A Soviet-born University professor suggested Wednesday night that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was somewhat less than a victim in August's coup attempt. "Mr. Gorbachev prepared it. He orchestrated it," said Decision Sciences Professor Aron Katsenelinboigen. Katsenelinboigen suggested that Gorbachev surely would have been killed by the coup plotters if he had not taken part. Furthermore, he questioned the purpose of one of the plotters visiting Gorbachev on the third day of the coup. Katsenelinboigen, who lived in the Soviet Union for over 40 years, spoke at a 90-minute forum addressing the question "Did Gorbachev Mastermind the Coup?" at Bodek Lounge. Katsenelinboigen began his speech with a history lesson on Russian leadership. He said that for the past 700 years, Russia and the Soviet Union has been under totalitarian regime by two types of leaders -- forceful and flexible. Katsenelinboigen characterized Gorbachev as another totalitarian leader. "Mr. Gorbachev was and is a leader who tried to preserve . . . his own power by flexible methods," he said. Katsenelinboigen offered the 60 people in attendance a number of recent events that he claimed illustrate Gorbachev's tendency towards totalitarianism, among them the conflict in the Baltic republics this past January. The professor said that Gorbachev blamed the Lithuanians for the deaths of several citizens, and that this incident was a "very clear statement that [Gorbachev] supported right-wing methods." In the wake of the coup, Katsenelinboigen believes the future of the Soviet Union is bleak. "In spite of all the very interesting and liberal things, I'm very pessimistic [about] what will be the future," he said. According to Katsenelinboigen, the widespread belief that democracy is finally taking hold in the Soviet Union is unfounded. He said that the media exaggerated the participation of the masses in protests. Furthermore, Katsenelinboigen says that the existence of "semi-military groups and chauvinistic organizations" in the Soviet Union make the possibility of a Russian nationalist government much more likely than a democracy, though he added that he hopes that does not happen. He also said that the introduction of capitalism, while needed, would hurt the Soviet economy. "To introduce a market system is to bring unemployment," he said. Following the speech, College and Wharton junior Vladimir Bernstein, who is a resident of Moscow, disagreed with Katsenelinboigen, saying citizens did resist the takeover. "I was in Moscow [during the coup], and I saw a lot of people in the subway and bus stops who were strongly protesting the coup attempt who were ready to fight," Bernstein said. He was unsure, however, as to whether or not Gorbachev masterminded the coup. "He was very sincere after the coup," Bernstein commented, "But he is also a very bright politician." College senior John Bertland also disagreed with aspects of Katsenelinboigen's speech. "He certainly left out a lot of events regarding the military and what they did," Bertland said. "My personal reaction is . . . that he's right." Garg said. "The optimism [in this country] is dangerous and unfounded." Last night's forum was the first "Soviet Symposium" in a four part series. The second forum is titled "Collapse and Chaos . . . Toward Federated Freedom or Domestic Dictatorships?" It will take place October 7, at 7 p.m. in College Hall 200.Comments powered by Disqus
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