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Despite the atheistic ideals of the USSR, the Moscow show trials were far more permeated by the religious concept of confession than we think. Dr Iain Lauchlan on Soviet confession.

'This is not my defence,' said Nikolai Bukharin as The Party tried him for his life, 'this is my self-accusation'. He then produced a confession in some ways worthy of Isobel Gowdie the witch. It began with the standard demonology of communism - being in league with Trotsky, plotting from the very start to usurp power from Lenin. But then it soared into the realms of global conspiracy hatched by Fascists and Zionists in league with French, Japanese and British intelligence. Freemasons, Lawrence of Arabia and the tsarist secret police were even included in the plot. Why? What on earth was to be gained by this farrago? Dr Iain Lauchlan of Edinburgh University explores the Moscow show trials of 1938 and asks 'Whose confession were they really?

15 minutes

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