Egor Ligachev, leader of the “conservative” wing of the CPSU under Gorbachev, died yesterday at the age of 100. He was a teetotaller who took good care of his health. The cause of death was bilateral pneumonia, though his son says it wasn’t COVID-19.
By all accounts, he was a decent and uncorrupt man, e.g. see this in a blog post by elections blogger and oppositionist Alexander Kireev, in which he imagines the outcome of a Soviet election in 1990 (coincidentally written just a few days ago):
I met Ligachev in Moscow not far from the State Duma building in 2004. He was already a former deputy at that time, but he walked towards her even at a surprisingly vigorous step for an 84-year-old man. I greeted him politely, because no one paid any attention to him. We talked a little: he was even glad that a young man like me knows him well. He gave me his book and wrote. Let me draw your attention: a member of the top leadership of the USSR, the former head of the Tomsk region (besides, under him at that time oil fields were developed in the region!) Went to the State Duma on foot. Maybe he lived within walking distance, I’m not sure. Yes, and it was in the summer, the weather was good. Of course, he must have had enough money for a taxi, but he still walked on foot. He was dressed simply, one might say in the Soviet way: an ordinary shirt and trousers. So it would have come out in 1980, not in 2004: no one would have paid attention. It seems to me that it was clear from everything that he was living the life of an ordinary Moscow pensioner, and not some kind of millionaire. Can you imagine this for the current leaders of Russia?
Yes, that’s quite hard to imagine. But it didn’t exactly do Ligachev or the classical Marxist-Leninist ideals he espoused a lot of good. He did always come across as a damp rag to me. He played a crucial role in promoting Gorbachev as the successor to Andropov, and supported him until he felt that perestroika had gone too far in the direction of Social Democracy; then he settled for writing complaints to Gorbachev, which were “ignored” and eventually led to his dismissal from the Politburo in July 1990. The author of the famous phrase “Boris, you are wrong” had also played a central role in promoting him into the Party’s Central Committee in the first place.
So, just as clueless on judging people as he was on understanding market economics:
One of the most memorable anecdotes from Stephen Cohen’s Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives is where he recounts a visit by Egor Ligachev, probably the second man after Gorbachev in the late 1980s USSR, to New York, in which he amazed his interlocutors by repeatedly asking who was responsible for organizing the food supply to the city.
Nor did he have the spine to support the August coup against Gorbachev. With limp-wristed “hardliners” like this, it is not as much of a surprise that the USSR fell apart.
Well, not limp-wristed except as concerns Russians and their self-determination, at any rate. He hated expressions of Russian nationalism, criticizing the KPRF’s turn to a populist pro-ethnic Russian position during the 2010s.
The blogger denalt has gathered some quotes he said on this matter from 2012:
The Pskov regional committee of the Communist Party, headed by him in the New Year’s address to the residents of the region, called on“ Russian to the Russian – help! ”. If this is not a manifestation of nationalism, so what is it, where is the “fierce struggle against the vulgarization of the Russian idea by nationalism?”
The divided Russian people arose as a result of the destruction of the Soviet Union, the dismemberment of the Soviet people. By and large, it should be primarily about the divided Soviet people. The reunification of the Russian people, like any other fraternal people, can be resolved only when the Soviet people are restored on the basis of the alliance of Russians with other nationalities, in the process of building socialism, eradicating nationalism and chauvinism. ”
… only Union 2.0. No Russia!
As for the labor migrants, which are referred to in the Party’s Address to the Russian people in a very unfriendly manner, without any “caution and prudence ”, then it is time to stop all kinds of vilification against them, accuse them of “settling in primordially Russian territories ”. After all, this is a part of the divided Soviet people, moreover, mainly the most disadvantaged … Apparently, it is necessary to thoroughly deal with migrants, their organization and political education.
They continue to insist that the Russian people are a state-forming people, thereby imposing the idea of its unity. Although it is known that the state in a class-antagonistic society is formed not by the people, but by classes. After all, these are the basics of Marxism-Leninism.
Tsarism suppressed non-Russian peoples, sowed mistrust, discord between them, and equally instilled alienation among the Russians towards them. Native languages were in the corral, to the point that it was forbidden to publish newspapers in them, and to teach in their native language in schools. The peoples of Russia were In a word, as it was said: in tsarist Russia there were two misfortunes: below – the power of darkness, and above – the darkness of power.
… In a word, if the tsarist autocracy was not, in the full sense, a prison of peoples, then, according to V.I. Lenin, it included “a bloody past, when the Russia of the capitalist oppressors played the role of an executioner over other peoples.
So no wonder that multi-national liberals (“noviops”) tend to have a bit of a soft spot for this sovok fossil.
Conversely, I suspect, this hints at a reason for a significant part of the revulsion against the “conservative” wing of the Soviet establishment on the part of ethnic Russians in the late 1980s.