Archive for May 26th, 2019

Mass murderer Lavrentiy Beria: Moscow’s comeback kid? What’s selling in Russian bookstores today…

Sunday, May 26th, 2019
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Marianna Yarovskaya

Think you have it bad here? When you see what’s selling in Russian bookstores, you’ll be grateful for Amazon.com. Filmmaker Marianna Yarovskaya was presenting her Women of the Gulag at Cannes International Film Market, and was en route to Chisnau in Moldova, where the film about the last surviving women of the Soviet gulag system will be getting an award.

But she took a moment to write to me from Cannes: “Moscow friends occasionally send me snapshots from local and big bookstores. Here are a few more. Photos of ‘wonderful’ legally sold books in Moscow stores that have been sent to me: Beria: The Best Manager of the Twentieth Century (left), The Genius of Stalin, The Genius in Power.” This was photographed at the newspaper stand near Kazansky train station in Moscow this morning.”

Joseph Stalin is infamous and renowned. But Lavrentiy Beria? Not so much. Yet he engineered the Katyń massacres, which destroyed a generation of Poland’s leadership, about 22,000 officers and civilians.

He administered and expanded the vast gulag system, the subject of Marianna’s film. He also oversaw secret detention facilities for Soviet scientists and engineers, and the Communist takeover of the nations in Central and Eastern Europe, along with the repression of the people in those countries. He even supervised the development of a Soviet atomic bomb project.

But some of you will remember him from The Death of Stalin. Simon Russell Beale portrays the unsavory Beria in the film clip below, with Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov (in white), who briefly assumed power after Stalin’s death, and Steve Buscemi as the wily Nikita Khrushchev, who launched a successful coup d’état.

Theatrical distribution of the film was banned in Russia, but pirated copies circulated.