STUMP » Articles » Judgment in Moscow: Story about the Trial for Truth that Didn't Take Place » 14 March 2019, 22:01

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Judgment in Moscow: Story about the Trial for Truth that Didn't Take Place  


14 March 2019, 22:01

Judgment in Moscow: Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity by Vladimir Bukovsky, originally published in the 1990s in non-English languages is finally being published in English.

Let me quote Bruce Bawer on why it took so long:

Bukovsky’s book might have helped awaken Americans to the reality of Communism. But, as noted, it’s only just now coming out in English. Back in the 1990s it was contracted to Random House, but that publisher’s longtime editorial director, Jason Epstein, according to Bukovsky, tried “to force me to rewrite the whole book from the liberal left political perspective.” In particular, Epstein disapproved of his criticism of various American individuals and organizations that, in Bukovsky’s view, had been useful idiots for the Kremlin.

Among them was the movie director Francis Ford Coppola, who had acted as a liaison between President Carter and the Soviets in discussions of a proposed joint film project about Soviet life. Then there were the honchos at ABC-TV who, in 1966, inked a deal with the Kremlin to co-produce a documentary about a working-class Russian family that would “illustrate the achievements of the Soviet government over the past 50 years.” When Epstein rejected the idea that such a program could necessarily be described as Soviet propaganda, Bukovsky retorted: “How would you feel, Mr. Epstein, about a film on ‘German Woman’ made with the approval of Dr. Goebbels in 1938?” Ultimately Epstein cancelled Bukovsky’s book contract, saying, “I simply can’t publish a book that accuses Americans like Cyrus Vance [Carter’s Secretary of State] and Francis Ford Coppola of unpatriotic — or even treacherous — behavior.”

Well, the people publishing the book now have no such compunction to hew to this consideration, because I am one (among many) of the volunteers, as well as paid professionals, who helped put the book together.

Let me jump to the official description of the book on Amazon:

International bestselling author Vladimir Bukovsky’s 1995 book, Judgment in Moscow, detailed Soviet meddling in Western politics in the 1970’s and 80’s, as documented in Soviet archives to which Bukovsky was given access by post-Communist Russia’s President Yeltsin — unaware that Bukovsky carried a new high-tech scanner.

Originally written in Russian, Judgment was seen as a major indictment of political treachery both inside and outside the USSR. The book was funded by a grant from Margaret Thatcher. Fellow dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn paid for its publication in Russia.

Bukovsky’s thesis is in the title: Just as the Nuremberg trials declared Nazism and associated actions crimes against humanity, so should the world have put Communism on trial after the fall of the Soviet Union. The goal: Not revenge, but a declaration that the world would consider a resurgence of the USSR’s form of totalitarian government intolerable and criminal, and would not allow it to rise again.

Instead, Bukovsky details a pattern of co-operation with Soviet regimes that makes today’s accusations of collusion between American leaders and Moscow not only unsurprising, but expected.

A controversial tome in nine other languages, Judgment has never been published in English, after the author refused to rewrite parts of the book which accused prominent Americans of behind-the-scenes collusion with the Soviets. The author quotes a Random House editor’s letter: “I don’t disagree, but I simply can’t publish a book that accuses Americans like Cyrus Vance and Francis Ford Coppola of unpatriotic — or even treacherous — behavior.”

The 2019 English edition is a new translation by translator and journalist Alyona Kojevnikov, who has worked for Radio Liberty, the BBC and Prime Minister Thatcher. it includes an introduction by former Economist editor Edward Lucas and afterword by veteran Russia journalist David Satter. Published by Ninth of November press, it will also include hundreds of source footnotes to translated Communist Party documents, newspaper and book archives, plus historical context notes for today’s readers.

I was one of the contributors of historical context notes, and I organized and checked notes sent in by others. I also provided some wizardry (heh) in using VBA to extract every footnote from the text so all the references could be checked. I will talk about some of this work at the end of this post, because I primarily want to talk about the book’s meat itself.


Let us return to Bruce Bawer’s review:

It’s the United States of America, and the year is 2019, and a hard-bitten old Commie named Bernie Sanders is, for the second time in a row, a popular candidate for the presidency. Meanwhile, the youngest and most high-profile new member of Congress is a staggeringly callow woman whose fatuously utopian rhetoric has made her a media darling. At the same time, the Democratic Party center itself is quickly lurching leftward, with once sensible politicians now spouting foolish and dangerous socialist bromides.

Some observers profess astonishment at these developments. In fact there’s no reason whatsoever for surprise. For one thing, as the legendary Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky laments in his book Judgment in Moscow (Ninth of November Press, $24.99 hardcover) — which appeared in French in 1995 and in Russian and German the year after, but is only now being published in English for the first time — the fall of the USSR was not followed by the kind of conspicuous moral reckoning and housecleaning that went on in Germany after Hitler’s defeat. There was no post-Soviet equivalent of the Nuremberg trials. Politburo and KGB members like Vladimir Putin, instead of being imprisoned or banished or fleeing to the Brazilian rainforest or the mountains of Bolivia, simply altered their public profiles and retained or resumed power in the new, purportedly post-Communist Russia.

As Bukovsky puts it: “To bring to justice those who took part in Nazi atrocities is a sacred task, the duty of one and all. But God forbid that you should so much as point a finger at a communist (let alone his fellow traveler); that is improper, a ‘witch hunt.’” How to convince the Western multitudes that Communism is horrible when its avatars were let off scot-free?

This book is a detailed exposure of what would have been at such a trial… had it ever been allowed to take place.

So how has Bukovsky managed it? He got a hold of original documents from Soviet archives (and how that happened is a story in itself). When Bukovsky is proclaiming specific people had specific roles, he has the documentation to back it up.

Bukovsky’s book consists largely of items from the Soviet archives. In transcripts of Politburo meetings, we see Soviet leaders discussing what to do about Solzhenitsyn or Sakharov. We encounter definitive proof that the multitudinous Cold War-era “friendship associations,” “peace conferences,” and the like were (as American anti-Communists charged at the time) nothing but cynical Kremlin efforts to manipulate Western opinion. We read about clandestine contacts between Moscow and pro-Soviet Western politicians, about under-the-table payments to Communists in the West, and about the commitment of dissidents to mental hospitals. Some of these materials are sensational; but, as Bukovsky laments, the Western media lost interest in them very quickly after the Iron Curtain fell.

There really has been Soviet Russian collusion. Whether some were just useful idiots, or if some were complicit… well, some of the people are dead and that’s that. Others are still alive, and can explain themselves. Were they simply fooled? Or did they know?

Frankly, I’m not sure it makes much of a difference. In many of the cases, they should have known. I bet many were True Believers, as many currently are.

But they need to admit to what actually happened.

That is the point of this book: providing the proof as to how the Soviet leadership actually operated, and what they did. Here is an example:

Bukovsky reminds us that, back in the 1980s, talk-show host Phil Donahue’s frequent on-camera teaming with genial Soviet “journalist” Vladimir Pozner (who spoke perfect, unaccented American English) served to put a human face on a monstrous system. Bukovsky calls out President Carter for his betrayal of dissident Natan Sharansky, Nixon for introducing détente, Reagan and Thatcher for being too credulous in regard to Gorbachev’s “reforms,” and a raft of American “Sovietologists” who, in effect, functioned as apologists for the Soviet system, if only because this guaranteed them continued access to the USSR, without which they wouldn’t have been considered experts.

This is not a specific partisan issue, by the way, unless the Democratic Party wants to morph into the Communist Party. Bukovsky has some particularly harsh words for Americans (which Bruce Bawer remarks on), but I didn’t mind it. That’s not even the main thrust of the book — it’s mainly about what the Soviet Union actually did.

Notes from an interviewer:

Danny Ashman
Follow · 18 hrs ·

Yesterday I got to talk to Vladimir Bukovsky. He spent over a decade in Russian gulags, was an adviser to Reagan and Thatcher, and even ran for President of Russia. It was very cool!

His foresight on geopolitics is incredible. Often times when I read his work, which was written decades ago, I am double-checking the date to see if it wasn’t actually written in the last year.

In the West, over a decade ago, he warned us that the European Union was a dangerous socialist and tyrannical institution which must be stopped, and that political correctness was a tool to control and oppress us. Over two decades ago, when clueless Westerns were sucking Yeltsin balls, he was warning that Russia would degrade back into a dangerous KGB state.

His autobiography, To Build a Castle, is a great read for anyone, which covers life under Communism, what it’s like in the gulag, what his mindset was like resisting torture and sticking with his principles. He never considered himself a victim.

He also has a new book coming out soon, Judgment in Moscow, where he analyzes reams of documents he stole from the Central Committee, reveals CC thinking, and just how deeply the Communists have corrupted The West. This book is great also, though not for everyone, I think Tim Starr and Billy Beck will like it!

I hope so!

More: blurb from academic John Earl Haynes :

“Judgement in Moscow combines a devastating archival documentation of key points in Soviet history with a passionate polemic directed at those in the West who averted their eyes, minimized, or justified Communist totalitarian oppression and Soviet aggression. Students of Soviet history as well as historians of the Western reaction to Soviet communism must grapple with his Soviet archival documents and listen to Bukovsky’s fervent indictment of Western apologists.”

– John Earl Haynes, author of In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage

Communist Propaganda and Revisionist History

Vladimir Bukovsky took great risks when he and his friend Pavel photocopied archival documents in the early 1990s in Russia and from the Gorbachev Foundation archives in Moscow. These were brought to England by Pavel Stroilov. Bukovsky has published some of the documents and the links in his upcoming book in the English version, Judgment in Moscow, Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity. (Bukovsky, May 2019)

Bukovsky obtained thousands of documents over a period of a year. Had he not succeeded, he said, “it is highly likely that they would have lain secret for many more years, if not forever,” lost to history. While offering these documents for free to the western press, most have ignored him with “So what? Who cares?” The typical media tends to marginalize the anti-communism messenger with claims of “McCarthyism.”

There is a reason this publication is not abridged. We want these documents in the public record, in full.

As I mentioned, about 20 years ago, all this was published in Russian, and then in other major European languages.

But not in English.

I’m sorry to hear that the French and German versions weren’t enough to hear the public mea culpas, and… I don’t think it’s necessarily different that it’s going to be published in English. Unfortunately.

If people couldn’t recognize the enormity of Soviet crimes against humanity when it was in Russian (and French and German and….), I don’t think that they’ll admit to their errors in English. Venezuela is melting down before everybody’s eyes, and the socialists pretend that’s not real socialism.

That said, I hope some will read Bukovsky’s book and will learn. And, by publishing it in English, we are making it available to later English-speakers, even if current ones want to turn a blind eye.


Let me explain why I wrote historical context notes (both a glossary and biographical notes with help from many other people), when you can simply look things up on Wikipedia or google it when you’re reading the book in kindle.

(Aside: You can pre-order the Kindle version, but there will be a paperback version available on the official release date in May. We were unable to put up an entry for pre-orders for that version.)

Yes, partly it was because somebody asked me to, and they had their own motivations, so I can’t speak for them.

But the issue was that I wanted to provide enough context to the reader, without overwhelming them with a Wikipedia-length article… and that the “capsule description” you often get at the beginning of the Wiki article, or quick result from an internet search, would generally emphasize things that weren’t relevant to the book. The point is to understand why that specific person was important, their relevance to the overall narrative, etc.

Also, we did not take a neutral tone in our approach, and definitely not a tone that was praising communism. I probably couldn’t edit in some of the things I wrote about some of the Soviet leaders into a Wiki page. There is a reason I stopped trying to edit Wikipedia.

But the point is: we wanted to make the book accessible to people who were not necessarily brought up in the depths of the Cold War.

Heck, I didn’t even know many of the Soviet (and American!) players, as I’m Gen X, and not Boomer or even from a prior generation. We want the readers to understand – ths is not intended to be esoteric. We want the truth to come out.

It is important to get the details right. Volunteers traced down original sources, and not just pieces that quoted original sources. We wanted to make sure we got the details correct, and to be able to trace the whole chain of information.

We hope this will be an important historical document, for now, and for generations to come. Please check it out when it’s released in May.

In the interim, I recommend reading Bukovsky’s To Build a Castle, which is an extremely compelling memoir about Bukovsky’s treatment in the Soviet system.


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