When in March 1953 was buried in Moscow Joseph Stalin, to say goodbye to him came about 2 million people. In the resulting crush killed, according to various estimates, from several hundred to several thousand. Information about the number of victims is still classified.

The grandmother of my wife at that time was 14 years old. She, too, went with two friends to the funeral, and in the end they miraculously managed to escape from the Madding crowd – soldiers that held back the masses, allowed the girls to quietly slip out the front of the line. Now she remembers about this episode, how about the second birthday party: the prospect of being buried simultaneously with the "leader of Nations" was quite real.

In her stories, for the funeral of Stalin were only a few out of idle curiosity, the vast majority of it truly idolized. And even people who have been through the GULAG wept violently, seeing in the last journey of his tormentor.

Gone is the man who decided everything for everyone. He created a vertical power structure and the repressive machine was killed in the literal and figurative sense of individuality, turning people into a manageable mass. The paradox is that many people liked it, because it was clear, in what direction to go and worship.

Poet and translator Roald Dobrovensky in childhood several times performed in front of Stalin as part of the children's choir at the Bolshoi theatre. "For us he was divine," he recalls. Even little growth and pockmarks disfigured the face of the leader could not spoil it is a powerful impression.

Only several decades later the poet was able to get rid of this "programmed" attitude to Stalin changed the picture of their perception from positive to negative. But for many of the "Kremlin Highlander" and remained the man who brought order in the country.

After the collapse of the USSR, the feeling of freedom has become for many a real shock. The system, previously defined, will live you, your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, collapsed, but a new reality has been very harsh: in the free world had to survive on their own. And with the freedom came a sense of loneliness and discomfort. Even 25 years later we are still learning how to manage it. It is a complex process – a road with a lot of dangerous temptations.

In conversation with foreign journalists I have said many times that I'm proud of the lack in Latvia serious problems with freedom of speech. Ten years ago it was. But in recent years I have increasingly begun to doubt.

After the referendum on the status of the Russian language – the authorities decided to tighten the law. The referendum was held in accordance with the Constitution, the people have made their choice, but deputies immediately decided to tighten the screws. Now a similar referendum in Latvia is unlikely to become possible. And society accepted it, since a large part of the population was dissatisfied with the conduct of such activities.

Stupid joke about Latvia's accession to Russia turned to its author the sentence of six months in prison. And many gladly accepted the court's decision because they did not like the political views of the convicted person.

Today intelligence agencies are lobbying the amendments to the Criminal law, which provide for penalties in the form of imprisonment for criticizing the state system and its officials. That is, if desired, even in view that a government official so-and-so is behaving badly, can be equated to attempting to overthrow the state system