Shoot to Kill

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Imagine you are a Soviet citizen who works in a locomotive building plant day in and day out, just to make ends meet. You work hard to provide for your family and to provide food on the table so that your children are able to eat. For the last ten years, the economy has been pretty stable and steady. However, you get news that the government just increased prices for meat and dairy products. You turn to the director and demand answers as to why this is happening because it is almost impossible to provide for your family with food. His response, “If you can’t afford meat pies, eat something cheaper.” Let’s be real, how pissed off would you be? Probably so mad that you would go on strike in order to show your frustration, right? Are you still imagining it? Okay, good. Now imagine bodies laying in the streets after a protest erupted in violence and gun shots were fired at citizens involved in these protests.

June 1, 1962 completely changed Soviet history when the Soviet Army used deadly force against protesters. Due to food shortages and provisions, workers united together in order to strike against government sanctions. “Several thousand workers from the Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Works (NEVZ) and supporters marched to the Communist Party’s headquarters in the center of the city to protest nation-wide price increases for meat and dairy products that had been announced two days earlier.” Instead of being heard, the workers were being taken advantage of and not being taken serious. As a result of frustration, the workers took to the streets to march and protest the city Party committee, carrying red banners and portraits of Lenin. However, the results of this protests became extremely violent and bloody.

Since active speakers were arrested and an army called into town, tensions started rising and becoming more hostile within the city limits. “The people demanded the release of the workers arrested that morning. Pushing on the doors to the building, the crowd eventually broke through and poured into the building. Suddenly shots rang out, and everyone turned back. Panic broke out on the square as people tried to escape the tanks and machine-gun fire.” As a result, twenty four people were killed and thirty were injured. The worst part? The government tried to hide the truth about what happened on this day for about twenty six or so years. The truth slowly came out about this event and I just don’t understand how something this bloody could go on for years as a secret.  I get with the amount of power the government had with news filters and what not, but it’s something that I feel like could get international attention in a matter of a day or so because of the innocent lives that were taken.



9 thoughts on “Shoot to Kill

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  1. This event was pretty similar to the Russian people protesting and going to Nicholas II’s winter palace in the early 20th century. There’s just something about Russian leaders who hate protests. I liked your post and think you did a great job setting it up and setting the scene for the massacre. Did you find any reasoning for why this event stayed hidden for so long or any evidence that some Russians knew about it?


  2. I like the way you caused your readers to place themselves in the shoes of people during this time in Soviet Russia. It definitely helped me feel the gravity of the protests and massacres. I’m honestly not surprised that the government tried to hide what happened that day, because I feel like time and time again we have learned that the Soviet government has tried to cover its tracks and hide horrendous events from the international eye. It is also interesting to think about protests in different states throughout history, how some were similar, and how others were quite different. Good post!

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  3. It’s sad how often this happens in Russia. The government seems very back and forth to me. I can see why they would want to maintain a certain image and keep control over people to a degree, but for a country trying so hard to be recognized as modern, it treated these people barbarically. Good job shedding some light on an upsetting, and probably forgotten topic.


  4. It really is incredible how they were able to keep the public in the dark about such a large scale revolt and death toll. It reminds me of the Kronstadt rebellion and the attempts of the government to conceal what had occurred there as well. Certainly it must have been easier to conceal the truth in a time before mass media, but the continued effort to preserve the image of the USSR as serving the people, even in the face of such violence is interesting. Great post!

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  5. Like Katelyn, I really appreciated how you invited the reader to put themselves in the position of someone who decided to protest in a situation where protests weren’t really allowed. You touch on a lot of important issues here and the articles you found on the Current Digest are really cool. Two things that stand out for me are, first of all, that Khrushchev had acknowledged consumer expectations for a better quality of life, and when that came back to bite the regime when they raised prices on staple food items without raising wages. The other striking aspect of Novocherkassk is that the fact that it happened was concealed for so long. It’s true that this was much easier to accomplish before the internet and world Wide Web made it so easy for anyone to spread the word globally in an instant. And the fact that the massacre happened far from the capital cities helped as well. But still. It’s pretty remarkable.


  6. Anytime a state has used deadly force on its own civilians during a time of protests, the states government will be heavily questioned. I like how you questioned the fact that this was somehow not internationally recognized with the significant loss of life. It is hard to imagine bloodshed like this going somewhat unnoticed nationally and internationally in today’s world. Great post!


  7. I too find it hard to believe that such a bloody day that impacted so many people went unheard of for over twenty years. It leads you to believe what other things could be hidden! I also really like the way you grabbed the attention of the reader in your first paragraph. Nice post!


  8. Awesome post! Like the others said, I loved your spin on narrating the event. I makes the reader relate better to the content– it kept me happily reading until the very end! Where was this protest exactly? I bet that this wasn’t the only strike that was carried out countrywide or covered up at the time. Imagine if subsidized prices the US Government has on staple foods just went up one day to the point where people were unable to purchase them with a full-time salary. I bet there would be entire states awry!


  9. Great post! Very interesting! You’re right, it’s surprising that the US didn’t get involved as this is very much a humanitarian crisis. It seems that Russia (USSR) has a bad history of deadly government force. I am also in a class focusing specifically on the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881. Looking at the history of the assassins (The People’s Will) the movement morphed into terrorism only after being met with extreme force by the government.


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