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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

USSR collapse under attack

Why do Russian MPs want to put Gorbachev on trial?
15 April, 2014 - 11:13

Russian politicians seem to have spread their wings after the occupation of Crimea. As is known, Vladimir Putin believes that Ukraine’s secession from the USSR was “not very legitimate.” We also heard the odious Vladimir Zhirinovsky officially suggest that Poland, Hungary, and Rumania partition the territory of Ukraine. Now State Duma members are demanding that Mikhail Gorbachev be put on trial for his role in the collapse of the USSR.

According to Izvestia, representatives of various factions have prepared an interpellation to Prosecutor General Yury Chaika. They think prosecutors should check up on the events that occurred when the USSR was disintegrating. The MPs hope that the checkup will be followed by criminal cases, including one against the last Soviet leader.

Gorbachev himself said in an Interfax interview that the calls of some State Duma members were sheer nonsense and a personal publicity stunt. “They like it when they are spoken of and their names are mentioned, but this call is absolutely ill-considered and groundless from the angle of historical facts. That I am standing in someone’s way is proved by the fact that there have been several reports in the past 20 days that I am dead. These people have no conscience,” the ex-president said.

Why did the Russian MPs show this initiative? What does it mean? What would Gerhard Schroeder, who closely cooperated with the Kremlin for many years, say to this?



Viktor MIRONENKO, leading research associate, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences; historian; statesman and public figure of Russia and Ukraine:

“It is difficult for me to comment on these MPs, for I am a historian, not a psychoanalyst. I can call this nothing but stupidity. Essentially, Mikhail Gorbachev was a much needed person for the post-Soviet elite. They could always blame all their stupidities and sometimes even crimes, including destruction of a union state in which radical transformations were underway, on Gorbachev, and they were actively doing this. As that state’s leader, Gorbachev is formally responsible for everything. But he is not guilty of either the collapse of the USSR or, all the more so, of what happened later – robbery of the common heritage under the guise of privatization on an unprecedented scale. His accusers forget that not all the witnesses of what was really going on at the time are dead. For example, I am alive and ready to testify at any court and, first of all, the court of history that it is the Russian nomenklatura that bears the lion’s share of the blame for all this. I would also remind the honorable MPs that their predecessors at the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Republic almost unanimously (with seven voting against if I am not mistaken) voted for the dissolution of the USSR.

“Why are the honorable deputies having an acute phase now? I think this is partly connected with failure to implement a plan to establish the Eurasian community as a quasi-union. As is known, Ukraine refused to take part in this. This caused the Kremlin too much pain because it changes the scale of the project – without Ukraine, it is an Asian-European, rather than a Euro-Asian, union. The economic weight will also be entirely different.

“Russian MPs’ claims to Russia being the sole successor to the USSR are absolutely out of place. Whatever one may think, all the former constituent republics are successors to the Soviet Union. But the Soviet Union was different in different times. It is only Ukraine (and perhaps to some extent Georgia) that is today the successor of the Soviet Union in the perestroika era, when we sought a way out of the ideological, political, and economic deadlock. There is an absolutely different situation in the Baltic states, for they are now in the European Union, and the West always treated them as occupied territories rather than part of the USSR. But Ukraine, in its difficult and dramatic search of a way to the future as a free, democratic, and rule-of-law state, is successor to the perestroika-era Soviet Union.

“Which Soviet Union do these MPs consider themselves successors to? I don’t think they mean the Gorbachev-time Union. Their appeal is also a reaction of nostalgia. I don’t think it is justifiable. There may be different attitudes to the role of Mr. Gorbachev in our contemporary history, but he is one of the most prominent political figures associated with changes, disappointments, etc. All the more so that he is seriously ill today, and, even in just human terms, it is a caddish action that amply exposes not Gorbachev but the people who can do this kind of things.”


Andreas UMLAND, Candidate of Science in History and Political Science, associate professor at the Political Science Department of Kyiv Mohyla Academy:

“The way the Russian leadership is pursuing its foreign policy results from the economic situation in the country. The economy is heading for a slump. Putin is unable to solve the perpetual problem of corruption. In these conditions, he needs to find a new groundwork to legitimize his authoritarian regime. As the regime cannot be legitimized by way of free elections, he is searching for other options. Until recently, economic growth was the legitimization – social benefits, an economic success based on fuel price hikes. When this short-lived economic success fizzled, he began to seek other ways, such as confrontation with the West, the occupation of Crimea, and an aspiration to restore the Soviet Union.

“This is dangerous because it upsets not only the sovereignty of Ukraine, but also the entire architecture of the world order and security that emerged after the end of the Cold War. This also impairs the nuclear nonproliferation system. There was a well-known memorandum of 1994. The price of this change is high for Ukraine, Europe, and the whole world. I think the West will impose, after all, serious sanctions on Russia, which will have a very negative effect on Putin.

“As for Mr. Schroeder’s cooperation with the Russian leadership, I cannot justify such actions. In a way, it is corruption. When Mr. Schroeder was the chancellor, he paved the way for building the Nord Stream and when he abandoned politics, he became chair of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG. Now he supports Putin, as do other representatives of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. This may be also put down to the fact that people are afraid of a new war and want to improve relations with Russia. A part of German public opinion and politicians consider it necessary to hold negotiations with Russia, listen to it, and engage it in all the processes of Ukraine’s integration into Europe in order not to vex it. On the other hand, this conciliatory position is only inciting Russia to confrontation.”

By Ivan KAPSAMUN, The Day