Okay, this is what I was talking about. People outside the ex-USSR seem to have these misconceptions about how things were under Stalin.
For example my grandfather was a labour union leader who actually got attacked by fascists for being left-wing. However when Soviet Occupation came he was deemed a "threat" due to having been in a position of influence before, was sent to a gulag and then shot when he got pneumonia there.
The vast, vast majority of people persecuted did nothing wrong.
Softer is a relative term, I lived under the USSR in it's late stages (late 70's to 91) and I do not miss it one bit, for example I and my family got constantly harassed by the KGB due to the fact that my family members had resisted being deported to Siberia. Mind you, this was happening even in the 80's.
Because of this I for example wasn't allowed university entrance to where I wanted, got my food coupons taken away, had "random inspections" to our family home by the KGB to search for forbidden literature almost every month and so on and so on.
Although the so-to-say random inspections tapered off quite a bit, I mostly remember them in my childhood.
In addition the Soviet Union was absolutely the most corrupt, nepotist, and throughly nasty society I have ever lived in. This is coming from someone who lived in Ukraine from 1999-2004. It wasn't even that bad then.
For example every single shop-teller put aside/hid deficit goods (for example a good set of cutlery that didn't break after a few weeks, or a plate made of nice ceramic) and either sold it secretly to friends or for higher prices on the black market. If you wanted to go to the doctor you better have had a bottle of alcohol or some money with you if you wanted to get some care.
However good alcohol could only be bought from the "special stores", which were only available to high-ranking Communist party members. Who then raked in profits from selling those for sometimes 10x the price to lower-class people.
People still bought it due to needing it for bribes.
I am sorry if this is a bit long and off-topic I hope you don't mind.