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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.

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