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August 23 2011

Il y a vingt ans en URSS

Le coup de force des 18-21 août 1991 à Moscou, « tentative désespérée » de sauver l'URSS d'une dislocation inévitable, a précisément dégagé la voie à cette implosion et à la « thérapie de choc » ultralibérale des partisans de Boris Eltsine. Comment expliquer cet effet aussi « contre-productif » de l'aventure ? (...) / Russie, URSS, Communisme, Histoire, Libéralisme, Privatisation - La valise diplomatique

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// oAnth

Other entries to the 20th anniversary of the End of the Soviet Union on soup.io - oAnth - you find here

August 22 2011

August 20 2011

02mydafsoup-01

3sat.Mediathek - Video: Ende einer Supermacht - Der Putsch gegen Gorbatschow (19/08/11)

Ende einer Supermacht - Der Putsch gegen Gorbatschow

Die Welt hält am 19. August 1991 den Atem an: Panzer in Moskau. Kommunistische Hardliner haben Gorbatschow an seinem Urlaubsort festgesetzt. Der Westen befürchtet die Wiedergeburt des Kalten Kriegs.


Other entries to the 20th anniversary of the End of the Soviet Union on soup.io - oAnth - you find here


02mydafsoup-01
Other entries to the 20th anniversary of the End of the Soviet Union on soup.io - oAnth - you find here

August 19 2011

Russia: Bloggers Remember 20th Anniversary of August Coup

On August 19, 2011, Russians commemorate 20 years since the “August Putsch,” (August Coup) a failed coup d'etat conducted by a number of KGB officers and military units who were opposed to Gorbachev's reform program and decentralisation of power to the Soviet republics. Citizens took to the streets to defend the White House, the then-residence of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation, against the coup.

The Russian blogosphere - divided as usual - has been discussing the 20th anniversary of the Coup, an event which has numerous contesting interpretations. Will bloggers succeed in transferring the hope for democracy and freedom felt by the defenders of the government to the younger generation?

Boris yeltsin, in front of the white house, moscow, 19 august 1991. photo: itar-tass, wikipedia

Boris Yeltsin, in front of the White House, Moscow, 19 August 1991. Photo: ITAR-TASS, Wikipedia

Betrayal or democratic victory?

Detailed diaries of the Coup period have been shared online by oleg_kozyrev [ru], yustas [ru] (Sergey Yushenkov, whose father actively defended the White House), babushkinskaya [ru], hasid [ru], Adele Kalinichenko [ru] at ej.ru, and others.

Mikhail Gorbachov, former president of the USSR, gave a detailed interview at Echo.msk.ru [ru].

Boris Akunin, a famous writer, recollected [ru]:

Это один из самых важных моментов в моей жизни. Впервые, в тридцатипятилетнем возрасте, я понял, что живу дома, что это моя страна.
[…]
Августовские события 1991 года – единственное, за что наше поколение может себя уважать.
Больше, увы, пока хвастать нечем.

This was one of the most important moments in my life. For the first time, when I was 35, I understood that's my home, that's my country.
[…]
The August events of 1991 - they are the only thing our generation can be respectful of.
So far, alas, there's nothing [else] to be proud of.

At the same time, there were also those who supported [ru] the conspirators:

21 августа мне стало ясно, что мою страну захватили враги, в Кремле измена и надо уходить в партизаны. […] казалось, кроме нас троих измену в Кремле и вражескую оккупацию Родины никто не заметил.

On August 21 [the end of the Coup and the victory of pro-democracy forces] it became clear to me, that my country was conquered by the enemies, there's a betrayal in the Kremlin, and I should go guerrilla. […] It seemed, that except the three of us, no one had noticed the betrayal in the Kremlin and the enemy occupation of our Motherland.

Despite supporting the idea of the Coup, conservative user ros_sea_ru wrote [ru] he was proud to be with the people against the KGB, even the people ‘were wrong at that time.'

Blogger Hasid, wrote [ru] that 1991 was probably the only time, when Russia had a national idea:

Россия должна стать частью европейского пространства (не только в географическом, но и культурном, правовом и т.д. смыслах). […] В 1991 году эта идея была, её большинство вслух не могло сформулировать из-за многовековой атрофии голосовых связок, но внутри она жила. Что вот сейчас откроют границы, люстрируют вохру и туземных служителей колониальной фактории. Независимый суд, многопартийная система, ну и прочий базовый набор добродетелей белых людей.

[the idea was that] Russia should be the part of the European space (not only in terms of geography, but also culture, law, and other spheres). […] In 1991 there was this idea, but the majority couldn't formulate it due to many centuries of our vocal ligament atrophy, but inside this idea was alive. The idea that now the borders will be opened, the military guards and all officials of our colonial factory will be lustrated. Independent court system, multi-party system, and the following basic set of all proper virtues of ‘the white people.'

Generation gap - Important threat for the blogosphere

Russian bloggers from different political clusters of the blogosphere reflect on the August 1991 events almost every year, comparing the dramatic events with the contemporary political situation (see Global Voices reports from 2006 and 2007).

The reflections and recollections change from year to year, as does the overall discourse on the event. A survey [ru], conducted by the Levada Center since 1994, indicates that the perception of the Coup has significantly changed from a ‘routine power struggle episode' (the dominant interpretation in the 1990s) to a historical point ‘that had dramatic consequences for the country and its people' (see illustration below).

Reactions to august coup in russia, 1994-2011. source: levada.ru, illustration: alexey sidorenko

Reactions to August Coup in Russia, 1994-2011. Source: Levada.ru, Illustration: Alexey Sidorenko

At the same time, it is only the educated and more professional minority (7-10 percent of the population) that supports the ‘democratic' version of the event; interestingly, this percentage was not that different in the 1990s - before the Internet was widely introduced.

The interpretation of the August Coup is also age-dependent. While for those bloggers who personally remember the events (and some of them were among the actual defenders of the White House), the failure of the coup was something to be proud of, it is likely that younger bloggers completely miss its historical importance.

Oleg Kozyrev mocked [ru] the contemporary ‘mythical' narrative of the August Coup actively pushed by propagandists, like Nikolay Starikov, one of the main ideologists of the pro-Kremlin ‘Nashi' youth movement (see his interpretation here [ru]):

Заботящиеся о стране патриоты из КГБ хотели спасти ее от развала. […] Именно поэтому в Москву ввели войска […]Но тут вмешались США. Они наняли Ельцина погубить СССР. […]Ельцин окружил Белый дом людьми, которых все три дня путча он постоянно обманывал.А потому путч как-то закончился и Ельцин захватил власть.Демократы тут же все разворовали и страна, буквально купавшаяся в роскоши до 1991 года вмиг опустела и обнищала.

KGB patriots that cared about the country wanted to save it from collapse. […] This is why they brought military forces to Moscow […] But then the United States intervened. They hired Yeltsin to destroy the USSR. […] Yeltsin surrounded the White House with the people whom he constantly fooled. And this is why the coup somehow ended and Yeltsin took the power. The democrats had immediately stolen everything and the country that was leading a life of luxury [e.g. see some pics of the 1991 situation here] in a moment became empty and poor.

Whatever discourse dominates online, some of the conspirators' ideas from 1991 are evident in 2011, as Andrey Malgin sadly noted [ru]:

Из Постановления № 1 Государственного комитета по чрезвычайному положению в СССР (19 августа 1991 г.):
4. Приостановить деятельность политических партий, общественных организаций и массовых движений.
[…]
8. Установить контроль над средствами массовой информации…

From the Decree No.1 of Government Committee of the Extraordinary Situation (GKChP) in USSR (August 19, 1991):
4. Stop the activity of political parties, civil society organizations, and mass movements.
[…]
8. Take control over the mass media…

August 18 2011

02mydafsoup-01

Russian telescope launch pulls national space program out of black hole - CSMonitor.com | 2011-07-19

The Zenit - 3F carrier rocket with the Spektr-R radio astronomy observatory aboard takes off from the Bakinour Cosmodrome.

Oleg Urusov/AFP/Newscom


[...]

Once it is fully operational, the new radio telescope will sync up with ground-based observatories to form the biggest telescope ever built. It will be known as RadioAstron, with a "dish" spanning 30 times the Earth's diameter. Experts say it will be able to deliver images from the remote corners of the universe at 10,000 times the resolution of the US Hubble Space Telescope.

[...]

"It's been planned since the 1980s, but has repeatedly fallen through for a variety of reasons. But now it's here, and we're bracing for all the new information it's going to deliver, especially about black holes," he says.

The space-based component is actually a small radio telescope, with a 10-meter dish that's far smaller than Earth-based radio telescopes, planted in an elliptical orbit about 340,000 kilometers (more than 212,000 miles) from Earth. But when its signals are combined with those of ground-based radio telescopes through a process known as interferometry, it effectively becomes one single telescope with a "dish" as large as the distance between its components, which will be able to deliver unprecedented pictures of mysterious cosmic phenomenon, such as quasars, pulsars, and supernovae.

[...]

Scientists from more than 20 countries will participate in RadioAstron's five-year mission, according to the Russian Space Agency.

Russia's space program fell on hard times after the collapse of the USSR 20 years ago, and even a few years ago appeared to be little more than a "space taxi" to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

[...]

Reposted bycygenb0ckylem235astronomygroupalphabetscience
02mydafsoup-01
[...]

In the West, the failure of the putsch is still considered to be the heroic victory of Boris Yeltsin and the Russian people over the last guard of the Soviet evil empire in the West. And there is no question that the coup touched off the peaceful collapse of one of the most heavily armed superpowers in the history of the world.  It also signalled the end of the Cold War and a period of US hyperpower status. But triumph of good over evil?  Well...

The Russian people certainly do not think so. A recent poll in Russia by the Levada center (July 15-19, 2011) reveals that an increasing number of Russians now view the failure of the August coup as "tragic news having disastrous consequences for the country." (up to 39% from 36% last year). The majority of others surveyed saw the coup as simply "a struggle for power at the highest levels of Russian government." Only 10% see the news as a victory for democratic revolution. 

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Putsch, how should we understand these poll numbers?  Would the coup plotters have instigated the same reforms as Yeltsin and the other republic leaders?  Would they have spared Russia and the other Soviet republics the hyperflation and turmoil of the 1990s?

[...]


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You find other entries in occasion of the 20th anniversary from the End of the Soviet Union on, here.
Putin Watcher: 20 Years Since the Fatal Blow to the Soviet Union | 2011-08-16
Reposted bycheg00 cheg00
02mydafsoup-01

August 17 2011

August 15 2011

Russia: “On the Eve of Collapse”

To mark the upcoming 20th anniversary of the August 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, OpenDemocracy.net publishes two excerpts from Susan Richards' 1990 book, “Epics of Everyday Life: Encounters in a Changing Russia.”

U.S.: The Soviet Arts Experience in Chicago

Poemless posts an overview of some of the current exhibitions taking place in Chicago as part of The Soviet Arts Experience, “a 16-month-long showcase of works by artists who created under (and in response to) the Politburo of the Soviet Union.”

March 05 2011

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The end of the Cold War, the reunification of Germany, liberalism and Perestroyka. The USSR's first and last president, Mikhail Gorbachev celebrates his 80th birthday today, and his legacy includes being hailed as the father of Russia's democracy. Mikhail Gorbachev was born in a small village in the south of the country, and became leader of the USSR in 1985. With his economic and political reforms, he paved the way for democracy in Russia. His best known reform is dubbed "Perestroyka", which aimed to revamp the country without destroying the basis of socialism. His initiatives also led to the abolishment of state censorship and the creation of free speech in the country. Gorbachev received the Nobel peace prize in 1990. A year later, however, he was removed from power in a coup which saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and Boris Yeltsin become president. But Mikhail Gorbachev still says his reforms were timely and necessary. "We realized from experience that it was dangerous to wait much longer, that we had to take a risk," he told RT in an interview. "But we couldn't postpone it, we needed changes." Gorbachev does not agree when people say that Perestroyka failed: "It didn't fail. It was disrupted, derailed, stopped. But still, Perestroyka achieved a lot. Inside Russia, we had democracy, free elections, freedom of consciousness, private property, freedom to travel abroad --everything. Also, glasnost. There was so much openness -- the entire country was affected. People realized they had finally got some freedom, an opportunity to act." The first USSR president points out that the end of the Cold War was among key goals of his administration: "In foreign affairs, we put an end to the Cold War. We normalized our relationship with the US, we reunited Germany -- we didn't send our tanks or troops there. All our units in Eastern Europe stayed where they were. It wasn't always easy." However, many things did not work as planned, Gorbachev confessed. "At the beginning, when we made our first mistakes, we didn't really explain to people what was going on and didn't get them involved in all those processes -- we were self-confident," he said. "But in public politics, I don't think we ever lost a major battle," Mikhail Gorbachev concluded.
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