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Leningrad Affair

Leningrad Affair

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The Leningrad Affair, or Leningrad case ("Ленинградское дело" in Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, 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
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 of treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

 and intention to create an anti-Soviet
Anti-Sovietism
Anti-Sovietism and Anti-Soviet refer to persons and activities actually or allegedly aimed against the Soviet Union or government power within the Soviet Union.Three different flavors of the usage of the term may be distinguished....

 organization out of the Leningrad
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 Party cell.

Researchers argue that the motivation behind the cases was Stalin's
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 fear of competition from the younger and popular Leningrad leaders - who had been fêted as heroes following the city's siege
Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade was a prolonged military operation resulting from the failure of the German Army Group North to capture Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, in the Eastern Front theatre of World War II. It started on 8 September 1941, when the last...

. Stalin's desire to keep power 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
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

, execution of Zinoviev
Grigory Zinoviev
Grigory Yevseevich Zinoviev , born Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky Apfelbaum , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician...

 and the Right Opposition
Right Opposition
The Right Opposition was the name given to the tendency made up of Nikolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov, Mikhail Tomsky and their supporters within the Soviet Union in the late 1920s...

.

Events


In January 1949 Pyotr Popkov, Aleksei Kuznetsov
Aleksei Kuznetsov
Alexey Alexandrovich Kuznetsov was a Soviet statesman, CPSU functionary, Lieutenant General, member of CPSU Central Committee...

 and Nikolai Voznesensky
Nikolai Voznesensky
Nikolai Alekseevich Voznesensky was the Soviet economic planner who oversaw the running of Gosplan during the German-Soviet War. A protégé of Andrei Zhdanov, Voznesensky was appointed Deputy Premier in May 1940 at the age of thirty-eight. He was directly involved in the recovery of production...

 organized a Leningrad Trade Fair to boost the post-war economy and support the survivors of the Siege of Leningrad
Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade was a prolonged military operation resulting from the failure of the German Army Group North to capture Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, in the Eastern Front theatre of World War II. It started on 8 September 1941, when the last...

 with goods and services from all over the Soviet Union. The Fair was attacked by official Soviet propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

, and was falsely portrayed as a scheme to use the federal budget from Moscow for business development in Leningrad, although the budget and economics of such a trade fair were normal and legitimate and approved by State Planning Commission
Gosplan
Gosplan or State Planning Committee was the committee responsible for economic planning in the Soviet Union. The word "Gosplan" is an abbreviation for Gosudarstvenniy Komitet po Planirovaniyu...

 and the government of the USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. A number of other accusations were added.

As a result of the first prosecution, on September 30, 1950, Nikolai Voznesensky
Nikolai Voznesensky
Nikolai Alekseevich Voznesensky was the Soviet economic planner who oversaw the running of Gosplan during the German-Soviet War. A protégé of Andrei Zhdanov, Voznesensky was appointed Deputy Premier in May 1940 at the age of thirty-eight. He was directly involved in the recovery of production...

 (chairman of Gosplan
Gosplan
Gosplan or State Planning Committee was the committee responsible for economic planning in the Soviet Union. The word "Gosplan" is an abbreviation for Gosudarstvenniy Komitet po Planirovaniyu...

), Mikhail Rodionov
Mikhail Rodionov
Mikhail Ivanovich Rodionov was a Soviet-Russian statesman who was from 1946 to 1949 the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Russian SFSR, literally meaning Premier or Prime Minister. He was executed in the aftermath of the Leningrad Affair....

 (Chairman of the RSFSR Council of Ministers), Aleksei Kuznetsov
Aleksei Kuznetsov
Alexey Alexandrovich Kuznetsov was a Soviet statesman, CPSU functionary, Lieutenant General, member of CPSU Central Committee...

, Pyotr Popkov, Ya. F. Kapustin and P. G. Lazutin 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. The verdict was announced after midnight and the six main defendants were executed by shooting on October 1, for which Stalin's government reinstated the death penalty
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 in the Soviet Union. The rest of the alleged accomplices were sentenced to different prison terms.

About 2,000 of Leningrad's public figures were removed from their 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 in the Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

 prison camps. Intellectuals were harshly persecuted for the slightest signs of dissent, such as Nikolai Punin
Nikolai Punin
Nikolay Nikolayevich Punin was a Russian art scholar and writer. He edited several magazines, such as Izobrazitelnoye Iskusstvo among others, and was also co-founder of the Department of Iconography in the State Russian Museum...

, who expressed his dislike of Soviet propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 and thousands of Lenin's portraits.

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

All of the accused were later rehabilitated
Rehabilitation (Soviet)
Rehabilitation in the context of the former Soviet Union, and the Post-Soviet states, was the restoration of a person who was criminally prosecuted without due basis, to the state of acquittal...

 during the Khrushchev Thaw
Khrushchev Thaw
The Khrushchev Thaw refers to the period from the mid 1950s to the early 1960s, when repression and censorship in the Soviet Union were partially reversed and millions of Soviet political prisoners were released from Gulag labor camps, due to Nikita Khrushchev's policies of de-Stalinization and...

, many of them posthumously.

Alexei Kosygin, the future Chairman
Premier of the Soviet Union
The office of Premier of the Soviet Union was synonymous with head of government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics . Twelve individuals have been premier...

 of the Council of Ministers, survived but his political career was hampered for some time.