Great quotes! I'll get off this horse in a minute, but I have to add that I wasn't *just* talking about Stalin himself either. The "folk" groups you saw and heard were not the same as you would have seen and heard if you were there, without political officers present. Their repertoire had been ethnically cleansed, so to speak. An awful lot of Russian art, both pre- and post-communism, was and is about the misery of living there. I wouldn't try to read Dostoevsky or Solzhenitsin without some Prozac handy. The "folk" groups, while their members may have been fine artists, the groups themselves were puppets of a murderous state, I'm sure almost always against their sincere will. Personally they gave me the same feeling as Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, a silly fiction. There is certainly great Russian art, but the best was generally unavailable under Stalinism until it had been politically approved. In a somewhat different vein, this "journalist" Vladimir Posner that was the darling of American media at the end of the cold war was, for most of his career the primary master of ceremonies for a criminal state because, having grown up here as the son of a diplomat, his English is perfect. As he gets rich over here, has he ever expressed regret for his past?; Not that I know of. I like the description of the USSR regime being "state capitalism". Exactly.
Lest we forget, Chet