The Unknown History of Soviet Resistance to Khrushchev: The Novocherkassk Massacre

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Originally published in СТАЛИН — НАШЕ ЗНАМЯ!  (https://www.facebook.com/groups/STALIN.NASHE.ZNAME/permalink/1502514386461791/)

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55 years ago, on June 2, 1962, there was a Novocherkassk shooting of a demonstration against a rise in prices.

The workers, dissatisfied with Khrushchev’s policy, took to the streets, they walked with red flags, sang the “Internationale”, carried portraits of VI. Lenin, fresh flowers. The slogans were: “Give me meat, butter!”, “We need apartments!”, “Khrushchev for meat!”, “Lies about Stalin Khrushchev will not help!”, “Down with the party bourgeoisie!”. Until then, all the portraits of NS Khrushchev, who were at the factories, were burned.

“Khrushchev is for meat!”
The authorities did not want to look punitive about the workers, but … its socioeconomic policies remained the same and led to a larger uprising and bloody suppression in Novocherkassk in early June 1962.

On June 1, at 10.00, about 200 workers in the steelworks of the Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Plant, one of the largest machine building enterprises of the USSR, ceased their work and demanded a reduction in production standards and an increase in the price of labor due to the rise in price of products and many other goods. At 11 o’clock, the 200 people went to the plant management, along the way to the workers of the other shops joined them. As a result, the plant management concentrated about 1000 people. Soon the director of the plant Kurochkin appeared.

Noticing the saleswoman of pies in the distance, he said disdainfully: “There is not enough money for meat – eat pies, at least with a liver. And enough demagoguery! ”

This mocking phrase aroused the indignant indignation of the workers, and the strike quickly swept the entire plant. The number of strikers reached 5000 people, they blocked the main railway line of the Rostov region. About 500 workers from state farms and collective farmers from the suburbs of Novocherkassk joined the demonstrators, who were dissatisfied with the reduction of homesteads, forced forcible removal of livestock and most of the poultry from personal farms in favor of the state, as well as higher production rates, higher prices for products and other goods.
Posters appeared: “Khrushchev – for meat!”, “Lies about Stalin Khrushchev will not help!”, “Down with the party bourgeoisie!”. Let us note that these slogans ideologically coincided with criticism by the then leadership of China of the internal and foreign policy of the USSR-CPSU. And when the photos appeared in Chinese (and Albanian) media with “Novocherkassk” slogans, the Soviet Foreign Ministry protested to the Chinese embassy, but it rejected this protest.

At 10 am on June 2 Khrushchev was reported about the situation in Novocherkassk, which in fact was under the control of the demonstrators. Khrushchev contacted the Rostov Regional Committee, Minister of Defense R.Ya. Malinovsky, the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the KGB, ordering all possible measures and quickly suppress the protests. The Minister of Defense gave the order, if necessary, to use the 18th Panzer Division of the North Caucasus Military District (SKVO).
In the evening of that day, protesters tore off Khrushchev’s large portrait from the facade of the factory building and set it on fire. After that, the demonstrators seized the plant management, announcing from its balcony the creation of the “Workers’ Council”, which would lead the plant. That is, like the system of workers’ self-government in the “Tito” Yugoslavia.

Events developed rapidly, acquiring the character of an uprising. By 22:00 on June 2, demonstrators, whose total number exceeded 5 thousand by that time, decided to seize the city’s central radio station and appeal to the whole country. Leaflets in defense of Stalin and the so-called “anti-party group” began to be unloaded around the city and its suburbs: Molotov, Malenkov, Kaganovich, Bulganin, Shepilov. And also – accusing Khrushchev and Khrushchevites of treason, the Party, and socialism. But on the night of 1 to 2 June, the city included 7 tanks and up to 600 soldiers and officers. And from negotiations with the protesters, both local authorities and Moscow members of the Mikoyan Central Committee, Kozlov, Shelepin, who had arrived from Moscow, refused. But the demonstrators outstripped the military and broke into the party’s hills.

The protesters from the balcony of this building and from the radio studio called to deal with “nomenklatura thieves and liars”, to seize weapons from the military, to notify the peoples of the USSR about what is happening.
And the military received an order to clear the building of the city committee and the square adjacent to it, and after warning volleys in the air began to shoot at the defeat. 45 patients were sent to Novocherkassk hospitals with gunshot wounds on June 2-4, but the wounded were at least twice as large. More than 60 demonstrators died and went missing in those days, about 250 were arrested and, in the majority, sentenced to long terms of exile or imprisonment. All the corpses of the dead were taken out of the city and buried in anonymous graves in different cemeteries in the Rostov region.

In autumn, a “closed” trial was held in Novocherkassk over the leaders and participants in the uprising. Seven of them – Alexander Zaitsev, Andrei Korkach, Mikhail Kuznetsov, Boris Mokrousov, Sergei Sotnikov, Vladimir Cherepanov and Vladimir Shuvaev – were sentenced to death and soon shot, the remaining 105 people received 10-15
In autumn, a “closed” trial was held in Novocherkassk over the leaders and participants in the uprising. Seven of them-Alexander Zaitsev, Andrei Korkach, Mikhail Kuznetsov, Boris Mokrousov, Sergei Sotnikov, Vladimir Cherepanov and Vladimir Shuvaev-were sentenced to death and soon shot, the remaining 105 people were sentenced to 10-15 years in high-security colonies. But, although in 1991-1995. All of them were rehabilitated, “symbolic”, let’s repeat, the Memory Stone in Novocherkassk and the vague inscription on it – a clear indication that the post-Soviet authorities are also not interested in the wide publicity of the events mentioned.

In this matter it is extremely important to note that the workers only protested against Khrushchev’s voluntaristic decisions, but fully supported the Soviet socialist system, later, of course, provocateurs appeared, but there were very few of them. In the highest party circles, a lot of people were extremely unhappy with Khrushchev’s policy, which led to his removal in 1964 and the party corrected many of Khrushchev’s individual decisions departing from socialist legality. But at the same time, it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that despite the populist decisions in the life of the country, the vile desecration and vulgarization of Stalin’s bright memory, Khrushchev built apartments, advanced science and much more. Yes, of course, this was a powerful reserve of Stalin’s heritage, but progress in many sectors was significant. Khrushchev, in spite of the negative that he did, introducing the first grain into the destruction of the socialist system, still can not be put on the same level as Gorbachev and Yeltsin, and this must be taken into account and always remember this.

Eternal memory to the workers-revolutionaries who fell in the class struggle against the social-imperialists!
Eternal disgrace to the enemies and traitors of the cause of the proletarian revolution, the affairs of Lenin and Stalin!