Vyshinsky Quotes

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Vyshinsky: Why did you write the poem? Rostov: It demanded to be written. I simply happened to be sitting at the particular desk on the particular morning when it chose to make its demands.
Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow)
Vyshinsky: And you write poetry? Rostov: I have been known to fence with a quill.
Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow)
Andrei Yanuaryevich (one longs to blurt out, “Jaguaryevich”) Vyshinsky, availing himself of the most flexible dialectics (of a sort nowadays not permitted either Soviet citizens or electronic calculators, since to them yes is yes and no is no), pointed out in a report which became famous in certain circles that it is never possible for mortal men to establish absolute truth, but relative truth only. He then proceeded to a further step, which jurists of the last two thousand years had not been willing to take: that the truth established by interrogation and trial could not be absolute, but only, so to speak, relative. Therefore, when we sign a sentence ordering someone to be shot we can never be absolutely certain, but only approximately, in view of certain hypotheses, and in a certain sense, that we are punishing a guilty person. Thence arose the most practical conclusion: that it was useless to seek absolute evidence-for evidence is always relative-or unchallengeable witnesses-for they can say different things at different times. The proofs of guilt were relative, approximate, and the interrogator could find them, even when there was no evidence and no witness, without leaving his office, “basing his conclusions not only on his own intellect but also on his Party sensitivity, his moral forces” (in other words, the superiority of someone who has slept well, has been well fed, and has not been beaten up) “and on his character” (i.e., his willingness to apply cruelty!)… In only one respect did Vyshinsky fail to be consistent and retreat from dialectical logic: for some reason, the executioner’s bullet which he allowed was not relative but absolute…
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 (Abridged))
Vyshinsky: And your occupation?
Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow)
In 1934, at the January Plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of the Soviet Communist Party, the Great Leader (having already in mind, no doubt, how many he would soon have to do away with) declared that the withering away of the state (which had been awaited virtually from 1920 on) would arrive via, believe it or not, the maximum intensification of state power. This was so unexpectedly brilliant that it was not given to every little mind to grasp it, but Vyshinsky, ever the loyal apprentice, immediately picked it up: "And this means the maximum strengthening of corrective-labor institutions." Entry into socialism via the maximum strengthening of prisons! And this was not some satirical magazine cracking a joke, either, but was said by the Prosecutor General of the Soviet Union!
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books III-IV)
Vyshinsky: Why did you write the poem? Rosov: It demanded to be written. I simply happened to be sitting at the particular desk on the particular morning when it chose to make its demands. Vyshinksy: And where was that exactly? Rostov: In the south parlor at Idlehour. Vyshinksy: Idlehour? Rosov: The Rostov estate in Nizhny Novgorod. Vyshinksy: Ah, yes. Of course. How apt. But let us return our attention to your poem. Coming as it did-in the more subdued years after the failed revolt of 1905--many considered it a call to action. Would you agree with that assessment? Rosov: All poetry is a call to action.
Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow)