By Rosalind Marsh
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Additional info for History and Literature in Contemporary Russia
74 At the end of the play the Outsider is revealed to be Engels,75 thus emphasizing both Lenin's Marxist heritage and the impeccable Marxist-Leninist credentials of the current regime. The Years 1985-6 39 The most powerful witness for the prosecution in Shatrov's play is the revolutionary Pyotr Verkhovenskii, one of the main villains in Dostoevskii's novel The Devils, who declaims his famous monologue defining revolutionary socialism as equality for nine-tenths of the population achieved by enslaving them to an elite composed of the remaining one-tenth; the destruction of all genius and outstanding individual talents; the imposition of obedience through mutual suspicion, widespread denunciation and the removal of suspect individuals.
At the same time the polarization of the writers' community grew more intense, taking a particularly ugly form at the plenary meeting of the RSFSR Writers' Union in mid-November 1989, when the Union of Writers was accused of being a 'Zionist organization' (although at most a quarter of its members were Jewish, and all were writing in Russian). Another unpalatable incident occurred at an ApreV meeting at the Central House of Writers in Moscow on 18 January 1990, when a gang of men from the reactionary organization Pamyat' penetrated the hall to break up the proceedings, led by Konstantin SmirnovOstashvili, who shouted into a megaphone such remarks as 'JudaeoMasons' and 'Clear off to Israel'.
The respected scholar Dmitrii Likhachev underlined the vital significance of Abuladze's theme for Soviet literature and society as a whole: 'The past does not die. It is necessary to publish in journals of 36 History and Literature in Contemporary Russia mass circulation works which were not published in the past. '61 Less independent critics were, however, still careful to connect the director's advocacy of reassessment of the past with 'the truth that was taught by the Twenty-Seventh Congress'.