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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Peter Fryer and Sam Russell

Peter Fryer was in Budapest during the Hungarian Uprising. Fryer, who was critical of the actions of the Soviet Union, found his reports in the Daily Worker were censored. Fryer responded by having the material published in the New Statesman. As a result he was suspended from the party for "publishing in the capitalist press attacks on the Communist Party." The loyal Sam Russell was now sent to the country to report on the uprising.

Sam Russell died last week. He worked for the Daily Worker during the Spanish Civil War and remained loyal during the purges. After the Second World War he became diplomatic correspondent of the Daily Worker. In 1952 he covered show-trial of Czechoslovakian Communist Party general secretary Rudolf Slansky and 13 other party leaders. At the time he considered the evidence as genuine but according to Roger Bagley it was an experience which "left a deep scar." Despite this Russell worked for the Daily Worker and its successor, the Morning Star, until his retirement in 1984.

The Morning Star has posted an obituary on its website. He does not talk about his pro-Soviet reporting instead it points out that:

In the 1970s he became increasingly critical of the Soviet model of socialism and by the 1990s he had turned into a fervent admirer of Tony Blair seeing him as a great leader of a supposed new leap forward for social democracy.

He also supported the destructive leadership faction in the Communist Party of Great Britain which was hell-bent on attacking the Morning Star in the mid-1980s. He backed the short-lived Democratic Left project which quickly morphed into a feeble think tank.

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