The Stalinist Regime in the Soviet Union

The Stalinist Regime in the Soviet Union
With the disintegration of the Russian Empire, the Communists toppled the interim government in the November 1917 Revolution and established a dictatorship of the proletariat. A one-party system was created where, in theory, the power resided in the People's Councils, which in turn were elected by the people. In actual fact, the elite of the Communist (Bolshevik) Party was in charge. A campaign of terror was instigated against real and imagined "Enemies of the Revolution". In 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was established through an amalgamation of the Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian and Trans-Caucasian Republics.

After the death of Lenin in 1924, a power struggle began and Josef Stalin emerged the victor and became a one-man dictator of the Union. During his rule there were large-scale deportations. A network of prison camps was established throughout the Union. In the overall terror – death sentences, incarceration, deportation to distant regions and starvation as the result of Communist policies – millions perished.

The core tenet of Communist ideology is the issue of class struggle and the declared goal is to put an end to exploitation and to establish a classless and fair society. To this end a general nationalisation of land and factories was implemented and acts of terror were directed in particular towards former capitalists and well-to-do farmers (kulaks).

The Communists were hoping to achieve a worldwide proletariat revolution. To this end, the Soviet Union supported and encouraged revolutionary movements elsewhere – militarily, financially and intellectually – for example in Estonia, Spain and in China. At the commencement of World War II, the USSR staged "socialist revolutions" in its occupied territories. After the war it established Communist regimes throughout Eastern Europe.

The USSR eventually broke down and formally ceased to exist in 1991. Since that time neither the Soviet Union Communist Parties nor any of the regimes established by them have been brought to international tribunals for crimes against humanity.