Ex-KGB Officer Admits That 1917 Bolshevik Revolution Was Kind Of Bad

I never thought I’d read the following from a former KGB officer. Leonid Reshetnikov, a former member of the SVR (Sluzhba vnezhnei razvedki, or Foreign Intelligence Service, which is the successor to the KGB arm that conducted foreign operations) and current director of a pro-Kremlin think tank called the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, gave a long interview to the website Svobodnaya Pressa. A lot of people focused on him calling Obama an “American Gorbachev” (and for the record, it was not meant in a flattering way–though people in the West seem to like Gorbachev, Russians hold the exact opposite view). However, if you listen to the entire interview, all the really good stuff comes at the end. For example:*

I’m a supporter of the idea that Russia’s mission is to go along its own civilizational path. It was on such a journey until 1917. This was our path. We only knew it from textbooks that were written under the control of the Central Committee of the Communist Party or the Bolsheviks. This is the most falsified history in the world. We had problems that would have been difficult to solve, but we also had great achievements. People don’t think about how such an ignorant, poor, crushed country could have given birth to so many writers, poets, artists, engineers, scholars… how it [Russia] could have expanded from the Grand Duchy of Muscovy to an empire that stretched from Warsaw to Kamchatka. Our rivals’ goal was to crush this civilization. But they successfully accomplished this, in considerable part through our own hands. Basically, we cooked our own goose.

Pretty amazing, right? I never thought I’d see someone who was part of the Communist state apparatus criticizing the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Remember, for decades people celebrated this revolution in the Soviet Union. To have someone speak negatively of it is nothing short of fascinating.

*Note: the original Russian is as follows:

Я сторонник того, что миссия России – это идти своим цивилизационным путем. Она шла таким путем до 1917 года. Это был наш путь. Мы его знаем только из учебников, написанных под контролем ЦК КПСС или ВКП(б). Это самая оболганная история в мире. У нас были проблемы, которые трудно решались, но у нас были и огромные успехи. Люди не задумываются, как такая дремучая, бедная, задавленная страна могла родить столько писателей, поэтов, художников, инженеров, ученых… Как она могла расшириться от Московского Княжества, от Варшавы до Камчатки. Задача конкурентов была уничтожить эту цивилизацию. Но успешно они ее выполнили, в значительной части, нашими же руками. Сами мы ее и угробили.

I’m also not sure if I translated the last sentence correctly.

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Natalie K.

Banker. I like good things like foreign languages (I speak Russian!), history, writing, reading, playing violin, and knitting. I have a fabulous blog about all of the above.