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¿Cuál fue el propósito del referéndum de 1991 sobre el futuro de la Unión Soviética?

¿Cuál fue el propósito del referéndum de 1991 sobre el futuro de la Unión Soviética?



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En 1991, la Unión Soviética celebró un referéndum sobre su futura estructura política. Los resultados de ese referéndum se presentan en esta infografía, o aquí.

¿Cuál fue el propósito de este referéndum? ¿Fue este referéndum sobre la continuación del gobierno por parte del partido comunista? Si hubo una respuesta tan positiva a las preguntas, ¿por qué se disolvió la Unión Soviética de todos modos?


(Esta respuesta estaba originalmente aquí: / a / 32715/1569)

En breve

El referéndum fue no sobre "el gobierno continuo por parte del partido comunista" porque cuando se llevó a cabo el referéndum, el partido comunista ya había abdicado efectivamente de su poder; el tren ciertamente se había ido ese estación para entonces.

Lo que sí mostró el referéndum fue que la mayoría del pueblo soviético estaba a favor de retener un estado federal. con un sistema de gobierno no especificado en lugar de dividirlo para crear una serie de países independientes más pequeños, como finalmente había sucedido en la realidad.

El fin del gobierno comunista en la URSS

El partido comunista (PCUS) dirigió el estado soviético desde sus inicios. Esto se reconoció formalmente en el artículo 6 de la constitución soviética de 1977 (la constitución anterior de 1936 también tenía un artículo similar, por supuesto). Pero durante la perestroika las riendas del poder empezaron a escaparse de las garras del partido y el 14 de marzo de 1990 este artículo fue enmendado a partir de la clara declaración de la supremacía comunista:

La fuerza conductora y rectora de la sociedad soviética y el núcleo de su sistema político, de todas las organizaciones estatales y organizaciones públicas, es el Partido Comunista de la Unión Soviética […] El Partido Comunista […] determina las perspectivas generales del desarrollo de la sociedad y el rumbo de la política interior y exterior de la URSS […]

a la perogrullada desdentada:

El Partido Comunista de la Unión Soviética, otros partidos políticos, así como organizaciones sindicales, juveniles y otras organizaciones públicas y movimientos de masas […] participan en la formulación de políticas del estado soviético […]

No se trataba de una nimiedad: era la principal exigencia del movimiento de oposición democrática recién formado y el cedimiento de Gorbachov a él era una clara indicación de que el control del poder por parte del partido se había roto de hecho.

De hecho, el mismo proyecto de ley que abolió el monopolio del poder del partido introdujo el nuevo cargo de presidente de la URSS, que ocuparía Gorbachov, que necesitaba urgentemente un nuevo cargo. Claramente, ser simplemente secretario general del PCUS ya no era suficiente para imponer una obediencia total.

La pregunta del referéndum: otra mirada

Si ahora vuelve a leer la pregunta del referéndum, ¡encontrará que no menciona en absoluto al PCUS o al comunismo! Más bien, dice:

¿Considera necesario preservar la Unión de Repúblicas Socialistas Soviéticas como una federación renovada de repúblicas soberanas iguales, que garantizará plenamente los derechos y libertades de todas las nacionalidades?

Otro hecho revelador es que si uno lee atentamente la página wiki sobre el referéndum, resulta que originalmente había 5 preguntas planeadas, en lugar de una. Las preguntas 2 y 3 debían referirse a la preservación, respectivamente, del sistema socialista y de los soviets. Sin embargo, todas las preguntas adicionales se eliminaron de la votación final. Probablemente porque los organizadores sintieron que no podrían asegurarles una mayoría.

La lucha por preservar el estado federal

Durante 1990 y 1991, el estado soviético entró en modo de implosión. Las rivalidades étnicas reprimidas durante mucho tiempo se convirtieron en violencia, pogromos y guerras abiertas. El liderazgo federal, que ya no estaba seguro de sí mismo, intentó una represión a medias y luego, cuando las cosas se pusieron feas, renegó de sus propias medidas represivas, culpando a los comandantes del ejército local. Esto le costó su crédito con el ejército y la policía.

Las élites regionales ahora sintieron la debilidad en nombre del gobierno central y vieron una oportunidad para afirmarse. Así, durante 1990 muchas repúblicas de la URSS se separaron o afirmaron su "soberanía", encontrándose en desacuerdo con las autoridades centrales. ¿Qué leyes iban a tener prioridad ahora? ¿Los federales o los republicanos?

Gorbachov, un político bastante astuto, vio lo que estaba pasando, vio que el viejo sistema soviético ya no podía salvarse y dio un paso razonable: invitó a las repúblicas que no se han separado (9 de 15) a negociar un nuevo pacto federal. . En efecto, la Unión Soviética iba a ser reemplazada por una nueva creación, la Unión de Estados Soberanos.

El referéndum fue un movimiento político de Gorbachov para apuntalar el apoyo al centro federal frente a las repúblicas y aprovecharlo para ganar más poder durante las negociaciones para la redacción del USS. Probablemente logró su propósito.

En el caso, el nuevo pacto federal iba a ser firmado el 20 de agosto de 1991. Un día antes, el 19 de agosto, un grupo de fanfarrones comunistas en el gobierno de Gorbachov intentó hacer retroceder el reloj con su infame golpe fallido. Posteriormente, tanto la reputación política de Gorbachov como la idea de una federación sufrieron tal impacto que el hundimiento final en diciembre de 1991 fue casi inevitable.


La pregunta en el referéndum no tenía nada que ver con el Partido Comunista. Se trataba de la preservación de la Unión de 15 repúblicas. La unión fue creada en 1922, con la disposición de que las repúblicas (que se unieron voluntariamente) tenían derecho a salir. La mayoría votó para preservar la unión. Pero eventos posteriores en el mismo año llevaron a su disolución (ver artículo de Wikipedia Disolución de la Unión Soviética).


El referéndum no se trató de la continuación del gobierno del Partido Comunista. Gorbachov iba a marginar el partido de todos modos. El referéndum no tenía la opción de "mantener el statu quo". Tenía dos opciones: destruir la URSS rápidamente o destruir la URSS lentamente (transformándola en una confederación perdida como quería Gorbachov).

Gorbachov planeaba reemplazar la URSS por la Unión de Estados Soberanos, y este referéndum debería legitimarla. Gorbachov utilizaría cualquiera de los dos resultados. Si la gente votaba para mantener la URSS en forma renovada, él argumentaría que la URSS era la URSS renovada. Si la gente votaba a favor de la disolución, él argumentaría que la URSS no es lo mismo que la URSS.

La URSS fue destruida contra la voluntad del pueblo.


Otros abordaron otros aspectos de la pregunta, por lo que me centraré en

Si hubo una respuesta tan positiva a las preguntas, ¿por qué se disolvió la Unión Soviética de todos modos?

Primero, la pregunta única se formuló para constar de 4 partes:

  1. ¿Quieres preservar la Unión?
  2. ¿Quieres que la unión se conserve como Federación?
  3. ¿Quiere que los súbditos federales sean iguales y soberanos?
  4. ¿Quiere igualdad de derechos para personas de todas las etnias?

Tenga en cuenta que 2 y 3 son mutuamente excluyentes.

Para votar, había que tachar (!) La respuesta que no les gustaba. Por lo tanto, si vota "sí", debe tachar "no".

Entonces, era básicamente una situación de "ya has dejado de golpear a tu esposa todas las mañanas".

Segundo, muchas repúblicas no celebraron la votación. IOW, decir que "la respuesta fue positiva" es como decir que "4 lobos y una oveja decidieron democráticamente qué hay para cenar": los rusos votaron para preservar su imperio mientras (algunas de) sus colonias intentaron no participar en la votación.

nótese bien: A los apologistas les encanta ubicar las estadísticas oficiales de que todas las repúblicas votaron "Sí". Esto podría ser cierto, porque en la mayoría de las repúblicas (Bálticos, Transcaucasia, Ucrania) solo votó una pequeña fracción de la población. Para ampliar la analogía del párrafo anterior, "4 lobos y una oveja votaron en la cena, mientras que 6 ovejas más ignoraron el voto". Esto, por supuesto, es cuestionado por los apologistas que ubican las estadísticas oficiales soviéticas, las mismas estadísticas que nos trajeron tasas de participación del 100% durante décadas y alcanzaron el 146% recientemente.

Finalmente, La Unión Soviética lo hizo no romper (como en "desaparecer"). El Imperio Ruso perdió algunas colonias, pero no todas, pero todavía está allí, y ahora está hablando abiertamente de reunirlas de nuevo en el redil.


¿Cuál fue el propósito de este referéndum?

El partido pro-URSS quería fortalecer su posición. La futura ruptura era casi inminente, pero tenían la esperanza de detener esto.

¿Fue este referéndum sobre la continuación del gobierno por parte del partido comunista?

No. Aunque si la URSS hubiera sobrevivido, el partido comunista posiblemente podría continuar gobernando.

Si hubo una respuesta tan positiva a las preguntas, ¿por qué se disolvió la Unión Soviética de todos modos?

La opinión de la gente tuvo un pequeño impacto en la vida política. La mayor pérdida para la URSS fue el propio Gorbachov. No hizo nada para evitar una ruptura. Y el partido pro-URSS no podía simplemente haberlo echado.

En un golpe de Estado mencionado de 1991, primero intentaron hacer un trato con Gorbachov, no solo para arrestarlo o algo así. Esperaban ponerlo bajo su influencia y usar su posición para derrotar a la oposición. Pero ese plan fue bastante tonto y, por supuesto, no funcionó. Esa fue la razón por la que no todas las políticas favorables a la URSS los apoyaron.

Y después de que el intento fracasara, la URSS estaba condenada. Yeltsin y otros simplemente lo hicieron estallar sin prestar atención al referéndum anterior.


La URSS dejó de existir por motivos económicos, políticos e ideológicos objetivos, que se fueron acumulando durante muchos años (al menos desde finales de los 70).

Entonces, por supuesto, ningún referéndum podría detener la decadencia objetiva del sistema.


¿Cuál fue el propósito del referéndum de 1991 sobre el futuro de la Unión Soviética? - Historia

Politicano incita a la nostalgia soviética con una foto manipuladora que muestra una manifestación de 1991

El 24 de julio, una página de Facebook, Politicano, publicó una foto, acompañada de una descripción que decía que mostraba la mayor manifestación exigiendo la preservación de la URSS en Moscú, el 10 de marzo de 1991.

La foto publicada por Politicano está editada y contiene secciones clonadas. La foto original fue tomada por un fotógrafo de Associate Press, Dominique Mollard, y muestra una manifestación masiva celebrada en la Plaza Manezh en Moscú, el 10 de marzo de 1991. Un partido político - Rusia Democrática, así como la Asociación de Votantes de Moscú y la Sociedad Conmemorativa fueron entre los organizadores de la manifestación. Las principales demandas de la manifestación incluyeron la renuncia de Mikhail Gorbachev, el apoyo a Boris Yeltsin y una participación activa en el referéndum que decidiría el futuro de la Unión Soviética. Hasta 500 mil personas asistieron a la manifestación. Fue una de las protestas masivas más grandes durante el régimen comunista de 73 años. El referéndum sobre el futuro de la URSS se llevó a cabo el 17 de marzo, donde el 76% de los votantes apoyó la preservación de la URSS.

La foto editada ha sido descubierta por los lectores de The Atlantic, que, a su vez, está vinculada a otra manifestación.

El 4 de febrero de 2012, decenas de miles de personas salieron en -19 grados, exigiendo la renuncia del presidente de Rusia, Vladimir Putin. Las fotos de la manifestación se difundieron activamente en Facebook, Tumblr y otras plataformas. La foto utilizada por Politicano fue una de las que se utilizaron engañosamente para mostrar la manifestación de 2012. Varios lectores, que notaron las secciones clonadas, se pusieron en contacto con The Atlantic.


Fotos: El Atlántico

Con el propósito de verificar la autenticidad de la foto, The Atlantic se puso en contacto con una agencia de información Associated Press, donde, tras una breve investigación, se confirmó que la foto fue editada con el objetivo de eliminar el efecto destello de la lente. Associated Press declaró que dicha edición de fotografías iba en contra de sus valores y principios. Más tarde, Associated Press eliminó la versión editada de la foto en sus archivos y la reemplazó por la sin editar.


Foto: La foto, tomada por el fotógrafo de Associate Press, Dominique Mollard. Versión sin editar


La era de Gorbachov: perestroika y glasnost

Cuando Brezhnev murió en 1982, la mayoría de los grupos de élite comprendieron que la economía soviética estaba en problemas. Debido a la senilidad, Brezhnev no había tenido el control efectivo del país durante sus últimos años, y Kosygin había muerto en 1980. El Politburó estaba dominado por ancianos, y eran abrumadoramente rusos. La representación no rusa en la cima del partido y el gobierno había disminuido con el tiempo. Yury V. Andropov y luego Konstantin Chernenko dirigieron el país desde 1982 hasta 1985, pero sus administraciones no lograron abordar problemas críticos. Andropov creía que el estancamiento económico podría remediarse con una mayor disciplina de los trabajadores y tomando medidas enérgicas contra la corrupción. No considera que la estructura del sistema económico soviético en sí sea una causa de los crecientes problemas económicos del país.

Cuando Gorbachov se convirtió en jefe del Partido Comunista en 1985, lanzó perestroika ("reestructuración"). Su equipo era más ruso que el de sus predecesores. Parece que inicialmente incluso Gorbachov creía que la estructura económica básica de la U.R.S.S. era sólida y, por lo tanto, solo se necesitaban reformas menores. Por lo tanto, siguió una política económica que tenía como objetivo aumentar el crecimiento económico al tiempo que aumentaba la inversión de capital. La inversión de capital tenía por objeto mejorar la base tecnológica de la economía soviética y promover ciertos cambios económicos estructurales. Su objetivo era bastante claro: poner a la Unión Soviética a la par económicamente con Occidente. Este había sido un objetivo de los líderes rusos desde que Pedro el Grande desató la primera gran ola de modernización y occidentalización. Sin embargo, después de dos años, Gorbachov llegó a la conclusión de que eran necesarios cambios estructurales más profundos. En 1987-88 impulsó reformas que iban menos de la mitad del camino hacia la creación de un sistema de mercado semi-libre. Las consecuencias de esta forma de economía semi-mixta con las contradicciones de las reformas mismas trajeron el caos económico al país y una gran impopularidad a Gorbachov. Los economistas radicales de Gorbachov, encabezados por Grigory A. Yavlinsky, le aconsejaron que el éxito al estilo occidental requería una verdadera economía de mercado. Gorbachov, sin embargo, nunca logró dar el salto de la economía dirigida a una economía mixta.

Lanzamiento de Gorbachov glasnost ("Apertura") como el segundo pilar fundamental de sus esfuerzos de reforma. Creía que la apertura del sistema político, esencialmente democratizándolo, era la única forma de superar la inercia del aparato político y burocrático, que tenía un gran interés en mantener el statu quo. Además, creía que el camino hacia la recuperación económica y social requería la inclusión de las personas en el proceso político. La Glasnost también permitió a los medios de comunicación más libertad de expresión y comenzaron a aparecer editoriales que se quejaban de las condiciones deprimidas y de la incapacidad del gobierno para corregirlas.

A medida que la situación económica y política comenzó a deteriorarse, Gorbachov concentró sus energías en aumentar su autoridad (es decir, su capacidad para tomar decisiones). Sin embargo, no desarrolló el poder para implementar estas decisiones. Se convirtió en un dictador constitucional, pero solo en el papel. Sus políticas simplemente no se pusieron en práctica. Cuando asumió el cargo, Yegor Ligachev fue nombrado jefe del Secretariado del Comité Central del partido, uno de los dos principales centros de poder (con el Politburó) en la Unión Soviética. Posteriormente, Ligachev se convirtió en uno de los oponentes de Gorbachov, lo que dificultó que Gorbachov utilizara el aparato del partido para implementar sus puntos de vista sobre la perestroika.

Para el verano de 1988, sin embargo, Gorbachov se había vuelto lo suficientemente fuerte como para castrar el Secretariado del Comité Central y sacar al partido del funcionamiento diario de la economía. Esta responsabilidad pasaría a los soviets locales. En la primavera de 1989 se convocó un nuevo parlamento, el Congreso de los Diputados del Pueblo, presidido por Gorbachov. El nuevo organismo reemplazó al Soviet Supremo como el máximo órgano del poder estatal. El Congreso eligió un nuevo Soviet Supremo y Gorbachov, que había optado por una presidencia ejecutiva inspirada en los sistemas de Estados Unidos y Francia, se convirtió en el presidente soviético, con amplios poderes. Esto significó que todas las repúblicas, incluida ante todo Rusia, podrían tener un tipo similar de presidencia. Además, Gorbachov cambió radicalmente la vida política soviética cuando eliminó el artículo constitucional según el cual la única organización política legal era el Partido Comunista de la Unión Soviética.

Gorbachov entendió que la carga de la defensa, quizás equivalente al 25 por ciento del producto nacional bruto, estaba paralizando al país. Esto había provocado recortes en los gastos en educación, servicios sociales y atención médica, lo que perjudicó la legitimidad interna del régimen. Además, los enormes gastos de defensa que caracterizaron los años de la Guerra Fría fueron una de las causas del declive económico soviético. Por tanto, Gorbachov transformó la política exterior soviética. Viajó mucho al extranjero y tuvo un éxito brillante al convencer a los extranjeros de que la U.R.S.S. ya no era una amenaza internacional. Sus cambios en la política exterior llevaron a la democratización de Europa del Este y al final de la Guerra Fría. Por otro lado, las políticas de Gorbachov privaron a la Unión Soviética de enemigos ideológicos, lo que a su vez debilitó el dominio de la ideología soviética sobre el pueblo.

A medida que los problemas económicos de la U.R.S.S.se agravaron (por ejemplo, se introdujo el racionamiento de algunos productos alimenticios básicos por primera vez desde Stalin) y comenzaron a aumentar los pedidos de reformas políticas más rápidas y descentralización, el problema de la nacionalidad se agudizó para Gorbachov. En Georgia, Azerbaiyán y los estados bálticos se utilizó una fuerza limitada para sofocar los problemas de nacionalidad, aunque Gorbachov nunca estuvo dispuesto a utilizar la fuerza sistemática para restablecer el control del centro. El resurgimiento del nacionalismo ruso debilitó gravemente a Gorbachov como líder del imperio soviético.

En 1985 Gorbachov llevó a Boris Yeltsin a Moscú para dirigir la máquina de fiestas de esa ciudad. Yeltsin entró en conflicto con los miembros más conservadores del Politburó y finalmente fue destituido del cargo en Moscú a fines de 1987. Regresó a la vida pública como diputado electo de Moscú al Congreso de los Diputados del Pueblo en 1989. Cuando el Congreso de los Diputados del Pueblo eligió al Soviet Supremo como parlamento permanente, Yeltsin no fue elegido, ya que el Congreso tenía una mayoría abrumadoramente comunista. Sin embargo, un diputado siberiano renunció a su favor. Yeltsin por primera vez tuvo una plataforma nacional. En el parlamento, ridiculizó a Gorbachov, el Partido Comunista, la corrupción y la lentitud de la reforma económica. Yeltsin fue elegido presidente del parlamento ruso a pesar de la enconada oposición de Gorbachov.

En marzo de 1991, cuando Gorbachov lanzó un referéndum de toda la unión sobre la futura federación soviética, Rusia y varias otras repúblicas agregaron algunas preguntas complementarias. Una de las preguntas rusas era si los votantes estaban a favor de un presidente elegido directamente. Lo fueron y eligieron a Yeltsin. Usó su nueva legitimidad para promover la soberanía rusa, defender y adoptar reformas económicas radicales, exigir la renuncia de Gorbachov y negociar tratados con las repúblicas bálticas, en los que reconoció su derecho a la independencia. Los intentos soviéticos de desalentar la independencia del Báltico llevaron a un enfrentamiento sangriento en Vilnius en enero de 1991, después de lo cual Yeltsin pidió a las tropas rusas que desobedecieran las órdenes que les obligarían a disparar contra civiles desarmados.


Ucrania & # 8217s futuro y el pasado soviético

Los acontecimientos ocurridos en Ucrania durante los últimos meses han paralizado al mundo. Las protestas que al principio parecían confinadas a unas pocas calles en la capital, Kiev, con eco en las regiones occidentales, ahora se han intensificado en todo el país. Crimea ya se ha convertido en territorio ruso, hubo una terrible pérdida de vidas en Odessa hace diez días y el referéndum de este fin de semana hace que el destino de las regiones de Donetsk y Lugansk en el este parezca cada vez más incierto. Como historiador de la Unión Soviética, amigos y colegas me han pedido varias veces mis puntos de vista y, en particular, que haga algún tipo de evaluación sobre lo que depara el futuro. ¿Rusia invadirá? ¿Podrá Ucrania sobrevivir? No tengo ni idea.

En su historia de Ucrania, Andrew Wilson llamó a Ucrania una "nación inesperada" [1]. En otra historia reciente, Serhy Yekelchyk ha argumentado que la Ucrania moderna no es el resultado de "ninguna inevitabilidad histórica" ​​[2]. Los movimientos nacionalistas ciertamente existieron en el siglo XIX y principios del XX, pero las ciudades, los centros naturales para este tipo de proyecto de construcción nacional, eran cosmopolitas, con grandes comunidades rusas y judías. La Primera Guerra Mundial y las revoluciones de 1917 dieron nueva energía a los movimientos nacionalistas y fueron ayudados, al menos en la década de 1920, por el deseo de los bolcheviques de evitar las políticas rusificantes de los zares. Pero los territorios que componen la Ucrania postsoviética se unieron en una sola unidad política solo después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Todo esto convierte a Ucrania en un estado-nación relativamente nuevo. A medida que la violencia se intensifica, se siente cada vez más difícil predecir si este estado "nación inesperado" se mantendrá unido, y no me gustaría hacer ninguna profecía.

Entonces, si el futuro es opaco, ¿pueden los eventos actuales decirnos algo sobre el pasado? Una de las noticias que me llamó la atención recientemente fue el intento de cinco parlamentarios rusos de llevar a juicio a Mikhail Gorbachev, el último líder de la URSS. Se le acusa de "traición a los intereses nacionales". Su crimen es haber permitido la desintegración de la Unión Soviética, lo que iba en contra del sentimiento popular: un referéndum en marzo de 1991 encontró al 76,4% de los que votaron a favor de establecer una unión de repúblicas soberanas, es decir, retener la Unión Soviética, aunque con mayor poder descentralizado. de Moscú. (Seis repúblicas no participaron en el referéndum de Ucrania). [3] El propio Gorbachov ha descartado sus intentos como un simple truco de relaciones públicas y lo calificó de "absolutamente irrazonable" desde un punto de vista histórico. Por supuesto que tiene razón: luchó hasta el final para reformar y preservar la Unión. El historiador Stephen Cohen lo ha descrito como "una figura lincolnesca decidida a" preservar la Unión "" a cualquier precio [4].

Pero esto, y la actual crisis de Ucrania, plantea interrogantes sobre cómo se entiende hoy el fin de la Unión Soviética en Rusia. No hay duda de que hay apoyo para los reclamos rusos sobre Crimea: durante años, he escuchado a amigos rusos recordar con nostalgia las vacaciones de la infancia en Yalta o Feodosia, y afirmar que la península era por derecho "suya". Pero más que eso, muchos rusos sienten amargamente la pérdida del imperio. La década de 1990 fue una década traumática: con los salarios y las pensiones promedio cayendo en picado, muchos sintieron no solo que se había perdido el prestigio ruso / soviético, sino que el país era ahora víctima de una especie de colonización económica. Con la recuperación económica de los últimos diez o quince años, el nacionalismo ruso ha revivido, a menudo tomando formas belicosas bajo el liderazgo de Putin. El pasado soviético, en algunos sectores, se ha convertido en un mito atractivo, y es esto lo que ha hecho posible la rehabilitación parcial de Stalin como una especie de héroe nacional.

¿Hasta qué punto debería cambiar esto la forma en que pensamos, escribimos y enseñamos la historia soviética? ¿Es la nostalgia por el pasado soviético simplemente un producto de las últimas dos décadas y media de la historia rusa? ¿De la caída del país en la ignominia económica, demográfica y geopolítica, y su posterior, frágil, resurgimiento bajo Putin? ¿O también nos dice algo sobre el pasado soviético en sí? Las narrativas de la Unión Soviética abundan en metáforas de decadencia y declive, algunas de las cuales iniciaron el descenso hacia el estancamiento y el colapso ya en la década de 1940. Existe una tendencia a ver el experimento soviético como defectuoso, sus ciudadanos hambrientos por el tipo de libertades políticas y económicas prometidas por "Occidente". Pero la nostalgia actual por el pasado soviético da una pausa para pensar. Por supuesto, tiene mucho que ver con el patriotismo y un sentido de orgullo nacional, por supuesto, el pasado soviético que la gente está recordando es inventado. Pero si el ideal soviético estuvo tan moribundo, durante tanto tiempo, ¿podría resucitar tan fácilmente?

Tampoco tengo respuestas directas a estas preguntas, pero ciertamente parece importante reflexionar sobre cómo, y si, nuestros relatos del pasado soviético deberían ser revisados ​​por la reinvención que está experimentando hoy en Rusia.

Miriam Dobson es profesora titular del Departamento de Historia de Sheffield. Puedes leer sus otras publicaciones de blog aquí. También escribe para el Blog de Historia de Rusia.

Imagen: Caída de Lenin en el parque Khmelnytskyi (febrero de 2014) [Wikicommons]

[1] Andrew Wilson, Los ucranianos: nación inesperada (New Haven, 2002)
[2] Serhy Yekelchyk, Ucrania: nacimiento de una nación moderna (Nueva York, 2007), pág. 6
[3] Ronal G. Suny, La venganza del pasado: nacionalismo, revolución y colapso de la Unión Soviética (Stanford, 1993), pág. 150
[4] Stephen F. Cohen, "Was the Soviet System Reformable?", Revisión eslava63 (2004), pág. 482.


Visión general

La Unión Soviética fue un imperio multinacional desde la revolución de 1917 hasta la desaparición final del comunismo en 1991. Multinacional en este contexto significaba que todos los ciudadanos soviéticos estaban definidos por la nacionalidad, que era una categoría asociada con el nacimiento, pero también con lengua materna, fronteras regionales y tradiciones culturales. Si bien los rusos siempre constituyeron el grupo nacional más grande, nunca constituyeron la mayoría absoluta de la población. Todos los ciudadanos soviéticos tenían su nacionalidad sellada en su pasaporte, lo que proporcionaba un marcador de identidad.

Como indica el mapa de 1982 incluido con los materiales de la fuente primaria, el territorio de la Unión Soviética estaba dividido en quince repúblicas y más de cien regiones autónomas, cada una de las cuales estaba definida al menos parcialmente por nacionalidad. Las escuelas soviéticas enseñaban a los niños en su idioma "nativo", y se publicaban periódicos, publicaciones periódicas y libros en muchos idiomas además del ruso. Si bien el Partido Comunista, la policía de seguridad y el ejército aseguraron que el poder político permaneciera centralizado, jerárquico y dictatorial, las experiencias cotidianas de las personas a lo largo de este período siempre involucraron las identidades duales, tanto nacional como soviética.

Este extenso módulo de enseñanza incluye un ensayo informativo, objetivos, actividades, preguntas de discusión, orientación para la ejecución de la lección y sugerencias de ensayo adicionales relacionadas con las trece fuentes primarias.

Ensayo

Nacionalidades y la desintegración de la URSS

Dado este trasfondo histórico, la pregunta clave es qué papel jugaron las nacionalidades en las etapas finales de la desintegración de la Unión Soviética. Para explorar esta cuestión, es importante definir los significados de nacionalidad y nacionalismo, tal como se aplican a esta situación histórica. La nacionalidad se refiere a una población que comparte algunas características clave: idioma, cultura, geografía, afiliación política, religión, territorio o experiencia histórica. El nacionalismo se refiere a una ideología, en la que la identificación con la nación se convierte en una fuente importante de identidad, una causa de movilización o un punto de discordia.

A lo largo del siglo XX, la medida en que las muchas nacionalidades en el imperio ruso y luego en la Unión Soviética se articularon y experimentaron un sentido de nacionalismo dependió del contexto histórico. Algunas nacionalidades desarrollaron un sentido de nacionalismo relativamente fuerte que se basaba en el resentimiento contra la incorporación al imperio ruso (y posteriormente soviético), la insatisfacción con el estatus subordinado dentro de este sistema y algún deseo de autonomía e incluso de independencia. Las tres repúblicas bálticas (Lituania, Letonia y Estonia) tenían el sentido más fuerte de nacionalismo, debido a la forma en que fueron incorporadas a la Unión Soviética como resultado del pacto de 1939 con la Alemania nazi, otras nacionalidades con un sentido relativamente fuerte de nacionalismo incluyeron los ucranianos, armenios y georgianos.

Al mismo tiempo, otras nacionalidades se caracterizaron por lo que podría llamarse un sentido más débil de nacionalismo, que no atribuía tanta importancia a las diferencias históricas, culturales, territoriales y lingüísticas. Ejemplos de definiciones más débiles de nacionalismo incluyen a Bielorrusia, Moldavia y especialmente a las poblaciones predominantemente musulmanas en Azerbaiyán, Uzbekistán, Tayikistán, Kazajstán y Turkmenistán, donde las identidades religiosas y culturales que trascienden las fronteras territoriales coexisten con patrones de subdesarrollo económico.

Dentro de cada una de estas repúblicas nacionales y especialmente dentro de la República Socialista Federativa Soviética de Rusia, las nacionalidades más pequeñas también desarrollaron definiciones más fuertes o más débiles de nacionalismo. El pueblo ruso, más que cualquier otra población, tendió a identificar su identidad nacional con el sistema general del poder soviético. Si bien el fin de la Unión Soviética dio como resultado la formación de 15 repúblicas independientes, tanto el proceso de disolución como la historia posterior de estos países estuvo marcada por estas diferencias en el nacionalismo como ideología política.

Movimientos de Independencia Nacional

Reconocer este espectro de nacionalismo explica por qué las repúblicas bálticas de Estonia, Letonia y Lituania fueron las primeras en desafiar la afirmación del gobierno soviético de gobernar con el consentimiento de las nacionalidades. Durante los primeros años de Gorbachov perestroika y glasnostDe hecho, los líderes de los "frentes populares" en estas regiones bálticas estaban entre sus más firmes partidarios porque compartían su objetivo de descentralizar el poder, crear oportunidades para la libre expresión y reconocer los errores y crímenes de la historia soviética. En 1988, sin embargo, estos frentes populares se adelantaron a Gorbachov en su demanda de mayor independencia, una economía de mercado al estilo occidental y sistemas políticos multipartidistas con legisladores electos. Después del colapso del Muro de Berlín en noviembre de 1989, los líderes de las repúblicas bálticas avanzaron aún más rápidamente en sus demandas de independencia, lo que también provocó una respuesta más contundente del gobierno soviético, así como de los rusos étnicos que vivían en las repúblicas.

Durante el transcurso de 1990, las tres repúblicas bálticas declararon su independencia formal de la Unión Soviética. Ante este desafío directo a la autoridad e integridad del sistema político soviético, Gorbachov respondió declarando ilegales estos pasos. En enero de 1991, uno de los enfrentamientos más visibles entre la autoridad central y la autonomía regional se produjo en Vilnius, Lituania, cuando las fuerzas soviéticas atacaron una estación de televisión que se había manifestado abiertamente en apoyo de las fuerzas del frente popular. Las fuerzas que rompen el sistema soviético se fortalecieron cuando Boris Yeltsin, como líder de la república rusa, declaró su solidaridad con los movimientos bálticos e incluso buscó apoyo extranjero para este impulso separatista. The overwhelming support for independence was reflected in outcomes of the referenda held in February and March 1991 pushed these Baltic states even further from the Soviet system even before the failed August coup by anti-Gorbachev hardliners in Moscow and the subsequent end of the Soviet Union in December.

In the year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia itself emerged as another leading force in the movement to claim independence from the Soviet Union. These steps included a declaration that Russian law took precedence over Soviet law, preparation of a Russian constitution, and negotiations with the governments of other republics that bypassed the Soviet administrative system. In early 1991, when Gorbachev scheduled a referendum on the new federal union, the chairman of the Russian Communist Party, Yeltsin, added a question about whether voters favored a direct election of the Russian president. This provision passed overwhelmingly, and in June 1991, Yeltsin was elected President of Russia, thus acquiring a kind of democratic legitimacy never pursued by Gorbachev, who refused to subject his authority to any kind of electoral approval. When the attempted coup failed in August 1991, Russia was well positioned to declare formal independence, and to assume many of the governmental functions that the Communist Party was no longer able to provide.

In the Caucasus, the movement towards independence was complicated by the tensions among and within national groups. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan focused on the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in which Armenians made up a majority of the population, yet the district was administered by Azerbaijan. As the Armenian republic government escalated its pressure for a union with this territory, the government of Azerbaijan as well as the Azeri population in and around Nagorno-Karabakh also escalated its resistance to Armenia's attempt to incorporate the region into its territory. In January 1990, a series of violent attacks on Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh provoked intervention by Soviet troops, which established order but further emboldened independence movements in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, even as both sides accused Moscow of showing favoritism to their rivals.

In Georgia, by contrast, the emergence of a nationalist movement also provoked one of the most violent incidents of this period, an attack by Soviet troops on demonstrators in April 1989 that resulted in 19 deaths. Even as the Georgian independence movement acquired a broad base of support, ethnic minorities within Georgia also began to press for more rights or even new unions across existing political boundaries. First the Soviet and then the Russian government repeatedly threatened to intervene in defense of minority rights in Georgia, even as Georgia itself assumed a leading role in asserting national sovereignty before the final collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991.

In Central Asia, one of the first manifestations of nationalism came, ironically, in opposition to Gorbachev's reforms, when he threatened to remove Communist Party officials implicated in systemic corruption and abuses of power in several Central Asian republics. Rather than perceiving these actions as signs of progress, Communists from the local nationalities rallied around their leaders, thus initiating (however inadvertently) challenges to Moscow's authority that would spread in the following years. As in the other regions, glasnost created possibilities for the articulation of nationalism as a collective ideology and movement. More significantly, however, a number of Communist officials from specific national groups redefined themselves and their networks of power in ways that positioned them to assume power as the Soviet system began to weaken. The post-Soviet rulers of the Central Asian republics thus shared a common trajectory, as they were all put into power by the Moscow-based Soviet Communist Party, but remained in power as leaders of newly independent national republics.

In Ukraine, where nationalists could point to moments of historical experience of self-rule and cultural independence, the evolution of a nationalist identity was complicated, as was true throughout the Soviet Union, by the multi-national and multi-ethnic composition of the population. While the western regions of Ukraine were increasingly confrontational in their demands for autonomy and independence, the more eastern regions, where a larger proportion of the population was ethnically Russian, were less supportive of this movement for autonomy and independence. While Ukraine was geographically closest too and thus strongly influenced by the rapid changes in Eastern Europe in 1989, these divisions within the territory and population complicated and compromised this nationalist challenge to Soviet power. Ukraine played a key role in orchestrating the final end of this drama. In mid-December 1991, the leaders of Russia, Belorussia, and Ukraine declared themselves independent, thus bringing to an end, on New Year's Eve, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Exploring the Documents

The documents provided in this module make it possible to explore the multiple histories outlined in the above narrative. Maps and population statistics for the Soviet and post-Soviet period provide some basis for situating and measuring the extent of changes in territory and population. Most of the other materials come from the year 1989, when the Soviet nationalities simultaneously exercised their own emerging sense of nationalism and also responded to the parallel changes in Eastern Europe. While the Soviet Union remained intact and the Communist Party retained power throughout this pivotal year, the changes in national identity represented one of the most important factors that contributed to the breakup of this system less than two years later.

Media reports published within the Soviet Union thus represent voices and movements of individuals and groups struggling to to define their common interests, pursue shared objectives, account for differences within and between national groups, and respond to the authority of the central government. These media sources are taken from the published daily reports of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a U.S. government agency that monitored broadcasts and publications from within the Communist bloc throughout the later stages of the Cold War. As this bloc began to disintegrate, American policy makers used these translated documents, in combination with other reports, to determine the intentions of actors and the implications of events. Re-reading these documents as historical sources makes it possible to follow unfolding developments and explore perspectives of those who truly "made" the history of 1989.

Tom Ewing
Virginia Tech University
Blacksburg, Virginia


Unrest in the Soviet Union

The increased freedoms of glasnost allowed opposition groups to make political gains against the centralized Soviet government in Moscow. The Revolutions of 1989 were part of a revolutionary wave in the late 1980s and early 1990s that resulted in the end of communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond.

Leadup to Revolution

By the late 1980s, people in the Caucasus and Baltic states were demanding more autonomy from Moscow, and the Kremlin was losing some of its control over certain regions and elements in the Soviet Union. In November 1988, Estonia issued a declaration of sovereignty, which eventually led to other states doing the same.

The Chernobyl disaster in April 1986 had major political and social effects that catalyzed the revolutions of 1989. It is difficult to establish the total economic cost of the disaster. According to Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union spent 18 billion rubles (the equivalent of USD $18 billion at the time) on containment and decontamination, virtually bankrupting itself. One political result of the disaster was the greatly increased significance of the Soviet policy of glasnost. Under glasnost, relaxation of censorship resulted in the Communist Party losing its grip on the media, and Soviet citizens were able to learn significantly more about the past and the outside world.

The Soviet media began to expose numerous social and economic problems in the Soviet Union that the government had long denied and covered up, such as poor housing, food shortages, alcoholism, widespread pollution, creeping mortality rates, the second-rate position of women, and the history of state crimes against the population. Although Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s personality cult as early as the 1950s, information about the true proportions of his atrocities had still been suppressed. These revelations had a devastating effect on those who believed in state communism and had never been exposed to this information, as the driving vision of society was built on a foundation of falsehood and crimes against humanity. Additionally, information about the higher quality of life in the United States and Western Europe and about Western pop culture were exposed to the Soviet public for the first time.

Political openness continued to produce unintended consequences. In elections to the regional assemblies of the Soviet Union’s constituent republics, nationalists swept the board. As Gorbachev weakened the system of internal political repression, the ability of the USSR’s central government to impose its will on the USSR’s constituent republics was largely undermined. During the 1980s, calls for greater independence from Moscow’s rule grew louder. This was especially marked in the Baltic Republics of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, which had been annexed into the Soviet Union by Joseph Stalin in 1940. Nationalist sentiment also took hold in other Soviet republics such as Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

Starting in the mid-1980s, the Baltic states used the reforms provided by glasnost to assert their rights to protect their environment (for example during the Phosphorite War) and their historic monuments, and, later, their claims to sovereignty and independence. When the Balts withstood outside threats, they exposed an irresolute Kremlin. Bolstering separatism in other Soviet republics, the Balts triggered multiple challenges to the Soviet Union. The rise of nationalism under glasnost also reawakened simmering ethnic tensions throughout the union. For example, in February 1988, Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly ethnic Armenian region in Azerbaijan, passed a resolution calling for unification with Armenia, which sparked the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Collapse (Summer 1989 to Fall 1991)

Momentum toward full-blown revolution began in Poland in 1989. During the Polish United Workers’ Party’s (PZPR) plenary session of January 16-18, 1989, General Wojciech Jaruzelski and his ruling formation overcame the Central Committee’s resistance by threatening to resign. As a result, the communist party decided to allow relegalization of the independent trade union Solidarity and approach its leaders for formal talks. From February 6 to April 4, 94 sessions of talks between 13 working groups, known as the Round Table Talks, resulted in political and economic compromise reforms. The talks resulted in the Round Table Agreement, by which political power wound be vested in a newly created bicameral legislature and a president who would be the chief executive.

By April 4, 1989, numerous reforms and freedoms for the opposition were obtained. Solidarity, now in existence as the Solidarity Citizens’ Committee, would again be legalized as a trade union and allowed to participate in semi-free elections. The election had restrictions imposed designed to keep the communists in power, since only 35% of the seats in the Sejm, the key lower chamber of parliament, would be open to Solidarity candidates. The remaining 65% was reserved for candidates from the PZPR and its allies (the United People’s Party, the Alliance of Democrats, and the PAX Association). Since the Round Table Agreement mandated only reform (not replacement) of socialism in Poland, the communist party thought of the election as a way of neutralizing political conflict and staying in power while gaining legitimacy to carry out economic reforms. However, the negotiated social policy determinations by economists and trade unionists during the Round Table talks were quickly rejected by both the Party and the opposition.

A systemic transformation was made possible by the Polish legislative elections of June 4, 1989, which coincided with the bloody crackdown on the Tienanmen Square protesters in China. When polling results were released, a political earthquake erupted: Solidarity’s victory surpassed all predictions. Solidarity candidates captured all seats they were allowed to compete for in the Sejm, while in the newly established Senate they captured 99 out of the 100 available seats (the other seat went to an independent, who later switched to Solidarity). At the same time, many prominent PZPR candidates failed to gain even the minimum number of votes required to capture the seats that were reserved for them. The communists suffered a catastrophic blow to their legitimacy as a result.

Revolutionary momentum, encouraged by the peaceful transition underway in Poland, continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. A common feature among these countries was the extensive use of campaigns of civil resistance, demonstrating popular opposition to the continuation of one-party rule and contributing to the pressure for change. Romania was the only Eastern Bloc country whose people overthrew its Communist regime violently. The Tienanmen Square protests of 1989 failed to stimulate major political changes in China, but powerful images of courageous defiance during that protest helped to spark a precipitation of events in other parts of the globe. Hungary dismantled its section of the physical Iron Curtain, leading to a mass exodus of East Germans through Hungary that destabilized East Germany. This led to mass demonstrations in cities such as Leipzig and subsequently to the fall of the Berlin Wall, which served as the symbolic gateway to German reunification in 1990.

The Soviet Union was dissolved by the end of 1991, resulting in 14 countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan) declaring their independence from the Soviet Union in 1990-91. Lithuania was the first Union Republic to declare independence from the dissolving Soviet Union in the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, signed by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania on March 11, 1990. The Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania served as a model and inspiration to other Soviet republics. However, the issue of independence was not immediately settled and recognition by other countries was uncertain. The rest of the Soviet Union, which constituted the bulk of the area, became Russia in December 1991.

Act of Restoration of Independence of Lithuania, March 11, 1990: Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania with signatures of the delegates

Communism was abandoned in Albania and Yugoslavia between 1990 and 1992. By 1992, Yugoslavia split into the five successor states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Macedonia, Slovenia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was later renamed Serbia and Montenegro and eventually split into two separate states,. Serbia then further split with the breakaway of the partially recognized state of Kosovo. Czechoslovakia was dissolved three years after the end of Communist rule, splitting peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1992. The impact was felt in dozens of Socialist countries. Communism was abandoned in countries such as Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mongolia (which democratically re-elected a Communist government that ran the country until 1996), and South Yemen. The collapse of Communism (and of the Soviet Union) led commentators to declare the end of the Cold War.

During the adoption of varying forms of market economies, there was initially a general decline in living standards. Political reforms were varied, but in only five countries were Communist parties able to keep for themselves a monopoly on power: China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam. Many Communist and Socialist organisations in the West turned their guiding principles over to social democracy. Communist parties in Italy and San Marino suffered, and the renewal of the Italian political class took place in the early 1990s. The European political landscape was drastically changed, with numerous Eastern Bloc countries joining NATO and the European Union, resulting in stronger economic and social integration.


What was the purpose of the 1991 referendum on the future of the Soviet Union? - Historia

IMPLICATIONS OF THE PAST FOR THE FUTURE OF THE BALTIC STATES

WILLIAM URBAN
Monmouth College

Most non-Baltic observers are only vaguely aware of the many ways the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are three distinctly different nations. The Estonian language is close enough to Finnish that television viewers watch Finnish TV wherever they can receive a signal. Estonia, like Finland, has had important historic ties to Sweden. Latvia has a language related to Lithuanian, but it has few historic ties to that nation instead, its culture, like Estonia's, reflects German and Hanseatic influence. Lithuania, in contrast, is historically connected with White Russia and Poland. As a result, as long as we talk about the three Baltic states, we know that we refer to relatively small (but not tiny) nations which have a shoreline on the Baltic, a pride in being part of western civilization, and the unhappy experience of having been repeatedly conquered by Russians and then ruled oppressively. However, whenever we add Finland and Sweden to the definition of Baltic States, we immediately encounter difficulties in defining Lithuania's Baltic character.

The first major difference is religion. The Lithuanians' steadfast adherence to Roman Catholicism is to be understood as a declaration that they are not Russians (who historically are Orthodox Christians, more recently [officially] atheists'. It also means that Lithuania is not part of the German/Scandinavian religious system either. Instead, for centuries the religious orientation has been to Rome (traditionally via Cracow). The second difference is language. Historically, educated Lithuanians spoke Latin and Polish, then Russian, French, and German they rarely spoke Latvian or Estonian. In turn, few educated Latvians and Estonians spoke Lithuanian.

The three nationalities have rarely worked together effectively. In the Middle Ages, before the crusader conquest in the thirteenth century, Estonians dominated the various peoples who later amalgamated into Latvians, and the Lithuanians lorded over all of them. In the early thirteenth century, the Estonians were conquered by Danish crusaders, the Latvians by German crusaders after the great Estonian Uprising of 1343, the Danes sold Estonia to the local branch of the Teutonic Knights. Although efforts were made by the earliest of these foreign rulers to co-opt the native nobility and make them into cooperative vassals (as was done in Mecklenburg and Pomerania), eventually German nobles, burghers, and artisans came to exercise all significant political and economic power with significant regional differences beyond the scope of this essay. In contrast to these developments which tied Estonians and Latvians to western markets, western religious ideas, and western governmental institutions, during these same years the Lithuanians not only repelled crusader advances (with courageous exploits of arms such as are celebrated in the opera, "Pil nai") but expanded north to Russian Pskov and Novgorod, east to the gates of Moscow, and south as far as Kiev and Lublin. Thus, for critical centuries Lithuania looked east, not west.

The great pagan rulers of Lithuania offered religious tolerance to all their subjects, thus reconciling Russian and Ukrainian boyars to their rule and attracting Jewish immigrants, German merchants, and Tatar mercenaries. Paganism officially came to an end in 1386 when Grand Duke Jogaila married the Polish heiress, Jadwiga. However, Jogaila and his successors tolerated the existence of pockets of paganism and protected their Orthodox subjects. Consequently, many Lithuanians were lukewarm Catholics at best until the Counter-reformation. Calvinism and other Protestant sects flourished briefly at the midpoint of the sixteenth century before being suppressed.

In retrospect, we can see how heavily the odds were stacked against the survival of the loosely organized Polish-Lithuanian state. To the west it faced populous, more industrialized German states from the south came the onrushing Turks. Then, while the Polish kings were preoccupied with those threats, the Grand Dukes of Moscow began to gather in the various Russian states. By the mid-point of the sixteenth century, Ivan IV (the Terrible) had taken so much land from the Lithuanians and Tatars that he could title himself, Tsar of all the Russias. The Lithuanian leaders needed Polish military aid so desperately that they reluctantly agreed to the 1569 Act of Union. Their concessions to the Poles, especially in the sphere of religion, were controversial at the time and became more so as time passed. As a result, some modern Lithuanians regard this Union as the historic mistake of the nation.

Lithuania, far smaller in population and less advanced in the arts and sciences than Poland, was to lose its greatest minds and greatest leaders to the attractions of the Polish language and culture: some Lithuanian nationalists have not yet forgiven Poland for its oppressive attraction and for a tendency to regard all Lithuanians as wild primitives. Mickiewicz became the greatest of the Polish poets, but his most popular poems extolled the virtues of pagan Lithuania. Pilsudski committed the ultimate treason for many Lithuanians in 1920 he tore his native Vilnius from the newly independent Lithuania and made it part of Poland. Stalin's unilateral restoration of Vilnius to Lithuania was not popular with Poles. Among the unhappy consequences of this long strained relationship have been ethnic conflicts in Chicago, less enthusiasm for a Polish pope than outsiders expect, and a cooler relationship between the Polish and Lithuanian governments than would be desirable.

After Ivan the Terrible destroyed the crusader state in Livonia the ultimate victors were the Swedish and Polish monarchs and the Livonian German nobility. The Swedish army defended Livonia for a century, but its devastating forays through Poland undermined Lithuania's ability (and willingness) to fight when Peter the Great made his drive to the sea. Before the century was out the lands comprising modern Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were conquered by Russian armies. Their separate historical paths had finally merged in a common experience of exploitation and oppression.

Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland became independent when Russia collapsed in defeat and civil war during the First World War, but their cooperation in the wars for independence was minimal. Instead, the three southern Baltic states fought in a bewildering sequence of separate alliances with Russian communists, Russian conservatives, Germans, German para-military units, and, finally, Britain and France. Universal exhaustion, Lenin's cold-blooded practicality, and the West's desire for a cordon sanitaire to protect Europe from the infection of Bolshevism won the Baltic states their independence.

In 1934, the Baltic states joined in the Baltic Entente, but this defensive alliance was utterly ineffective when the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939 delivered them into the hands of the Soviet Union. Finland, in contrast, fought valiantly and retained its political independence. One lesson drawn from the Finnish example for application today is the necessity of resisting any reassertion of Soviet control blood sacrificed today will redeem the nation later by validating the claim to sovereign independence.

It is often forgotten that the Baltic peoples did take up arms in 1941 and continued to resist beyond 1945. Lithuanians continued their armed resistance until 1953 and the last guerrilla came out of his forest hideaway in 1990.

The United States never recognized the legality of the Soviet annexation of the Baltic states. The American government continued to recognize the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian ambassadors who remained in Washington, D.C. However, in recent years disarmament negotiations aimed at ending the Cold War and withdrawing American forces from Europe were more important than the Helsinki Accords which (in the minds of some) began the movement for freedom in Central and Eastern Europe.

Although Russia ruled the Baltic states for most of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, no Russian ruler ever under-stood how to govern them. Russian bureaucrats relied on rules of thumb such as believing that only the German Balts were of importance in matters of politics, economics, and culture in the two northern states the wishes of the Estonians and Latvians could be safely discounted and that the Lithuanian nobility was sufficiently estranged from its national roots that some families could be considered Russian (or Ukrainian) and others Polish. As a result, tsarist officials concentrated their efforts at Russification on the Lithuanian commoners. They met with opposite results from those desired the Lithuanians clung all the more firmly to their Roman Catholic faith, their language, and their land. Russification in the north was moderated by the cultural domination of the Germans. That, however, ended with the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939. Moreover, it would hardly have made any difference to Joseph Stalin, whose regime was rarely noted for humanity, moderation, or common sense. His propaganda justified whatever policies were decreed as necessary for the modernization of the state on behalf of an international proletariat.

In order to accomplish the goals of a communist ideology (such as fraternity of all peoples, opportunity regardless of race, sex, or national origin) which stood in stark contrast to the police state reality, Soviet officials chose a less overt route toward Russification than the tsarist bureaucracy had followed: while proclaiming to the world that they were encouraging the survival of local cultures and languages, they adopted economic and educational policies which encouraged the use of Russian. The problem faced by the communist administrators was not uniquely Soviet: every large state sees an advantage in having a common language for its citizens. Consequently, in most large states minorities must choose between preserving their language and culture or learning a world language as an entree to the best educational institutions and technical training institutes. Threatened minorities often strive to escape this dilemma by providing their own national universities and institutes. In the case of the Baltic states, these institutions could be created only after achieving political independence or true autonomy.

Gorbachev ignored the aspirations of the Baltic peoples as the outdated dreams of a handful of nationalist radicals who were probably fascists to boot. He accepted the common stereotype of Balts as docile peoples who were somewhat more westernized than the populations of the other Soviet republics. (The western orientation is true, but it is easy to exaggerate its importance: for most of the post-war period the Baltic states have been deliberately isolated from the west, with the exception of the "Vodka Ferry" between Helsinki and Tallinn, and the other republics are not as backward as is often thought.) Gorbachev believed that the Balts would eagerly seize the economic opportunities inherent in Perestroika. He was counting on the Latvians to save cornmunism once again, as the Latvian Riflemen had saved Lenin at a critical moment in the Revolution. However, Gorbachev had never visited the Baltic states personally until the fall of 1989, when he hurriedly flew to Vilnius in an attempt to persuade the Lithuanian man-in-the-street that the declaration of sovereignty was a dangerous and foolish dream. His failure can be attributed to a profound lack of understanding concerning the true wishes of the Baltic peoples.

Bush seemed equally at a loss for a Baltic policy which could support the ideals of democracy and national self-determination. As President of the United States, he first of all had to be concerned with removing the Soviet army from Germany, Poland, and the Federation of Czechs and Slovaks. Secondly, he wanted to support democratic reforms in the Soviet Union. Such policies, if successful, would end the night-mare of nuclear war which had haunted the world for four decades. The desire of the Baltic peoples, including most Baltic communists, for national independence threatened both goals by undermining the credibility of the architects of reform, especially Gorbachev. Therefore, no matter how much Bush sympathized with the Baltic peoples in 1989 and 1990, American national interests dictated a hands-off policy.

That the American national interest had been invested in Gorbachev was no secret to the Baltic leaders, but they could not wait for the five or seven years Gorbachev requested, after which the proposed amendments to the Soviet Constitution might allow them independence. First of all, they knew that Gorbachev's chances of surviving in power that long were slim. They also had reason to believe that the proposed amendments were more likely to impede secession than aid it. Why should they wait, when they could see the Soviet empire disintegrating in Central Europe, the Caucasus, and in Afghanistan. This very moment, like that in 1918-1920, might be the only opportunity to get out.

Delay could have been fatal. The Baltic peoples faced worsening demographic situations: at the current rate Latvians and Estonians would be minorities in their own countries within a few years. Modem Russification had become a brutal policy, but its effectiveness was evident: Russian-speaking workers from other republics were being transferred to the Baltic states, while local university and technical school graduates were assigned jobs in other republics. The Soviet strategy was to emulate the American experience (as they understood it), so that in the course of time, everyone would come to use Russian as the primary language. Estonians and Latvians were already outnumbered in some cities and only the Lithuanians formed a solid ethnic community.

The importance of ethnic identity had never been completely suppressed in the Baltic states. Moreover, it had been reviving steadily in Latvia and Estonia since the early 1980s, partly because of problems in the educational system (which was sharply divided into local and Russian language tracks) and it took on additional urgency after 1985 when ecological concerns arose. But it was the Lithuanians' swift move toward independence in 1989 which caused the northern states to commence their singing revolution mass movements which emphasized the native culture overtly, thus reinvigorating national consciousness in Latvia and Estonia.

Gorbachev had hoped to use the Baltic nations as models of Perestroika, thereby saving communism from its internal decay. When he saw his mistake, he changed course immediately, subsequently allying himself with that odd mixture of old-fashioned communists, frightened bureaucrats, authoritarian colonels, and Russian nationalists. He abandoned the heart of his reform program and allowed a show of force in efforts to repress the most dangerous liberal and nationalist movements. Fortunately for the Baltic states, the reform movement had spread so widely and so deeply throughout the Soviet Union, that Gorbachev could not proceed toward repression along the time-tested lines of party decrees. He had already lost the key elections in the Baltic states. In order to remove the new Baltic leaders from power could only be done by declaring himself dictator openly. Such a step would likely provoke civil war throughout the Soviet state.

Limited in his choice of tactics by a numerous liberal op-position, Gorbachev acquired additional constitutional powers while making a selective use of KGB units, Interior ministry Black Berets, and Red Army terror. He tried threats, then began mobilizing people who might well fear for their future in independent Baltic states especially the Russian immigrants who refused to assimilate. These techniques were not new and they had worked before. However, this time, tank columns rumbling through the capital and the seizure of centers of communication failed to intimidate the people. Nor did the economic blockade achieve its purpose, partly because he underestimated the degree to which the Soviet economy was integrated, partly because of Lithuanian resourcefulness in acquiring raw materials from other secessionist-minded republics and the crowds of patriots refused to be intimidated. Similarly, the efforts to mobilize the Russian-speaking peoples in all three Baltic states, warning them that they would become a persecuted minority, failed: the February 1991 referendum indicates that many Russian-speaking citizens voted for independence. The March referendum, with its confusing language (a Yes vote was for preserving the Union and instituting democratic reforms at the same time), was hardly an overwhelming endorsement of Gorbachev's regime.

Throughout this entire experience, we see evidence of close cooperation among the three Baltic states. Also there was support from other republics: Georgia, of course, but also from the Ukraine, where the independence movement was not yet clearly ascendant. Most importantly, Russian reformers who yearned for democracy and a freer market understood that if Gorbachev and the hard-liners succeeded in crushing the Baltic independence movements, he would do the same to them. Consequently, many reformers, with Boris Yeltsin at their head, openly favored independence for the Baltic states. Meanwhile, "Russian-speaking" immigrants were moving into Lithuania, many of them Jews fleeing the growing potential for pogroms which in the past so often marked Russian nationalist movements.

The agonizingly slow progress of the reform movement was the best hope of the Baltic states for ultimate independence. The United States did little beyond efforts to curb the hard-liners activities. The Bush administration concentrated its attention on the Gorbachev reforms and refused to make any statement which might weaken his position. This is understandable: the primary American interests were in central Europe Poland and Germany and in reducing the danger of nuclear war. In contrast, the Baltic had no important resources, relatively few strong ties to the American people (the largest communities are in Chicago), and business saw little incentive to invest in nations of two to four million people whose work habits have been destroyed by five decades of Stalinism we dare not forget how badly the social fabric has been eroded, to what an extent incivility and boorishness have become a part of daily life. Lastly, American foreign policy reflected caution even about symbolic acts, lest these be perceived by future Soviet leaders as betrayals of solemn understandings not to undermine one another's vital interests: President Bush wanted future Russian leaders to feel assured that American policy would not blow wildly and unpredictably in the winds of change. This did not even change after the August coup: while Boris Yeltsin and the Europeans recognized Baltic independence, President Bush continued to talk about "problems."

As of this moment it appears that the Coup Klutz clan did Russia and the Baltic a great service: Independence for Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia came not as an escape from tyranny and oppression but as part of a democratic revolution in Russia. August 1991 gave Boris Yeltsin a moral foundation to negotiate with the Baltic states that no earlier Russian ruler ever possessed. Moreover, the Balts are in an excellent position to assist him: they know the language and culture of the Soviet Union they have technical training and expertise they have some ties to the west which could once again allow them to transfer goods and technology from Russia to Scandinavia, Germany, and England. Lastly, once freed from the present oppression, they might find they have more in common with their great neighbor than they have ever acknowledged. History is not without its surprises.

The success of the Baltic states in dealing with this new Russian depends greatly on the decree that regional planning is instituted among the Baltic states, including Finland. Small steps can be very effective in making great changes possible. For example, laws requiring that all public servants have to be able to speak both the native language and Russian practically disqualify any short-term immigrant from public employment in any Baltic state. (In South Africa such a law delivered the country into the hands of the Afrikaaners.) However, such laws can have the adverse effect of undermining the advice which everyone seems to be offering the Balts: work together. Yesterday, when the threat was real, it was easy to agree to work together tomorrow, when better times arrive, it will be all too easy to fall back into old habits and if communication among Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians is hindered by linguistic regulations, it will not be effective. Possible regional ventures would be a Baltic Olympic team (a Latvian-Lithuanian basketball squad would be likely to bring home a medal,) a common tariff policy, shared responsibilities for coast guard services and transportation, and educational policies (especially to avoid duplication of expensive services).

There are two contradictory forces at work in the world. The one is for each ethnic group to seek its own identity and its own homeland the other is to unite in larger unions. The task of all peoples, the Baltic peoples included, is to find a means of achieving both of these goals at once. Economic and political units which are no larger than a few million persons will find the future difficult. The historical experience of the Baltic peoples in cooperating with one another provides only a small foundation on which to build a larger political and economic structure that foundation must be enlarged.

Planning for cooperation will not be easy: it runs against the experience of generations, the dreams of patriotic poets, and a certain amount of self-interest. However, it must be done. The real enemy of the Baltic peoples is not Gorbachev or the hardliners, but their own past. Such an enemy is not dangerous when faced. It is even less a threat when one turns one's back on it and looks to the future.


Sobre el Autor

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, La opción Benedict, y The Little Way of Ruthie Leming— as well as Crunchy Cons y How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.


The importance of the Helsinki Accords: The last time the West respected Russia

por Adán 23 de marzo de 2017 2.3k Puntos de vista

In 1991 at a dacha in the middle of Belavezha Forest, three men conspired to end the Soviet Union in contravention not only of Soviet law, but against the stated wishes of the majority of Soviet citizens who just months earlier, voted in a referendum in which they expressed their desire to live together in a single state, the Soviet Union.

The three men who conspired against the Soviet Union, Soviet Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, Soviet Ukrainian leader and later Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Belarusian leader Stanislav Shushkevich, betrayed the wishes of their own people and those of other Soviet republics who were not invited to the dacha in Belavezha Forest.

Throughout the 1990s, the Belavezha Accords continued to haunt Russia and other states. Many who found themselves impoverished, in ill health without access to good medical care and others yet who were made refugees by the accords, asked ‘why’?

Under the leadership of President and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Russia has been able to internally and to a small degree, geo-politically, right the many wrongs unleashed by the Belavezha Accords.

As Russia and her allies continue to march back to the sunlit uplands of superpower status and internal self-sufficiency and prosperity, hindsight might dictate that another accord, one signed legally by not only the Soviet Union but by most of Europe and the United States, will have a bigger psychological impact on the future of the Russian Federation than the treachery in Belavezha.

A recent Russian poll found that since 1917, the two eras most cherished by ordinary Russians are the eras of Putin and Brezhnev.

The 1970s was Brezhnev’s decade not only at home but also abroad. It was at this time that the Soviet Union achieved a maximum amount of success in terms of military capability, internal peace and prosperity, respect in the wider world and diplomatic clarity.

At the same time, the US was reeling in the throes of a poor economy, the aftermath of Watergate, the humiliation in Vietnam and the public exposure of corruption in what we now call the deep state.

It was in 1975, that these two divergent trends, converged in Helsinki where the Soviet Union, America, Canada, Turkey, the US allied western European states, members of the Warsaw Pact and Yugoslavia came together to sign the Helsinki accords.

The accords affirmed that once and future imperialist powers would respect the borders and sovereignty of existing states, including that of the Soviet Union and her allies. It affirmed a renunciation of violence as a means of settling disputes and forced signatories to respect the right of self-determination among peoples.

The Helsinki Accords were not popular among the hawkish Cold Warriors of the west. They felt, with some degree of truth, that it meant an end to their ambitions of weakening the Soviet Union and meddling in the affairs of Soviet allies, namely the Warsaw Pact states.

The Belavezha Accords gave the western powers an opportunity to violate the Helsinki agreements, expanding NATO into former parts of the Soviet Union and throughout the wider former Warsaw Pact states. This was done in contravention of a personal agreement that US President George H.W. Bush made to the last Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev in the early 1990s.

Today, the rights of self-determination are spat on by the west, when it involves Russian people seeking to re-unite with Russia. Crimea and Donbass are the two most strident examples of this.

But geo-politics remains in flux. Russia is slowly but surely shaking off the shock and demoralisation wrought by the Belavezha Accords.

The same Russians who look fondly to the Brezhnev era, would be well instructed to re-examine the Helsinki Accords and remember a time when the west came to the Soviet Union with an olive branch. They did so because the Soviet Union was at her most powerful. When the USSR and Russia were at her most weak in the 1990s, the NATO bloc pounced and they are still pouncing.

The world is in need of a new Helsinki Accord, but one which Russia must be vigilant in safeguarding. The naïveté of Gorbachev and his right hand man Alexander Yakovlev, led the west to de-facto discard the Helsinki Accords, violating every promise they made.


Ver el vídeo: ΣΟΒΙΕΤΙΚΗ ΕΝΩΣΗ - Β ΣΕΙΡΑ (Agosto 2022).