The award by in The Queen’s Birthday list of a CMG to Oleg Gordievsky recalled our reference to him in a column, “Australia’s second republican movement-the inspiration,” published on 9 June 2006. We had pointed out there that Australia’s second republican movement was for long subsidized and under the instructions of the Soviet Union. Without the Soviet Union it would have been impoverished and directionless. It is unlikely that it would have been able to occupy the positions of significance it did in the trade union movement and in political life.
We said that it would be interesting to speculate what would have happened in Russia had not the German High Command smuggled Lenin in a sealed train into Russia with the intention of weakening and neutralizing the Russian Government. When the Bolsheviks eventually siezed power, it could not have been said that they had a popular mandate. But with power, they were able to change Russia. Had they not come into power, there would have been no significant Communist Party of Australia, and no second republican movement.
We asked how did the Tsarist system compare with the subsequent Soviet regime? Were the Soviet republics, as we were constantly told, a great improvement? It was at this point that we quoted Oleg Gordievsky, one of the highest-ranking and most valuable KGB defectors. He was a Colonel of the KGB, and the bureau’s rezidentura in London, but became disillusioned with the Soviet system. He defected to the United Kingdom in 1985.
In a letter to The Independent on July 21, 1998 he wrote:
“Russia under Nicholas II, with all the survivals of feudalism, had opposition political parties, independent trade unions and newspapers, a rather radical parliament and a modern legal system. Its agriculture was on the level of the USA, with industry rapidly approaching the Western European level. [In contrast] in the USSR there was total tyranny, no political liberties and practically no human rights. Its economy was not viable; agriculture was destroyed. The terror against the population reached a scope unprecedented in [human] history.No wonder many Russians look back at Tsarist Russia as a paradise lost.”
We asked readers to imagine what our second republican movement could have done with Australia.