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Professor Traces Economic Problems to Stalin

May 7, 1987

MOSCOW (AP) _ A Soviet news agency published an interview Thursday that blamed Josef Stalin for many of the Soviet Union’s economic problems.

The criticism of Stalin was by Anatoly Butenko, a department head at the Institute of the Economy of the World Socialist System, in an interview with the official news agency Novosti. He said Stalin disregarded the teachings of Marx and Lenin and built a large bureaucracy.

Publication of the interview appeared to be another tactic by those who support the leadership of Mikhail S. Gorbachev to pinpoint the bureaucratic inertia that can slow Gorbachev’s reforms.

Stalin consolidated his power in the years after Lenin’s death in 1924, exterminated his opponents and shaped the Soviet system in much the way that it exists today. The dictator died in 1953, and the Soviet Union still is struggling to come to grips with his legacy.

Since taking over as Communist Party chief in 1985, Gorbachev has sought to promote faster economic growth by cutting through red tape, encouraging people to work harder and make better use of modern equipment.

He and his supporters repeatedly have blamed shortcomings on ″mistakes″ and ″negative tendencies″ during the 1970s and early 1980s when Leonid I. Brezhnev was in power.

But the interview with Butenko, printed in the newspaper Moskovskaya Pravda, traced the problems to Stalin’s rule during the 1930s and 1940s.

Criticizing Stalin for the system that he built may make it easier for Soviet officials to make more radical changes and rehabilitate Bolsheviks who opposed Stalin and were executed by him.

Stalin rejected Marx’s idea that government would wither away under communism and instead created a vast bureacracy subservient to him, Butenko said.

″Power was fully concentrated in the hands of the administrative- bureaucrati c apparatus created by him,″ Butenko said.

″From these positions the processes and repressions of the 1930s appear as the completion of the formation of Stalin’s power, which destroyed those who defended a system of management existing before establishment of the cult of personality,″ he said.

Although the problems were entrenched in the Soviet system for years, their effects only started to be felt strongly decades later - in the 1960s and 1970s, Butenko said.

He said the 20th Communist Party Congress in 1956, at which Nikita S. Khrushchev denounced Stalin, tried to overcome the Stalinist bureaucracy but in the end was overwhelmed. Khrushchev was disgraced and forced from power in 1964.

Bureaucracy still has the potential to slow down Gorbachev’s restructuring of Soviet society and even to defeat it, Butenko warned.

Gorbachev’s plans are said to face opposition especially among middle-level managers and government and party officials. Gorbachev said last month that he faces no political opposition but that there is resistance to his program as high as the Communist Party Central Committee.

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