>>>Tuesday January 15, 1991
"Pull, pull!" The ropes tugged harder, and so the staues went down one by one. First Dzerzhinsky, then Frunze, then Marx, until finally reaching Lenin and Stalin. Most just had their plaques crowbarred off, but as if to add insult to injury one was replaced with a crude but discernible cast of Krasnov, Shkuro, Wrangel.
The Marxist-Leninists weren't happy but their opinion hadn’t mattered when they had won barely a tenth of the vote in all of Stavropol; surveys revealed that even this paltry vote was almost entirely to be a product of internal migration from elsewhere within the USSR. All other parties had to be content with single digits or less, the People's Collective Party having won more than eighty percent of the local vote. It was a good name of course, and an accurate one. But it also belied the full truth. It was the party of the Cossacks, the natives of the region. They of course had to operate within the framework of the CCCP, claiming to have the variant of socialism they followed owing to the ancient and democratic Cossack collectives. Socialism with Cossack characteristics! But to their electorate they made clear their disdain for the Marxist. When speaking on national television they of course explained that this was because the Russian people could not be forced to take on this strange Anglo-German brand socialism — this would be Imperialism! Why, weren’t those foreigners the very people who made fascism and now pursue the most hedonist and decadent forms of capitalism? But to their electorate they made clear they were the ones who would react. They were the ones who would melt the star into a cross and the hammer and sickle into a Cossack’s saber. They would be the ones who would make the Leninists and Stalinists pay for the de-Cossackization that so many in Moscow were eager to sweep under the rug. Today was just the beginning. The history books stamped by the Leningrad cretins would forget the indignities inflicted upon the Cossacks but the sons of the Don vowed they would not.
But they had acted too fast, they knew they had overestimated the discretion of their base. This wouldn't have mattered if not for the delicate timing. Today Spartak Leningrad had went up against Dynamo Stavropol, the more practiced Southerners taking the match 5-3 with a local referee making decisions that erred on the blatantly biased. The Spartak fans were angry and since their tickets to return home were largely only for the next day the football fans from the Marxist-Leninist core of the RSSR roamed the city very, very angrily. Then of course a delegation of students from different faculties had landed a few days earlier largely from Primorski Krai, the area being one of the most loyal to the main Communist party.
The success of the PCP had emboldened the locals leading to their little citizen initiative with the statues but it was not without opposition. Of the local enemies to the cause of the PCP there weren't many. Of them most were too afraid to do much knowing they had friends in every part of Stavropol from administration to police. To anybody with all the facts of the situation the outcome of the day would not be as surprising as it was to most of the Soviet Union and indeed the world at large.
Nobody could be sure who was the first to form what locals dubbed the “red mob”, and it likewise wasn’t quite clear who threw the first blow.. But as one the local red activists grouped together with the Primorski Krai students and the fans of the Spartak Leningrad football team at the sight of the old statues being brought down.
Some organized in smaller groups around the smaller monuments in the area, and these perhaps ironically had the best fate only being shoved about to clear the way for the destruction of history.
The largest of the happenings was along the administrative building, just outside where the regional party members convened. The people surrounding the Lenin monument were quite numerous and for some time they felt as invincible as they looked. Workers trying to get to the site were pushed back, but they were soon replaced with far more insistent comrades. The Dynamo Stavropol fans forgot their smugness over their football team’s victory over the nemesis when they saw this very same nemesis defending one of the greatest villains of their history.
The football hooligans would have been enough to simply beat back the people surrounding the statue, but when the rest of the local people came forth a riot consisting of two mobs fighting one another very slowly turned into a stampede. First the Priests came to support the locals, then members of the militia claiming to be “impartial” came forth from within the administrative building beating upon the people surrounding the monument.
The event only got more horrible as one of the Spartak fans shoved a youth in grade school down into the ground such that the child’s ear was scraped bloodily; an injury that would heal in a day, but to see one of their children bloodied by these folk from elsewhere roused the Cossacks. More violence yet came from the recognition of the Koryo-Saram and other Asian peoples amongst the Primorski Krai students. The Sino-Soviet split though now healed geopolitically, but its propagandistic impact was still in the minds of the people of Stavropol in particular who had lost much wealth during the great reduction of trade with China reducing demand for the agricultural machinery manufactured there. Particular cruelty was shown towards these Koreans and other students with bottles being first smashed to be vicious blades before being used to strike. Yes, these weren’t Chinese, but were not those people all friends and - when we got down to it - all the same?
The violence entered its fatal stage as fans of the Football Club of Yessentuki arrived. A smaller town and even more distant from the ideologues in Moscow and Leningrad they had suffered far more than the men of the capital at the hands of the people who’s incarnations they saw surrounding the great statue. They had a rivalry with Dynamo Stavropol but they were more than happy to make a truce to kick these fools off of their lands. Whereas the locals had only gone for the defenders of the statue with whatever was at hand like bottles and stones the FC Yessentuki fans and their friends came far more prepared with petrol bombs and clubs one man having even brought along a pistol according to some sources. Angry shouts turned to frightened and pained screams as great blood was drone and burning petrol hit flesh.
For the participants it may have seemed like an eternity but the whole even took less than half a day to be done. By the end there were more than two hundred with varying degrees of injury and nineteen dead, three of whom were locals. Of the injured nine would expire on the way to the hospital with a further two comatose. All after the statue went down and a new one was erected all the Stavropol natives ran like the winds as they realized the possible legal ramifications of the day, while for their part the OMON and other Militia members roused did not seem very enthusiastic in the chase that they gave to their local kinsmen instead reserving their strength to beat the visitors and arrest them for having “incited and participated in a violent riot.”
>>>The Moscow Kremlin
Premiere Anatoli Pavlenko closed the file, standing up to look outside the windows of the Kremlin. It was a theatrical gesture but he felt that for some reason the members of the Supreme Soviet assembled at the desk expected it of him. Behind him were arguing Tikhonov with Ryzhkov along with several other figures, and as a crescendo was reached of overlapping voices Anatoli once more sat down.
“What have you told the newspapers to say.”
“I have told them to be quiet Sir.” Ryzhkov said.
“Mmmmm. Have any acted out of line?”
“We rectified the few cases that have.”
The Premiere said a nasty word.
“Drop the muzzle order. Now!”
Anatoli wiped his brow, shaking his head.
“I take it our Eastern partners have by now heard of this news.”
“They haven’t said anything, but it is inevitable.”
“Tell the Stavropol militia if asked about the ethnicity of the victims to reply that they do not know.”
“It is just a few Koreans. Met a few of their kind with Brezhnev. It’s not a big deal Premiere, nobody will really care after a day passes.”
“Perhaps Councillor, perhaps. But if not for our Eastern partners abroad we need to at least look at what our comrades in Primorski will say.” the Premiere said, suppressing another nasty word in direction of Ryzhkov.
At this point Anatoli turned away from Ryzhkov wanting a… different opinion. “Mitrovich, any word from the East?”
“Errr, not quite. Some. The governor of Primorski went to us but the Koryo-Saram councils sent messages right to Stavropol demanding answers.”
“What was the reply?”
“A well written rendition of ‘fuck off’.”
“Of course it was. Can you deal with it?”
It took Mitrovich’s best efforts to not look flabbergasted at having been told to single-handedly prevent a simmering ethnic conflict spanning two continents.
“Good. What of the parties?”
“Most condemn today’s events but only a few are going against the PCP directly. For now anyway.”
Anatoli sighed, it was a better result than previously expected but not by much.
“We should crack down on the Stavropolites. The PCP needs to be put in its place my dear comrades.”
“No, it cannot. We cannot be seen taking away what we gave so recently. All the little parties say they want something to be done about Stavropol’s ‘insolence’ but the moment we do something they will all cry out in anger at us abusing our powers and our new oppression. Now then, if that is all let us go meet them.”
The assembled Soviet leadership left the meeting room and went down to meet the Congress of People’s Deputies still arguing amongst itself. At the portal to the auditorium one of the Clerks was waiting to open it for them to pass through, the little man sweating profoundly. “Is everything alright in there?”
“They’re fighting, Comrade Premiere.”
“Stavropol’s PCP representative, Nikolai Pavlovich.”
“With whom? What did he say?”
“With a lot of them.” The Clerk looked to a transcript he was typing on his computer, which after a moment he turned for the Premiere to view. The Premiere pushed it back after realizing it was a list of slurs, shaking his head. “Let’s go.” he said, repeating it a few times under his breath.
They opened the portal and went to their seats, keeping quiet as they listened to the argument between Stavropol’s Antonenko arguing with Moscow’s communist party deputy. They came in at the tail end of the conversation, but it did not bode well for the Union’s stability.
“A-ha-ha! Oh you little bitch you dare threaten me?” the Stavropol representative laughed without any humour. “If not for Stavropol you Marxist, Stalinist degenerates would be starving decades ago. After university I went right to work on the farm, when have you worked with the people? No you little worm you’re the bourgeoisie of the Soviet Union, and you dare cry these lies of the Cossacks not knowing socialism. Seventy years ago you tried to destroy our people. The Cossacks still stand, but everybody forgot about your Marx, Lenin and Stalin. But know, just like you tried to destroy us we will destroy you Leninist, but we will not fail.” By the time Anatoli had ascended the steps to his seat Nikolai Pavlovich had taken off his shoe and was moving over to strike the Moscow representative with it. The Premiere clasped his hands as security came and a different topic was broached. Being Premiere was different to his expectations. The sheer amount of delegation he was to do only gave him a feeling of powerlessness as the chilling words of Antonenko echoed in his head. These would be interesting times.