Soviet Justice in Bulgaria 1946

Soviet-justice arrives in Bulgaria: Bulgarian Communist leader and Komintern-apparatchik Georgi Dimitrov returns from Soviet exile. Andrei Vishinsky pays a visit to Bulgaria's new Communist rulers.

Prosecutor General of the USSR 1935-1939, Andrey Yanuaryevich Vishinsky was the legal mastermind of Stalin's Great Purge. One of the principles of Vyshinsky's theory was that criminal law is a tool of the "class struggle".

Monday, Oct. 06, 1947

Vishinsky Meets the Press

It was an old U.S. custom, but Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Y. Vishinsky had never tried it before. Last week, he summoned U.N. newsmen to a press conference at Lake Success. He had discovered the soft underbelly of democratic journalism. He had only to make any charge he wanted, or slander anyone he pleased, and U.S. newspapers would spread his words on Page One.

By the time he bounded into the U.N.'s roomy Security Council chamber, more than 300 reporters, delegates and hangers-on awaited him. Wearing a grey suit and a shiny celluloid collar, Vishinsky posed briefly for photographers. Then began a turbulent 2½-hour press conference. While the bored reporters squirmed, Vishinsky read a ten-page manuscript. Vishinsky's Russian was crisp and emphatic; he seemed annoyed at the interpreter's colorless, halting rendition. The statement was a fingerpointing, arm-waving rehash of his attack on U.S. "warmongers" (TIME, Sept. 29). This time, Vishinsky proposed that the "warmongers" should be jailed.

He also added three more candidates to his blacklist: upstate New York Press Lord Frank Gannett, onetime U.S. Ambassador to Russia William Bullitt, Columnist Walter Winchell. For Winchell, Vishinsky reserved his choicest invective: "The new American Baron Munchausen, famous . . . for his utterly absurd lies."

Suave or Shrill. Then, picking up a sheaf of questions submitted in advance by newsmen, he tackled them in a manner alternately suave, sarcastic and shrill.
Q. (by six U.N. correspondents): "Will the Soviet Union [agree] to curtail the use of the veto?"
A.: "I am astonished with this question. . . It needs no answer."
Q. (by the six): "If talks on atomic control and disarmament fail, what course will the Soviet Union take?"
A.: "The six correspondents are full of great pessimism. I do not wish to join their prophecy."
Inez v. Andrei. A few minutes later, with 20 written questions still to go, Vishinsky tried to break off. But Hearstling Inez Robb spoke up. Said she: "Isn't the Russian press comparison of Truman to Hitler a sample of intemperate warmongering?" Vishinsky stalled a minute: ". . . I should know the expressions the Soviet press used." Then, firmly: "Anyone who incites a new war is worthy of being compared to Hitler."
Inez kept after him: "Do you include Truman?"
A. (hastily): "I did not say that."
By then, other questioners were joining in. Asked one: "You charged Bullitt with warmongering. Do you think Stalin is guilty of warmongering in an inflammatory speech which is cited by Mr. Bullitt?"
A.: "I cannot answer. If I answered, I would be unpleasant to the questioner."
Inez Robb: "Is rudeness a one-way street in Russia?"
A.: "I always avoid rudeness. But when I hear rudeness addressed to me I answer twice or three times as rudely, notwithstanding sex. . . ."

Then Vishinsky picked up a handy gavel, rapped the desk and stomped out. Last week, the U.S. Government granted a visa to Pierre Courtade, to cover U.N. for the Paris Communist paper L'Humanité, but it attached strings. Courtade could not go anywhere in the U.S. except New York, could only write about the United Nations while here.
The U.S. was not borrowing from the totalitarian primer. Reporters of the Soviet agency Tass can still travel where they please in the U.S. The State Department was merely applying its immigration laws. Since the U.N. is an international no man's land, reporters accredited to it can come go there as they please. But beyond the bounds of U.N., U.S. immigration laws, which bar foreign Communists, still apply.
* Winchell to Vishinsky: "If the people of Russia knew the facts, you might be a defendant, instead of a prosecutor." Winchell accepted a sarcastic Vishinsky "invitation" to visit Russia, provided other U.S. newsmen could go along. Said he: "I wouldn't be able to lie ... with so many rivals present."