YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

THE FINAL CURTAIN : Footprints : Language

December 31, 1991

Some terms and images will forever be associated with the Soviet state. Some additions to the world's vocabulary: IRON CURTAIN: Popularized by Sir Winston Churchill during a speech in Fulton, Mo., on March 5, 1946, to describe Soviet military and political hegemony in Eastern Europe: "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent."

EAST BLOC: Eastern European countries dominated by the Soviet Union politically, economically and militarily--including Bulgaria, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

COMMISSAR: Term used until 1946, to describe a Communist official in charge of political indoctrination or enforcement of party loyalty or the head of a commissariat (a government ministry.)

APPARATCHIKI: The men and women of the party apparatus, especially those who have made a career out of being party functionaries.

STALINISM: The centralized, authoritarian and bureaucratic system of applying state power and Marxist-Leninist principles as a form of government, characterized by the rule of Josef Stalin.

GLASNOST (openness): President Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of promoting honest discussion of the country's problems.

PERESTROIKA (restructuring): Gorbachev's plan to revamp Soviet communism by uniting "socialism with democracy."

PRAVDA (Truth): Daily newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. First published in Vienna, 1908, first editor: Leon Trotsky.

IZVESTIA (News): Daily newspaper of the government of the Soviet Union. Established in 1905 by the first Soviet of Workers' Deputies in St. Petersburg.

Prior to glasnost , Soviet newspaper readers often complained: "There is no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia."

REFUSENIKS: Soviet citizens who wanted to emigrate but were denied permission to leave by the government.

POLITBURO: The main political and executive committee of the Communist Party, consisting of 10-14 members, who worked closely with the general secretary of the party in the daily running of the country.

KGB (Committee for State Security): Soviet secret police, responsible for a variety of security functions ranging from border patrol to international espionage.

COLD WAR: State of political, ideological and military competition between the United States and Soviet Union and their allies that began shortly after World War II and continued until 1991.

GULAG: The system of forced-labor camps created by the founder of the Soviet secret police Felix E. Dzerzhinsky in the 1920s and filled by Stalin in the 1930s with political prisoners.

Los Angeles Times Articles