Russian playwright, screenwriter and author Edvard Radzinsky has written more than 40 history books, including a series dedicated to the lead up to and aftermath of the 1917 revolutions.
On the centenary of the Bolshevik Uprising, Radzinsky spoke to euronews about revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin and the impact the coup had on modern politics.
Galina Polonskaya, euronews
“How can you explain the successful rise to power of Lenin, who spent a lot of time outside Russia? In that period there was no Internet. How did he manage? “
Edvard Radzinsky, author
“He was a man with a mix of will, fanaticism and ideas. He believed that, right after the revolution, socialism would peer out at people from all windows. This is a fanatic with an idea.
“Lenin, who believed in the victory of the socialist revolution, understood what Engels wrote about. He, who hated bureaucracy, understood that he was surrounded by the new party bureaucracy. He’d never even managed an estate and all of a sudden he was in charge of a country. Then there was that despicable, furious and continual cry of “shoot them down”. He didn’t know anything else, which was why he shouted. And the end was terrifying. His ideas collapsed. All great revolutionaries who celebrated the assumption of power in St Petersburg would have to face the law of revolution.
“Speaking from the executioner’s block, French revolutionary Vergniaud said that revolution, like the ancient God Saturn, devours its own children. And he added: “Beware, the Gods are thirsty!” But Vladimir Lenin, for some reason, thought it wouldn’t affect him or his followers. But within 20 years all of his men – not Lenin himself, as he died – but the rest had to face the courts. And, to make it clear that this was the law of revolution and that history likes a joke, they were judged on the 20th anniversary of the revolution.”
“Polls suggest most Russians don’t like the idea of a revolution. Is it a sign they’ve learnt from past events?”
“It’s a unique case. In 70 years, there’ve been three different models.
“First Imperial rule, then the Bolsheviks, and finally the modern day. And they weren’t simple changes. Each time, the previous period was declared a mistake, at least initially. Of course, you get tired of this nightmare. And the protagonists change, too.
“Karamzin wrote that he couldn’t understand why people did not overthrow Ivan The Terrible. Yet today, there are monuments dedicated to him. Because he was, quite simply, a very successful manager. We have plenty of successful managers nowadays. But the reality, I repeat, is changing all the time. Values are changing and our people understand that they have exhausted the limit of revolutions.”