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10th Anniversary of the Collapse of the Old USSR, Current Status of Russia Is …

10th Anniversary of the Collapse of the Old USSR, Current Status of Russia Is …

Posted December. 10, 2001 09:12,   


`The last 10 years of thorny path, but the wheel of history that cannot be restored`.

Does this phrase sum up the mixed feelings of Russians, who face the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the old USSR on Sunday?

Russia and 14 republics under the old USSR did not celebrate the 10th anniversary of the breakup of the USSR, which changed not only their own history but also the world history. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who returned from his three-day official visit to Greece, did not mention at all about the anniversary.

Ten years ago, Boris Yeltchin from Russia, Leonid Kravchuk from Ukraine, and Stanley Slav Shaushikevichi from Belarus decided to disintegrate the USSR in a cabin in Belarus, and made it known to the world by notifying it to the former President George Bush through phone call. Since the, unlike leaders` expectation that Russia and 14 republics would develop market economy and liberal democracy, the 10 years of Russia and 14 republics have been developed differently.

Russia suffered super-inflation and recession, which appeared due to the bad side effects of the 1993 reform, and the Russia`s market economy was almost ruined due to the currency devaluation in 1998, default of an obligation, and the bankruptcy. Republics, which attained the independence after the disintegration of the USSR, had to go through financial difficulties, cruel internal war, authoritative ruling system, wars with the neighboring countries and races.

According to the phone call survey of 2,000 Russians by the `Romir`, an independent public opinion survey organization, 72 percent of the respondents said, "We feel regretful over the collapse of the USSR." and 58 percent answered, "We could have prevented the collapse of the USSR." This shows that Russians still have strong lingering attachment to the USSR.

The Liberal Yabuloko Party`s vice president Sergei Ibanenko`s statement seems to represent the public sentiment. "I agree with a political scientist who said that `those who do not express regret over the collapse of the USSR do not have warm hearts, but those who want to restore the USSR are crazy people`. There is no return to the past." said he.

Shaushikevichi, who agreed with Yeltchin about disintegration of the USSR on the same day ten years ago, said, "I have no regret over it. What we did was right, and there is not a sentence, even not a single word that needs to be changed."

However, he receives pension only equal to 2 dollar every month after the retirement, and the Alexander Lukasenko regime of Belarus exactly resembles the former authoritative Kremlin regime.

There is some positive evaluation in the Russian political and scholarly circles that the individual freedom, democracy, and the market economy have been progressed for the last 10 years since the disappearance of the authoritative communist system. According to the positive evaluation, Perestroyka (reform) policy of the former president Mikhail Gorbachyov was connected to the reform acceleration of the former Yeltchin to lay the foundation by which freedom and market companies flourish. Although Russia experienced economic crises, it was also said to show the sign of economic recovery since the Putin administration. For the last two years, Russia was also said to have made balanced budget for the first time since the collapse of the USSR, and to have begun to make stable economic development even in the adverse condition of the stagnation of the world economy. However, according to the foreign press, President Putin admits that Russia is much behind the former USSR, which eulogized the rank of the world`s super power.

Hong Eun-Taek euntack@donga.com