Leningrad Affair

Leningrad Affair

The Leningrad Affair, or Leningrad case ("Ленинградское дело" in Russian, or Leningradskoye delo), was a series of "criminal" cases fabricated in the late 1940s–early 1950s in order to accuse a number of prominent members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of "treason" and "intention" to create an anti-Soviet organization out of the Leningrad Party cell. [Dmitri Volkogonov, "Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy", 1996, ISBN 0761507183]

In January 1949 Pyotr Popkov, Aleksei Kuznetsov and Nikolai Voznesensky organized a Leningrad Trade Fair to boost the post-war economy and support the survivors of the Siege of Leningrad with goods and services from all over the Soviet Union. Joseph Stalin became paranoid about the rise of his competitors, so Stalin's army of lawyers and politicians fabricated a series of accusations to destroy them. [Edvard Radzinsky, "Stalin: The First In-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives", 1997, ISBN 0385479549]

The Leningrad Trade Fair of 1949 was attacked by the Soviet official propaganda as part of a series of well-prepared attacks [ [http://www.akhmatova.org/articles/kostyrchenko.htm Malenkov against Zhdanov. Games of Stalin's favorites.] ru icon] , and was falsely portrayed as a scheme to use the federal budget from Moscow for business developments in Leningrad. Although the budget and economics of such a trade fair were normal and legitimate with full approval of the State Planning and the Government of the USSR, the aging Stalin maintained his rigid and restrictive dictatorship which did not allow any economic or political competition. [ [http://www.contr-tv.ru/print/1608/ The "Leningrad Affair"] ru icon]

As a result, in 1950, Nikolai Voznesensky, Mikhail Rodionov, Aleksei Kuznetsov, Pyotr Popkov, Ya. F. Kapustin and P. G. Lazutin [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/leningrad_betrayal_04.shtml "Stalin and the Betrayal of Leningrad" by John Barber] ] were sentenced to death on false accusations of embezzlement of the Soviet State budget for "unapproved business in Leningrad", which was labeled as anti-Soviet treason. They were swiftly killed by gunshots to their heads, for which measure Stalin's communist government reinstated the death penalty in the Soviet Union. The rest of the "accomplices" were sentenced to different prison terms. About 2,000 of Leningrad's most valuable figures were removed from leadership positions and over 200 of them were repressed, together with their relatives. Respected intellectuals, scientists, writers and educators, many of whom were pillars of the city's community, were exiled or imprisoned, and eventually exterminated in the Gulag prison camps. Hard repressions were imposed also on top intellectuals, such as Nikolai Punin, who expressed his dislike of the Soviet propaganda and thousands of Lenin's portraits. ["The Diaries of Nikolay Punin: 1904-1953". University of Texas Press (1999) ISBN 0292765894]

Simultaneously, the Soviet authorities replaced all communist party and administrative leadership in Leningrad by transplanting thousands of communists loyal to Stalin.

It has been speculated that the motivation behind the cases was Stalin's fear of competition from the younger and popular Leningrad leaders - who had been fêted as heroes following the city's siege. Stalin's paranoia was combined with his deep distrust of anyone from St. Petersburg/Leningrad from the time of Stalin's involvement in the Russian Revolution, Russian Civil War, execution of Zinoviev and the Right Opposition. [ [http://www.krugosvet.ru/articles/97/1009726/1009726a1.htm "The Affair of Leningrad Centre..."] , from Russian Encyclopedia Krugosvet ru icon]

All of the accused and executed were later rehabilitated during the Khrushchev Thaw, many of them . [William Taubman, "Khrushchev: The Man and His Era", London: Free Press, 2004]


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