Changes in the Soviet government. G. Malenkov became the prime-minister. K. Voroshilov was appointed the chairman of Supreme Soviet. L. Beriya, whose name would be remembered for a very long time since then, became the minister of home affairs. This decision was taken one day before, forty minutes before Stalin's death.
Death of almost every dictator causes problems. With Stalin, it was a special case. For thirty years, he was the man who held in his hands the life of every Soviet citizen. Children grew up who were taught that Stalin is the pillar of the freedom of the working class all over the world, that he, with his godlike intelligence, foresees all problems and that using and developing the only true teaching of Marx and Lenin he steers forward, to the victory of communism in all the world. And so on, so on, so on.
On the other hand, they knew of the Black Marias that came at night. Many of them knew people who were sent to Gulag. But in spite of this, what they felt when they learned of the death of Stalin was not pure happiness.
I remember the death of Brezhnev, who ruled the USSR for less than twenty years. I grew up with him. He was always somewhere around: on TV, in newspapers, on radio. My feelings were mixed. I hoped for something new, for changes, but I was scared. I'm absolultely sure that the same sentiments prevailed among the Soviet people fifty six years ago.
Some of them expressed these feelings openly. The whistleblowers had a lot of work then. Below are some stories taken from their denunciations.
Unemployed F.Kosaurihin from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, being drunk, said that it was Zhukov, not Stalin, who won the war. He swore at Stalin and scanned anti-Sovet verses, while standing at a liquor store.
G.Briakhne, a carpenter from Tiraspol, came at work on 6 March singing a song. When the workers told him it was a day of mourning and he should not sing, he cursed and said that another chief will come to the place of the old one.
V.Lutsevich, a woman from Ashkhabad region, being drunk, said about Stalin's death that "it serves him right".
V.Sokolova, an old school teacher from Gorky region, retold the programs of Voice of America to other teachers, saying that Stalin was poisoned by his doctor. Besides, she was accused of "distorting the Soviet reality", when she said during a lesson in March 1952 that in 1928, during the construction of the paper mill, tools and engineers were brought from America.
S.Vasilyev, a railroad worker from Murmansk region, when he learned of Stalin's death, came to the foreman and said: "The chief has died. Now, we'll be free, and the kolkhozes will be disbanded and the land will be given to the peasants". On the 9 March, during the Stalin's funerals, he would joke with the girls standing nearby.
A.Ivanov, movie technician from Charjou in Turkmenista, being drunk, cried "For Stalin's death, hurrah!" during a show, when Stalin's face appeared on screen.
Prisoner B.Ustin said to the workers who were fastening Stalin's portrait on a wall on 6 March: "What the %^&$ you are hanging here..." Earlier, in 1952, he said that Stalin stole Lenin's works, that the country is not managed properly, that we need a war which was not finished in 1945 because of Stalin, that we have to finish with America, so our children would live in peace.
G.Nastasyuk, a kolkhoz worker from Moldavia, said on 6 March: "It would be great if not only Stalin, but all communists died in three days. Than there would be no kolkhozes". Earlier, he was reported to say that the kolkhoz workers are paupers, that in spring there'll be a war with America and the Soviet power will fall.
I don't know what happened to these people, but there's one more story. 18-years old Larisa Ogorinskaya, a schoolgirl from Lvov in Ukraine, during the mourning meeting said: "He deserved it!". She was beaten by her schoolmates, Gukov and Gladkih, right on spot. Later, for this note she was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Fortunately, very soon, on 17 June 1953, she was rehabilitated.
Boris Basov, medical worker from Kranoyarsk, being drunk, said in a pub: "Let him die, tens of other people can take his place". When someone else said: "These people won't be like him. Millions will mourn him", Basov replied: "Millions will celebrate his death!" He was detained and brought to police. He was sentenced to ten years in prison, but in April the sentence was changed to five years. Quite soon he was rehabilitated.