutionary, pictures of Stalin with children reinforced he was a father-figure
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How did paintings of Stalin change during WW2?
Posters of Stalin in military uniform, with workers and peasants were created which made him seem one with the everyday Soviet
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How were Stalin's biographies changed?
His official biographies were hagiography, it praised Stalin and portrayed his childhood as great- in comparison he used to call his mum an 'old whore'
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How did statues and cinema praise Stalin?
Statues made him seem taller than he actually was, and films presented him as a war hero with such films as 'The Fall of Berlin'
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How was Stalin's cult of personality successful?
After WW2, many saw Stalin as the saviour of Russia and socialism, people had heart attacks after Khrushchev's de-Stalinisation speech, prisoners of the Gulag even cried after Stalin's death
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How was Stalin's cult of personality unsuccessful?
He was unrecognisable to Soviet citizens, and many saw his cult as an over-exaggeration and perhaps he was compensating for something
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How was Nikita Khrushchev's cult of personality made?
He heavily criticised Stalin in his secret speech, and many people supported this. He visited peasants on collectives to boast his agricultural aims, he used media to try to be portrayed as a successful leader
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How did Khrushchev's cult of personality fail?
He grew desperate when his schemes failed and this was reflected in more campaigns for his brilliance, by associating himself with the Virgin Lands Scheme- the failure of this meant it decreased his power. The inevitable failure was his dismissal.
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Why was the cult of Brezhnev needed?
He lacked authority, so his cult of personality helped him seem powerful, it implied he was a man of the people and a military hero (even though he had little power in the army)
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How did people mock Brezhnev?
They often joked about his claims to greatness, Brezhnev challenged this by saying "If the people laugh at me, they must like me"
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What were the advantages of a cult of personality for the party?
It was useful to have one person as a focus for unity, it provided a human face for socialism, the population could identify with them, because of the absence of religion a leader would be represented as God-like
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What is the history of the Russian Orthodox Church?
It has close associations to the Tsarist regime, the Tsar appointed priests and therefore they supported the government, it owned much of the land in the countryside therefore controlled the peasants
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What did the Bolsheviks think of religion?
It provided an alternate ideology from Marxism, and focused on the individual's right rather than the collective. Lenin held a hatred for religion which set the tone for the Bolsheviks too, The ROC was a threat to socialist order
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Why was religion hard to abolish?
It was heavily ingrained into the lives of the Soviet population, especially with those that suffered from hardship. Tsarists held a certain passion to the churches' connection to the old regime
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What did the phrase 'opium of the masses' refer to?
Karl Marx believed religion was a tool used by the upper class to control the population. He believed it gave people a false sense of happiness to distract them from their feelings. And that true happiness would be found without religion
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What decree was passed in 1918 and what were it's consequences?
The Decree on Freedom of Conscience, the church lost all it's privileges and external religious education was banned. A large number were destroyed and by the end of 1918 the head of the church was arrested
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How were churches treated during the civil war?
They were ransacked for goods and valuables to barter for food, and priests were denied rations
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How was religion targeted in the Red Terror 1921-22?
Priests suffered as victims of this, 28 bishops and 1000 priests were shot
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How were religious rituals stamped out?
Baptisms were replaced with 'Octoberings' signifying the revolutinary spirit of children, religious names were ablosihed and replaced with Nenil (Lenin backwards) and Revolyutsiya
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What was the long term (within 10 years) affect of these harsh changes to religion?
By 1930, 4/5 of village churches were closed/destroyed, by the mid-1920s 55% of the peasantry were still active Christians
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What did a campaign against religion accompany in 1927?
Stalin's calls for collectivisation
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During collectivisation, how were churches attacked?
Priests were labelled kulaks and transported to Gulags, and more churches were destroyed and closed down
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How were churches effected during the Great Purge? (1936-39)
Further violent attacks reduced the influence of religion- only 7% of bishops were still at liberty
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How was religion treated during WW2?
The church supported the war effort so a connection was seen by party officials, Christians were urged to fight, 414 churches re-opened and priests were trained again. This was to drive morale during the harsh policies during the war
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Who were the League of Militant Godless and what did they do?
They were launched to disprove the existence of God, peasants were taken on plane rides to show them there was no heaven,
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What were Khrushchev's ideas about religion?
He reintroduced the harsh policies reflecting the campaign in the 1920s, he was seen as more hardline than Stalin had been (especially during WW2)
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How did Khrushchev limit priests and churches?
He limited the role of a priest to solely a spiritual leader, parish councils were centralised and party officials dismissed priests illegally, 10000 churches were closed down within four years, anti-religious propaganda was brought back
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How did Khrushchev undermine religion through the media and his campiagns
He published a book names 'Science and Religion' that undermined the existence of religion. The Space Race also helped this, the astronaut 'Yuri Gagarin' said there was no heaven
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Why did Brezhnev relax on religion?
He realised that attacks on churches didn't sit well in the West and foreign countries, and effect foreign policy- so Brezhnev let churches act within limits
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How did active persecution decline?
Church closures stopped and so did anti-religious propaganda, churches were allowed to act under control of the Council of Religious Affairs
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In what way did Brezhnev continue restricting religion?
He encouraged philosophy of atheism , which was taught at Institutes of Scientific Atheism, in 1976 a faction of priests formed but Brezhnev had them imprisoned
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What percentage of people believed in God by the 1980s?
25%
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Why did the Bolsheviks fear Islam?
The central Asian regions of Russia were mostly Muslim so they took up alot of the area, their religion was very deeply ingrained into their everyday life, Muslims threateWHned the social cohesion of the state
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What was a mullah?
a term commonly used for Islamic clerics and mosque leaders
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What were early attempts by the Bolsheviks to eradicate Islam?
They tried to reduce the influence of the sharia law and mullahs in the Muslim community
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When did the Communist attack on Islam really occur?
The mid-1920s
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What attacks were made to reduce the influence of Islam?
No money for them to tend land, closing down mosques, mullahs removed during collectivisation, in 1927 Muslim women unveiled, ramadan was abolished as it effected work productivity, polygamy was prohibited
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How was the suppression of Islam countered?
Some retaliated through protest only to be be silenced by the Red Army, many practiced in private or joined underground Muslim communities called 'tariqats'
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Who was the head of the secret police in 1917 and what was the name of the organisation?
Felix Dzerzhinksy, the Cheka
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What was the role of the Cheka?
To act against counter-revolutionaries
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What were the tasks of the Cheka during the Russian Civil War?
Helped with requisition of grain and the banning on private trade, they executed socialist opposition, they were allowed to act without the influence of the government
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What triggered a wave of arrests in 1918?
The attempted assassination of Lenin by Fanya Kaplin
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Who was targeted during Red Terror and how many died?
Heavily on Mensheviks, SR's and priests- 200,000 were killed
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Why was the Cheka reorganised after the Civil war and what was the new name?
They had grown too separate from the law and needed to take orders from the communist party once again, the GPU
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What was the new police system in 1934 and what was the reason for the change?
The NKVD, Stalin's rapid industrialisation saw a huge wave of new opposition and new more ruthless group of men needed to supervise this. They began to run Gulag's for free labour throughout the process
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Who was appointed as head of the NKVD in 1934 and what did he do?
Yagoda, he expanded the Gulag population drastically, he encouraged Stalin to disallow interference with courts, he supervised the White Sea Canal project implying his use of Gulag prisoners to remote areas, he set up the Trial of the 16
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Why did Yagoda fail Stalin?
Stalin was continually disappointed in the lack of enthusiasm from Yagoda, and blamed him for the slow pace of terror. He needed someone to be more vicious and take advantage of the death of Kirov to remove political oppoisiton
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What was Stalin's doctrine on class struggle proposing?
Stalin argued as socialism advanced there'd be more opposition from capitalists and the intensification of class struggle. A rigid process of execution was needed to suppress them
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Who was appointed leader of the NKVD in 1936?
Yezhov
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What were Yezhov's main reforms to terror?
He issued more arrests and executions to meet Stalin's death targets, he increased opposition to anyone who disagreed with communism, he increased the Gulag population, he was involved in the trail of the 17 and 21, he increased surveillance
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Why was there a sense on injustice and irony in the great terror under Yezhov?
Police officers to killed to meet quotas received medals, only to kill themselves months later, new NKVD recruits didn't have loyalty to the party or communism- they only wanted the new found power
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What was the 'conveyor belt system'?
Yezhov ordered shifts for police officiers during trials and for general surveillance so terror could never be stopped and the NKVD always knew of illegal acitvity
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How many people were killed during Yezhovchina?
1.5 million- 10% of the male population of Russia were arrested!
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What was the result of Yezhovchina in Moscow and Leningrad
It resulted in ghost-towns in government, many party officials were purged
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How did this sense of unrest spread to regional level?
Local workers began dismissing their managers, somewhat violently, and holding their own show trials
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Why was Yezhov dismissed in 1938?
Stalin began to become concerned with the rapid rate or murder and the demoralising effect it had on the population with the looming German invasion. Yezhov's health was rapidly declining (due to his heavy work and drinking)- he was a scapegoat
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What year was Yezhov shot?
1940
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Who was appointed head of secret police in 1938?
Beria
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In what way did Beria relieve the Soviet population?
He stopped random arrests unless people had strong evidence, and he did the same to public trials
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How did Beria reform the Gulag system?
He provided increased rations for prisoners to improve work incentive, 1000 scientists helped political experts in the Gulags to create new military weapons, early releases were cancelled, in 1940 4.5 billion roubles were generated from the Gulags
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How did Beria's control change during WW2?
Beria ordered the mass deportation of foreign minorities for being traitors, 460000 Chechens were deported, additionally in 1943 Beria set up special departments in captured lands to route out German allies, SMERSH handled spies, Gulags used
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When and what were the events of the Leningrad affair?
1949, saw a purge of 2000 members of the Leningrad party under Stalin's wishes, Beria was quick to fulfil them
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What event highlighted Stalin's growing hatred for Beria?
The Mingrelian Affair of 1951 saw a major purge of the party in Georgia, where Beria was from- perhaps Stalin was trying to send a message to him?
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What was the last purge that didn't carry through due to Stalin's death?
The Doctor's Plot, was a plot against doctors for assassinating Stalin- most of them were Jewish however
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Why was the Politburo so quick to denounce Beria?
He had major control of the Gulags, Secret Police and the network of Soviet Spies around the world
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What was the police system renamed in 1954?
KGB
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Who took over as the head of the secret police in 1967?
Yuri Andrpov
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Who were the three main groups of dissidents?
Nationalities, Intellectuals and Political Dissidents
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How were intellectuals labelled dissidents?
They had developed different ways of thinking and were threats to communist ideology
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Who were political dissidents?
They tried to hold the government accountable for its own laws. They wanted the government to abide to the laws in the Helsinki Agreement and staged protest when they didn't
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How were nationalities labelled dissidents?
Baltic states wanted independence, especially in Ukraine and Lithuania. The CP arrested 20 leading foreign dissidents to deter future dissent
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How were religious people labelled dissidents?
They faced restrictions on worship and were prominent in the Baltic states
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Who were refuseniks and how were they treated?
They were Soviet Jews that wanted to emigrate to Israel, this was backed by the US which caused trouble with the foreign policy
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What was the 'samizdat'?
Handwritten newspapers with poems, promoting their opinion of basic human rights in Russia
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How were dissidents treated before 1960?
Surveillance, removed from respected fields, houses could be searched, face discrimination in the workplace
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What new law was brought in in 1960?
Limited night-time interrogations and restricted the power of the KGB
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In 1966 what other law was passed against dissidents?
They had to be tried infront of a court
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In 1967 where were dissidents sent? What was the effect of this?
To psychiatric hospitals to re-educate them, this meant their views were disregarded and they were removed from society and drugged. Bukovsky was sent to one
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How did dissidence effect the USSR's relation with the West?
Records of court cases were smuggled to the West to show how they were violating the Helsinki agreement, international condemnation often led to the release of popular dissidnets
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Did dissidents have popularity within the USSR? How is this shown?
No, dissidents often tried to protest or revolt however they had little support because the secret police had triggered control and fear in the opposition
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Who was Solzhenitysn? What happened to him?
He was a writer of literature, he wrote books that criticised the Soviet system, he was continually sent to Gulag's and prisons. In 1970 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in the West, he was exiled there in 1973
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Who was Yakir? What happened to him?
In 1969 he published a letter criticising Stalin, he was tortured until he confessed and the KGB let him go
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Who was Sharansky? What happened to him?
Founder of the Jewish movement, he defended the refusenicks, he was sentenced to Gulag labour in 1968 he was allowed to emigrate to Israel
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Who was Sakharov? What happened to him?
He worked in nuclear science, and wrote "Reflections on Progress" which was sent to the West through smazidat, the KGB were reluctant to persecute him because of his popularity with the West. In 1975, he was exiled to Gorky
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How was repressive psychiatry used?
The government saw 'Anti-Soviet behaviour' as 'paranoid reformist delusion'. Psychiatric records were private from Western journalists and they would be prescribed medication
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How did methods against treating discontent change after 1982?
Phone bugging, higher surveillance, followed by the KGB, Andropov met workers in factories to hear their complaints, younger members with less of a generation gap from society were appointed to the Politburo
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What were the aims of Soviet Culture?
To embed values of the Communist regime, to create an idealistic 'Soviet man', to move away from old bourgeois culture
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What did Lenin create in 1917? Why?
The Commissariat of Enlightenment encouraged artists (not necessarily who believed in communism) to create art, this was greatly received by the 'Fellow Travels', as it was a life on old restrictions
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Who promoted the Prolekult?
Bogdanov, Lenin and The Bolshevik party
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Why did Bogdanov want to create a prolekult?
He believed that the proletariat should promote their own culture. which promoted collectivism, it was to serve a social and political purpose
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Who were constructivists?
Those who wanted to create a culture based around the worker and industy
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What as 'Smithy'?
A magazine made up of poems and art from workers that was circulated to spread the prolekult
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What other methods were used to create a prolekult?
Festivals were made, serving food to attract audiences- peasants were also encouraged to put on theatrical productions
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Why did the government begin to restrict the prolekult?
It threatened high culture (ballet, opera and fine art) which party officials enjoyed
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What was avant-garde? And what influenced it?
Art that was abstract and less real, it was inspired by modernism and futurism
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Why did the Bolsheviks put so much focus on visual posters/propaganda?
It was easy to access and great for a highly illiterate population
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Who was a leading avant-garde artist and what did he specialise in?
Mayakovsky, he created many posters and slogans for Lenin
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Why was avant-garde a failure? What made this evident?
It was too confusing for the Soviet population to understand, avant-garde plays were commissioned but most of them were cancelled because directors didn't understand the content themselves
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Why was a cultural revolution needed and who was involved in the attacks?
Stalin saw it a necessity to get ride of old bourgeoise culture and replace it with a socialist one. The Komsomol carried out attacks for him
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What was the role of the RAPP?
They made attacks on 'Fellow Travellers' and promoted the 'cult of the little man'
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Who replaced the RAPP in 1932?
The Union of Soviet Writers
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What was socialist realism?
It was a form of art that presented idealised images of socialist life to inspire the population of it's achievement, it acted as a coping mechanism for those facing the bleak life under Stalin
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How did some 'Fellow Traveller' artists react?
Many took the 'genre of silence' (didn't produce any art) , some like Mayakovsky committed suicide
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How was Socialist realism seem in art?
Images and paintings were commissioned of the 5YPs and glorified Stalin for their success
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How was Socialist realism seem in literature?
Books focused on heroes of the party. 'Lowbrow' literature concerned socialists and capitalists battling it out (police and the criminal). These were plentiful as they were cheap and the government controlled the printing press
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How was Socialist realism seem in music?
Stalin was often disgruntled by the sexual undertones of jazz music and promoted military music as a favourite of the government. The saxophone was banned in the 1940s
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How was Socialist realism seem in architecture?
The style known as 'Stalinist baroque' was favoured due to it's use of classical lines which reflected the order and success of Russia. Examples of this are the Moscow Metro and University
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How was Socialist realism seem in cinema?
'October' was a film about the revolution of 1917, it presented it as a mass movement, many people died in filming due to the sue of live ammunition! During WW2, cinema was used to boost morale and revolutionary thought
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How did Khrushchev change culture in the USSR?
His methods of de-stalinisation meant that he allowed banned art, music and literature (that highlighted the awful life under Stalin)
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Who were the 'stilyagi'?
A group of youths interested in Western music banned under Stalin but in 1955 foreign radio stations could be listened to
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What was the noticeable change with music?
Guitar poets were created, they produced their own work uncensored by the government, they often spoke to the socially-alientated, they performed in underground bars and their music was spread by tape recorder
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What book, however, was banned by Khrushchev and why?
Doctor Zhivago, as it criticised the October revolution the book was smuggled into the West and the author received the nobel prize for literature in 1958
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How were the Komsomol used to suppress Western culture?
They patrolled streets looking for Western 'parties' listening to jazz and dancing provocatively
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What section of art did Khrushchev hate? How is this evident?
Avant-garde art, he visited the Kremlin and said "a donkey could've painted better with his tail"
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What were Brezhnev's attitude towards culture?
He restricted the freedom of artists under Khrushchev but didn't bring back socialist realism. Artists liked the classification of what was allowed and what was not
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What were the focus and restrictions on art? Why?
It was about socialist achievement and due to the gerontocracy and conservative stress- sexual themes remained unexplored and banned
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How did popular music effect the youth and the government?
Young people in Russia liked to listen to jazz music and guitar poets (who sang about sex) and the gerontocracy couldn't understand this- as there was a huge generation gap
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Who was Joseph Brodsky? What happened to him?
He was a poet, that wasn't signed under the Writer's Union. In 1964 he was arrested and sentenced to 5 years Gulag labour for this poetry. His trial records were smuggled to the West and the petitioned for his release, which he got after two years
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What happened to Sinyavsky and Daniel? 1966
Their novels depicting bleak and harsh soviet life were banned and they were sentenced to be sent into Gulag's. Students and Intellectuals from Sinyavsky's university protested- the threat of dissidents meant the government didn't accept their offer.
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How did Brodsky, Sinyavsky and Daniel help the government's control?
They showed future anti-communist artists that their actions would not be tolerated and emphasised that the strict regime of Stalin was still prominent during Khrushchev's rule
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