Title The Right of Asylums in the Soviet Union
Publisher(s) Julliard
Publication 1977
Author E. Antébi
Translation Italian version : Editoriale Nuova
Preface Eugène Ionesco
Dustjacket Tim

My first intention was to make a film for French television on dissidents who had been sent to mental hospitals, at the first sign of their opposition to the regime. I was in London, doing an interview with Victor Fainberg and Marina Voikhonskaya, when the shooting was interrupted and the film banned: with Soviet President Leonid Breshnev visiting France, it was not convenient to shock the Soviet embassy!


The publication by Solzhenitsyn of the Gulag Archipelago had, at the time, stunned the West. One could no longer remain deaf to the ear-splitting echo of this kind of bombshell. It had gone past the time of throwing tomatoes and hurling insults and derision at Kashshenko, author of « I Have Chosen Freedom », or at David Rousset, the well known Resistance fighter, who, just after the Second World War, had denounced the Soviet concentration camps. Nor was it the time to talk against the writer André Gide after his Journey to the Soviet Union.

I have already written how, at the International Congress at Krakow in 1976 on the circulation of information - after Helsinki and preparing for Belgrade- I me Klaus von Bismarck, then President of Channel 2 of the German Broadcast, and Uglov, from the Novosti Agency, and how the plot came to a head with my visit to the mental hospital in Moscow where Kashchenko worked, and my interviews with not only the victims but also the torturers. I had prepared for this with a visit to Professor Mark G. Field, from the Department of Sociology at Boston University, who gave me an introductory letter, presenting me as one of his students. In the meantime, I also met one of the great dissidents, (son of a Resistance fighter), Nikita Krivochéine, who subsequently became a friend, a guide, and an advisor.

Nikita and his father Igor (left) and with Prince Volkhonski, composer(right) .

Nikita and Igor Krivocheine had helped me tremendously to meet people and to find original documents. But the list of people who provided ammunition is long: Anthony de Meeus and Cornelia Gerstenmaier, Peter Reddaway, Edward Kline, Georg von Schlippe, as well as Western psychiatrists Margaret Wreshner, Gary Lowbeer, Jimmie Holland and Jacques Hassoun. Also, among ex-victims: in London, Victor Fainberg and Jaures Medvedev, in Vienna Sitnikoff, in Paris Natalia Gorbanevskaïa, Leoni Pliouchtch, Mikhaïl Chemiakhin, Maximov, in Bern, Valeri Tarsis, in Boston A. Essenine-Volpine, in Jerusalem Vladimir Gershowitz and Ilia Rips, in Tel Aviv Girsh Feigin and Anna Rosnovskaïa (daughter of Meita Leikina), as well as physicist Boris Tsukermann, who was never put in a mental hospital but was long time legal advisor for the Sakharov group. What’s more – and this was something totally new – I did a lot of interviews with the persecutors, who had played a role in the internments, as well as Soviet psychiatrists, like Marina Voikhonskaya, who had opposed the machine: Boris Segal, Edgar Goldstein, Salomon and Ludmilla Schwartzmann, Lev Levitine, Jacob Schultz. And as there were those who challenged me to ‘go there if it is true’, I went to the Soviet Union, on a student trip, and I was able to meet and talk with Doctors Melieshko, Snejnevski, Vartanian, who were the heads of the system. I came back, with my suitcases full of copies of holy icons done in gingerbread (ready to eat them in case of an unexpected police search), given to me by one of the daily heroes fighting the authorities - Piotr Startchik.


1966 : With the expulsion of Valeri Tarsis, the Western world were amazed to discover that Soviet dissidents were put in mental hospitals, to curtail their freedom, or because of their religious faith. For ten years or even more, exposures have been accumulating, with the testimonies of mathematician Essenine-Volpine, of Victor Fainberg and Natalia Gorbanevskaïa, who demonstrated in Moscow against the invasion of Czechoslovakia in Red Square, of Leonid Plioushtsh, of Vladimir Bukhovski. Why, after more than half-a-century of terrible silence, did the Western world –even from the Left wing – only now mobilize to fight the Communist oppression of the voice and of the soul? Why, after the denunciation of Stalinist Terror, did Khrushchev choose /such brutal means of repression ? Why, from the time of Breshnev on, did special hospitals increase in number, depending no longer on the Ministry of Health, but instead on the Ministry of the Interior (MVD)? Who are the psychiatrists devoted to repression ? What is the role of KGB ? Is the existence of these Soviet mental asylums, in a sense, a paradoxical sign of détente or, on the contrary, a symptoma of the tougher stance taken by Soviet power, and even by Communism? Why have authorities chosen to relax on Pliushtsh ? How can we interpret the Bukhovski-Corvalan exchange?

To answer all these questions, Elizabeth Antébi has interviewed a formidable list not only of victims themselves, but also around ten Soviet psychiatrists, in Israel, in the States, in Europe, and even in the Soviet Union which she dared to visit in September 1976. There, she was received by Academician Andrei Sakharov, members of the Human Rights Movement, physicians Vartanian and Meliechko, and also by Professor Snejnevski, the theoretician of Soviet psychiatry.

This book puts on trial, for the first time, the monolithic language of systematicall thought /ideology– an ideology which is victim of inflexible mechanisms and which, the courage of a handful of people, who refuse, from now on, to play the role of victims at the tribunal of History, risks irremediably to dismantle.

« With my sincere thanks for this book, which I will reread with much interest and emotion.» French Minister Pierre Mendès-France.

Mr. Mendes-France had agreed to write the preface … till a conversation on the phone with François Mitterrand, firmly suggesting that it was not recommended, at a time of a “Union of the Left” (with Communist French representatives). Another letter came from Mitterand’s advisor, Jacques Attali. But the one of which I’m the most proud, is the letter by the writer of Chinese Shadow Theatre, Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans), the first to have denounced the crimes of President Mao :

Canberra, April 17, 1977

Dear Elizabeth Antébi,

Thanks a lot to have sent me your impressive book. I have jumped greedily at it – and, by the way, I’ve found there a lot of ammunition for an article I’m writing – which will give me, quoting you, an occasion to add my modest contribution to the huge advertising campaign required for such a healthy work!
Waiting to meet you again and to pursue further our so rich dialog, I hope that we’ll exchange more by mail.
With my greetings,

Pierre Ryckmans, Dept. Of Chinese, The Australian National University

"Insulin for Antigone" : The recent book by Elizabeth Antébi, finally, breaks the deafness barrier. In contrast to the robust patients of the Soviet mental hospitals, our people in the Western world do not really have nerves of steel. Some of them are frightened to look at the infamous file. For others, the cup is already full. We don’t like to be suddenly awoken from where we sank a qualm, nor slacken our speed. In one of the most fortunate countries in the World, we love to cry and complain, without seeing what terrible destinies lie in store for others. Moreover, we repeat constantly how « alienated » we are, not even knowing (or wanting to know) what true alienation means – to be insane. Reading Antebi’s book, one can only reject such irresponsible verbiage. She tells people from the Left to stop their “baying with wooden and empty language”, when, elsewhere, in the ‘Paradise of the Worker’, alienated people are being thrown into mental hospitals, as the heroes of freedom they are.

[…] The facts related here, as numerous and monstrous as they are, seem to us so incredible, that we hesitate to believe them, living as we do in another world, even if our instinct tells us that they are true. We cannot believe that it could actually happen here, in our environment. So, we can consider that, everything being equal, we could postpone our reaction. And that is precisely the paradox of information : the more we know, and the more astounded we are, the more inhibited we become, because the reality and its demands are too overwhelming.

I don’t even want to think about why the West has repressed these revelations for so long and delayed investigating this material : in fact, nobody, actually, wants to hear this kind of truth, the sorts of things that is happening to these people. Each of us was only thinking about how to take advantage for ourselves.

In fact, when one reads the investigation file written by Elizabeth Antébi, your way of looking at things and your assumptions and prejudices change completely. These truths are too big for us to overshadow all other issues. Most surely, they predominate, they threaten to challenge our status quo, to awaken us, if only we allow ourselves to discover in them that most ancient and ever-present danger, against which any weakness is fatal – the persecution of man by man. In such a reading, one never knows what is the strongest – admiration or indignation. […]I suppose, even in the most abject circumstances, we continue to make “progress”. To pretend that the hero is a madman, to “cure” lucidity, to discredit the opponent, is really an amazing modern invention, isn’t it?

King Creon had no insulin. Antigone stammering in her coma, and gagged by her twenty pounds of medicinal stoutness is not tragic anymore, and we don’t believe in her. And that’s precisely the misfortune we incur.» Pierre Schaeffer", Le Matin de Paris, July 4, 1977.

« "Asylum and Exile" : Two books of greatest the importance have been published simultanously – The Return by Christian Jelen and Léopold Unger, and The Right of Asylums in the Soviet Union (Droit d’asile en Union Soviétique), by Elizabeth Antébi : these two investigation show us what has happened for years in the Soviet Union and contrast sharply with what one usually reads, because the authors have been successful in putting together all kinds of accounts and documents, in order to decipher the system as a whole. The two books transcend the usual emotion about victims, to challenge us not only on what we can accept in the Soviet Union, but on what kind of basis we accept cohabiting with the Soviet Union. Sharing the same values? That’s the question.

Elisabeth Antébi asked not only the dissidents, who were in mental hospitals for political reasons, but also the psychiatrists feeding the machine, in exile today or still in Soviet Union. In fact, she explored the system, inside and outside. Therefore, we follow with her the slow progression of an institution, from the Stalinist era, when it was a way to escape the worst, through the Khrushshevite period, when the discovery of a psychotropic medication made encouraged the authorities to believe it was possible to change the mind and spirit of those who ‘thought the wrong way’, up until today, with a brutally repressive psychiatry. The most intriguing thing is that Soviet psychiatrists, exiled now in Israel or elsewhere, still consider that political or religious opponents can only be mad! And the great merit of the book is to make the reader understand that Soviet psychiatric repression was not just a temporary expedient, nor an accidental deviation, but a logical outcome of the evolution of a system : it was as much the expression of this system as extermination through concentration camps was of Stalinism or Nazism.

It’s precisely when people refuse to stay in the system, to speak its « wooden language », to accept its mechanisms of oppression and the destruction of the mind, in short refuse to follow the aberrant ‘norms’ established by that system, that dissidents are exposed to a medicine – a psychiatry – that is has been a major symptom of the Totalitarian conditions of the development of this system for more than half-a-century. Only the younger generation of psychiatrists are able to break the shackles. As one of them, Doctor Edgar Goldstein, says accurately: ‘It calls to question the whole Soviet and socialist system: indeed, if the rights of mentally fit people are not respected, what happens to the rights of the mentally unwell?’» Pierre Daix, Le Quotidien de Paris, May 12, 1977.

« A dreadful document. The quintessence of horror. How do the Soviets ‘curing’ their opponents in their network of mental hospitals ? ‘By the alarmingly frequent use of medication and practices which, though appropriate in clinical cases, amount to no less than legitimised torture for healthy people: sulfazin paralyzes and gives a 40° C fever; aminazin gives a drug-induced stupor ; wrapping in a wet sheet crushes the body when drying ; triftazin and haloperidol, given without corrector, makes people want to walk when they are sitting, to sit when they are walking, and provokes terrible pains, and son on’. Could the Soviet clinical ‘universe’ be worse than that of the concentration camps of the Nazis? It’s a total intellectual catastrophe, that throws the lost Western world ‘into a word without sign, that distorts its language and reduces its references and symbols to nothing.’ Nevertheless, we hope, with the author of this book, that ‘thanks to Russian dissidents, the Western world will be able to find again the sense of what is human’, as Eugene Ionesco writes in the short but beautiful preface. Droit d’Asiles en Union Soviétique reminds us of the words of writer Albert Camus : ‘Any revolutionary becomes, the end, either an oppressor or a fanatic…’ A terror-stricking account, that one absolutely must read.» Georges Moinard La Villedieu, Agence de presse Thibaut Le Berre A.P., June 6-7, 1977.

« The King of the Insane has visited us in France, and was welcomed by President Giscard, this melancholic fool, consecrated for three days czar’s jester. […] But this ferocious old man is not the clown of his own ideas. He is merely the first Emperor to push this far the logic of absolute power, locking up, as ‘loonies’, people objecting to his Order. Matching Stalin, he knew how, as if by (Marxist) magic, to enrol the former Gulag birds into the army of nutcases. Trials, torture and camps were too primitive for him to use, to destroy man’s humanity. Science is much better, simpler: with three candies, five drops of syrup and ten electric shocks, it works - a brain is perfectly ‘corrected’. To begin with, we might wonder how all these psychiatrists, men of science, could have been party to such brutal repression in the Soviet Union. But Amalrik, Bukovski, Pliushsh, Solzhenitsyn, all the dissidents in exile having been saying it all along: it’s merely a logical part of the system, it’s the way the system works! When Elizabeth Antebi, a French journalist who dared to personally investigate some of these ‘factories’ of ‘corrected socialists’, spoke to Dr Marat Vartanian, responsible, among others for these Soviet plants for the chemical destruction of human beings, this was his response:‘Psychiatry is dependent upon the political system within which it is developing. Of course, we made errors, like in the Medvedev case. But we can admit it, if we can only study the problems in cooperation with Western psychiatrists …’[…] It’s terrible to see our poor Valy (Giscard d’Estaing) riding roughshod over the bodies of so many interned dissidents to embrace the Great Eastern Butcher - as if, like friends in the same exclusive club, they both had the same idea, and understood each other well.» Bernard Thomas, Le Canard Enchaîné, June 22, 1977.

« Elizabeth Antébi was in Lyon yesterday for the presentation of her book Droit d’asiles en Union Soviétique, on the internment of dissidents in the Soviet Union. Journalist for more than ten years, first with the Express, then with French TV, she is now a free-lance writer. She wants, above all, to preserve her independence: ‘I refuse to be in a box with a label. Poet Paul Valery used to say that only oysters and fools stick without thought.’ Why and how did she write this book ? ‘I’m neither a psychiatrist, nor politically involved, I just fear what could quite easily happen to us, the reduction of the spirit : our democracies could die of suffocation or of stupidity, don’t you think?’ » A. Guénard, Le Progrès de Lyon.

« When Bukhovski, in 1971, sent the file on dissidents who had been interned in mental hospitals for political reasons to the International Congress on Psychiatry, the psychiatrists found themselves in an awkward position. Yet, with the expulsion of Valeri Tarsis in 1966, the Western World began to discover, to their astonishment, the existence of political committals. The Pliushsh Affair, and then the Boukhovski-Corvalan exchange obliged the Communist Party itself to condemn that form of repression. Could we believe that it was a sincere condemnation or just a tactics to prevent the public asking basic questions? Why had the official Left Wing waited so long, more than sixty years, to react against crimes committed for the ‘good of Man’? Is not, in the end, the weapon of psychiatry an ineluctable and grotesque consequence of a monolithic language, that rewrites the past, truncates the present, in the name of a brave new world?[…]Documents are numerous and damning. Victims are not only intellectuals, but also workers, people who believed alas the promises of the leaders and who protested for the sake of their fellow-man, firm believers in Marxism who defended people and principles that ‘didn’t exist’ in the official language. The ‘abnormal’ are people refusing normalization.[…] More than ever, the dilemma concerns the West, immersed, without even knowing it, in this language, this paradigm (‘grid’) of thought, that it has to accept or to reject : “If the Soviet insane population concerns our world, writes E. Antébi, it’s because they have denounced this policy of an oyster glued to its rock, dumb, and whose ineluctable fate is to be swallowed.” […] We should not fear being accused of madness because we relentlessly, denounce barbarity wrapping up in the tawdry rags of the People’s Good. That kind of language, which gets us caught up in a web being watched by the spider, must not fool us.» Gérard Nirascou, Le Figaro.

« After so many accounts of political repression in the Soviet Union, it’s a young journalist, E. Antébi, who has finally provided us with a thorough investigation of the victims of a regime that, thanks to the progress of medicine, replaced the handcuffs with the syringe. She has interviewed ten or more Soviet psychiatrists in Israel, in the States, in Europe, and even within the Soviet Union. In Moscow she met Academician Snejnevski, the theoretician of Soviet psychiatry, and of course, victims of special hospitals, who tell us their cases in detail.[…] The list is long, frightening. Religious faith is, for the “doctors”, pathologic. General Grigorenko, a hero of the Second World War, Marxist and Major at the Vorochilov Academy, has been interned twice and stripped of his rank, because he spoke against anti-Semitism and concussion.» Françoise de Comberousse, France-Soir.

« Reading Droit d’Asiles en Union Soviétique, an important investigative document by Elizabeth Antébi, one is carried away, far beyond any medical or esoteric discussion on psychiatry, and this description, at once chilling and incendiary, of the psychiatric Soviet jails cries out to the reader long after the book is closed.[…] If, in the Soviet Union, people are no longer shot as in the time of the Trials of 1930/the 1930s , they are now committed, in straitjackets, effaced, destroyed with the help of kapos-psychiatrists, merely for being politically averse, anti-establishment, or just religious - are you not mad if you believe in what doesn’t exists ? -‘sexually deviant’ like filmmaker Paradjanov, whomever, in short, the KGB decided he was not like others. Elizabeth Antébi reveals the Kremlin’s inquisitorial psychiatry from a staggering angle and tries to analyse how men of science could transform a therapy into a torture,

observing the paradox that ‘in a Marxist society the mad man is the man (or the woman) who rejects alienation.’. But the ‘mad’ population of the Soviet psychiatric jails is not a problem only for the Kremlin : ‘The West, writes Elizabeth Antébi, the Left wing especially, panics when it is a question of questioning the nature of the Socialist State, and, in our countries too, an official dogmatic language prevents people from being ‘nomadically’ militant, running wherever there is a persecuted person needing help, whatever his political ideas might be: we are ourselves becoming hemiplegic!’ We have only to think to the story of Chifrine, who was in a Soviet camp: ‘Twice I have actually seen myself and have heard many times from other prisoners, that some have cut off their own hands to throw them in with the wood, in the carriages. And they said: We want people in the West know who cut that wood. Because the wood is send to the free world to be sold there. As soon as I arrived in the West, I talked to people who were involved in the wood trade with the Soviet Union. And I asked them : Did you ever happen to find hands amongst the wood ? They answered: Yes. I asked, then, why they never reported it in the papers, or on the radio. They answered: Impossible. We would have to immediately stop any trade with the Soviet Union. » Henri Smolarski, Tribune Juive, June 2, 1977.

« Elizabeth Antébi merits our gratitude for the meticulous and wonderful work she has done, and the terrible assessment she gives of the repression of these people, as many women as men, victimised merely for their political dissidence or because they actually dared to exert their common sense. » Claude Bellanger, Le Parisien Libéré, June 7, 1977.

« A speech in defence of Man.» Guy Rossi-Landi, Lire, Summer 1977.

«’France is also concerned with these problems, says Elizabeth Antébi. With the reign of bureaucracy and technocracy, increasing fear and auto-censorship, I see a frightening linear mentality coming.’ […] She had asked leaders of the Left wing to write the preface for her book. They had initially accepted but, subsequently, declined to comment, and finally, it was the play-wright Ionesco who did it.”» C.R.D., Dernière Heure Lyonnaise, édition du Dauphiné Libéré, 30 juillet 1977.

« The first book to consider the problem from all angles. A flawless investigation.» La Croix, 1st September 1977.

« A terrible journey with Elizabeth Antébi, from the sinister Serbsky Institute to the prison asylum of Chernyakhovsk, in Eastern Prussia, convinces us that we have been dealing for more than half-a-century with abomination. ‘Why this indifference and deafness ? Why, only now, after such a long silence, is the West, especially the Left Wing so upset by the incarceration for political reasons in mental hospitals in the Soviet Union? Might it not be a new strategy for the same purposes?’, asks Elizabeth Antébi, who returns pensive from her journey at death’s door. Not for the first time, there is a new feather in the cuckoo’s nest.» Jean-François Mongibeaux, Quotidien de Paris.

« One has to read first the report by E.. Antébi which calls to question the Soviet system through an investigation of the use of shock treatment on people declared « insane » for political reasons.» Blaise Lempen, La Tribune-Le Matin, Lausanne, May 17, 1977.

« Insulin and barbed wire. For a long time, the Soviet hospital became a politico-ejecting cuckoo’s nest. The author dissects the wheels of this brain-destroying machine. » Le Point, May 30, 1977.

But there where also ambiguous reactions, at a time when ‘anti-psychiatry’ was fashionable:

«Elizabeth Antébi’s book has many merits. First, its gives an invaluable chronology of the Psychiatric repression in the Soviet Union, but also of the resistance, in the Soviet Union and outside to this oppression.[…] Invaluable also are the interviews with dissidents, with victims, and above all with psychiatrists, in exile or still in the Soviet Union. Here, the talent of the journalist has to be emphasized : nobody, till now, that I am aware of, could have collected together so many declarations of such significance. But Elizabeth’s book is not only that. Throughout the book, she asks some very good questions: might not the use of a repressive psychiatry be seen as the symptom of something else? […] And another very important question : at the ideological level, what is allowing the use of this psychiatry ? The objectivisation of Man.[…] But are you sure, Elizabeth Antébi, that there can be any risk of a Totalitarian psychiatry coming to France in the luggage of Marxism? Have we not, the Trotskyists, recently founded a Committee against the institution of the psychiatric hospital in the Soviet Union ?». Roger Gentis, La Quinzaine Littéraire, June 16, 1977.

And also people accusing me of being a pathological “ visceral anti-Communist”, like this Mr. Colin of Lyon Poche:

« Who can ignore today that, before becoming a terrible reality, Gulag was first a philosophical and political argument against Communism for ‘idiot-thinkers’ and ‘clown-philosophers’ as Maurice Clavel, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Lardreau, Jambet or Glucksmann. According to these people, the existence of concentration camps should be enough to demonstrate the dangers of Marxism! … Elizabeth Antébi’s book falls into the same trap: she does not just present documents, but makes a case against Marxism. The preface by the well-known anti-communist Ionesco is clear enough!» Colin, Lyon Poche, 28 juin 1977.

(Eugène Ionesco)

We know now, at least we can no longer fool ourselves, about what’s happening in the Soviet Union. Truth has been screamed, exposed bare, in all its cruelty, under our eyes opened by force. For two or three years, particularly, we have had plenty of accounts - articles, documents, books thrusting images of penal colonies, concentration camps, psychiatric ‘correction centres’, in our face, forcing us to listen to the cries of millions of persecuted people, and materializing this ghost army of genocide survivors.

Why, from what the few but informed people have been saying from 1925 on, has nobody ever wanted to listen, or to remember.

Why has Elizabeth Antébi chosen now to write this book? In order that nobody should ever forget. Because the Communist-oriented Left wing is still there, it would like to infiltrate all these revelations, defuse the ‘bomb’, claim in its own name, without scruple, the proclamation of the truth. Why this deafness for sixty years or more? asks Elizabeth Antébi. ‘Because the Left is panicking to call the Socialist State into question, but within the paradigm (‘grid’) of a frozen, outdated political and social language that has, for so long, promised to give Man the key of Universe.’ It’s a huge intellectual disaster throwing the West « into a world without a sign, distorting its own language and reducing to nothing its references and symbols.’ Nevertheless, we hope with the author, that ‘thanks to Russian dissidents, the West will recover a sense of what is human’.

[…] Recently, at Television, philosopher Raymond Aron asked a journalist of the Communist paper L’Humanité, to quote just one socialist country where freedom was honoured. Ten times, he asked, ten times, she evaded the question. Now, the Communists have decided to defend freedom, but freedom is a ‘Bourgeois’ concept : they are trapped by their own language of propaganda. For the first time, because of a book like this one, their language cannot help them. They are put into conflict with themselves.

And we have to remember that, in a Communist world, totally reduced to the socialist dimension, as philosopher Berdiaev wrote, Man is much more alienated than in our Bourgeois world, because he is alienated in his third dimension – Communism killing not only the man but human spirit and transcendence.

Droit d’asiles en Union Soviétique is an excellent book, adding a new investigation of the Communist language and the Logic of the False to the canon of earlier books by Jean-François Revel, Raymond Aron, François Fetjö, Manès Sperber, Emmanuel Todd, Simon Leys, Thierry Maulnier, Michel Legris, Alain Besançon, Hedrick Smith, Pierre Daix, Annie Kriegel, on the true nature of Communism. […]

 In the Process of Translation

La notion clef, à la base de la répression psychiatrique en Union Soviétique, est ce que l’on pourrait appeler le « non-concept » ou le principe de « non-existence » : ce qui ne figure pas dans le langage officiel n’a pas droit à l’existence. Postychev, après sa condamnation à mort, protesta de sa fidélité bolchevique. Mais Postychev a disparu du monde socialiste dès qu’il est passé en jugement. Ses protestations n’existent pas. Khrouchtchev, dans son énumération des peuples exterminés ou déportés par Staline, « oublie » les Tatars de Crimée et les Allemands de la Volga, donc ces peuples n’existent plus. Il n’existe plus de Tatars de Crimée mais seulement des « Tatars ayant autrefois habité la Crimée ». Le général Grigorenko sera interné pour avoir défendu ces gens qui n’existent pas.

C’est ainsi que, de la même manière, on passe sous silence les réticences de Marx face à la Russie qui se situe à mi-chemin entre l’Europe et l’Asie, et qui déjoue les classifications de Marx et Engels, puisque l’on ne saurait couler l’Empire des Tsars dans le fameux moule du shéma marxiste des civilisations – communisme primitif, antiquité, féodalité, capitalisme, socialisme. « Aujourd’hui, écrit l’historien Tibor Szamuely dans La Tradition russe, personne n’a le droit d’introduire même l’ombre d’un rapprochement avec l’Orient dans l’armure idéologique massive qui recouvre la conception officielle soviétique de l’histoire russe. L’idée même d’un système social de ‘despotisme oriental’ ou de ‘modes de production asiatique’, jadis si utilement défendue par les Pères Fondateurs eux-mêmes, a été oblitérée, gommée, extirpée des esprits, convertie en un non-concept. »

Quand Pliouchtch entreprend de discuter avec un de ses interrogateurs à propos du livre de Lénine Matérialisme et empiro-criticisme, il transgresse la loi du non-concept. Ce que lui dit l’interrogateur du KGB fait partie de ce que le langage officiel a retenu de cet ouvrage. Le reste n’existe pas. De jour en jour et de mois en mois, on réécrit l’histoire officielle, on oblitère, osn gomme, on en extirpe des événements que le peuple a vécus, on lui interdit de se souvenir. Si, en 1950, l’Union Soviétique est un des rares pays européens où l’on interdit officiellement la lobotomie, on opère plus subtilement le cerveau des gens. On le lave et le purifie de la mémoire et de la pensée individuelle. On refoule l’inconscient de toute une société malade qui en oublie la cause de ses souffrances, puisque le passé qu’elle croyait avoir vécu n’existe pas.

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