The Rise and Fall of the Latvian National Communists
It is easy for the Soviet Union to speak for the elimination of the colonial regime, since the Soviet Union has no colonies.
The World’s Newest Colonies are in Russia—Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia.
—Earl of Home, British Foreign Secretary
The Importance of Legitimacy
IT WOULD SEEM that the Latvian national communists won the battles, but lost the war. In this struggle of Soviet power politics, Pelše carried the day. However, the conflict had a second front: a war of image and perception. Thus, July 1959 represents only a single struggle in a larger war of legitimacy in which Berklavs had just joined the battle. In the June 1959 session of the CPSU CC, Khrushchev feared the Latvian instigators might use a purge as a pretext for rebellion, and he also worried that it would spoil the image of Soviet unity.1 The first concern never materialized in 1959, but the purge did encourage a perception that Latvia was subjected to the rigid control of Moscow, which infuriated Khrushchev. According to Kruminš when he, ← 129 | 130 → Pelše, and Kalnberzinš met with the premier in November 1959, the Soviet leader fumed: “instead of formal conversation, you made a ruckus in the world.”2 In such a fragile and illegitimate union, Berklavs and the national communists were potentially more powerful outside the system as deposed martyrs than they had been working within the system for limited gains.
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