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Beria's intrigues

 

Zhdanov,  Stalin's probable successor, died in August 1948. Even before his death, a woman doctor, Lydia Timashuk,  accused Stalin's doctors of having applied an inappropriate treatment to accelerate his death. She would repeat these accusations later on.

During the year 1949, almost all of Zhdanov's  entourage was arrested and executed. Kuznetsov,  Secretary of the Central Committee and Zhdanov's  right hand man; Rodionov,  Prime Minister of the Russian Republic; and Voznesensky,  President of the Plan, were the main victims. They were among the most influential new cadres. Khrushchev  claims that their elimination was due to Beria's  intrigues.

Stalin had criticized some of Voznesensky's  theories, according to which the law of value should be used to determine the distribution of capital and labor among the different sectors. In that case, replied Stalin, capital and labor forces would migrate to light industry, which is more profitable, and hinder heavy industry:

`(T)he sphere of operation of the law of value is severely restricted and strictly delimited in our economic system (by) ... the law of planned (balanced) development of the national economy'.

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Stalin, `Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.', The Documentary Record of the 19th Communist Party Congress and the Reorganization After Stalin's Death (New York: Frederick A. Praeger), p. 5.

However, in his text, Stalin refuted these opportunist points of view without treating their authors as traitors. According to Khrushchev,  Stalin intervened several times for Voznesensky's  liberation and appointment as head of the State Bank.

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Khrushchev,  Khrushchev  Remembers, op. cit. , p.`251.

As for Timashuk's  accusations against Zhdanov's  doctors, Stalin's daughter, Svetlana,  recalled that her father, at first, `did not believe the doctors were `dishonest' '.

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S. Alliluyeva, p. 215; cited in Bland,  op. cit. , p. 4.

Abakumov,  Minister of State Security, close to Beria,  was then leading the inquiry. But in the end of 1951, Ignatiev,  a Party man with no experience in security, replaced Abakumov,  who was arrested for lack of vigilance. Had Abakumov  protected his boss, Beria? 

The inquiry was then led by Ryumin,  the man formerly responsible for Security in Stalin's personal secretariat. Nine doctors were arrested, accused of being `connected with the international Jewish bourgeois nationalist organisation `JOINT' (American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee), established by American intelligence'.

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Pravda, 13 January 1953, p. 4; cited in Bland,  op. cit. , p. 18.

This affair was understood as Stalin's first attack against Beria.  The second attack took place simultaneously. In November 1951, leaders of the Communist Party of Georgia were arrested for redirecting public funds and for theft of State property and were accused of being bourgeois nationalist forces with links to Anglo-American imperialism. In the ensuing purge, more than half of the Central Committee members, known as Beria's  men, lost their position.

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J. Ducoli,  `The Georgian Purges (1951--1953)', Caucasian Review, vol. 6, pp. 55, 1958; cited in Bland,  op. cit. , p. 11--13.

The new First Secretary stated in his report that the purge was undertaken `upon Comrade Stalin's personal instructions'.

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A. Mgdelaze,  Report to Congress of Georgian Communist Party, Sept. 1952; cited in Bland,  op. cit. , p. 24.



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Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995