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The day of Russia or the day of the end of the Soviet Union?

By Nuell Peterside
09 June 2022   |   2:58 pm
On 12 June, in the conditions of the unprovoked full-scale war of Russia against Ukraine, during which Moscow has already lost 31,000 military servicemen, the Russians will be celebrating the ‘Day of Russia.’ This holiday is celebrated annually, on the date when the Declaration on state sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic was adopted…

Russian President Vladimir Putin leaves Red Square after the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow on May 9, 2022. – Russia celebrates the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany during World War II. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

On 12 June, in the conditions of the unprovoked full-scale war of Russia against Ukraine, during which Moscow has already lost 31,000 military servicemen, the Russians will be celebrating the ‘Day of Russia.’

This holiday is celebrated annually, on the date when the Declaration on state sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic was adopted on 12 June 1990. On the same date in 1991, Boris Yeltsyn was elected as the President of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Initially, this holiday was celebrated as “Russia’s Independence Day.” Since everybody was asking questions from whom the independence was declared, the holiday was renamed the “Day of Russia” in 1998.

The declaration on state sovereignty of the Russian Federation was the very document, which ceased the “parade of sovereignties” of the former Soviet republics. That historical moment does not comply with the Putin’s story of Russia, which restores the Soviet Union, which it had destroyed. The Russian Federation was the first among the “Slavic” republics, which declared independence.

After that, Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other republics of the former Soviet Union, as well as some regions, particularly Chechnya, Tatarstan, Ural People’s Republic, Bashkir Republic, Buryat Republic and others, adopted Declarations on State Sovereignty.

However, Moscow did not want to let Chechnya go. The Russian side was alleging genocide of the Russian population in Chechnya and according to its official representatives, it was one of the reasons for the conflict. That caused the first Russia and Chechnya war which lasted between December 11, 1994 and August 31, 1996, and which ended by victory of Chechen armed forces and withdrawal of the Russian troops from Chechnya and led to actual acknowledgment of Chechnya’s independence.

On September 30, 1999, in his interview to the Russian newspaper “Commersant”, the head of the government of Russia, Vladimir Putin, said that there would be no new war against Chechnya.

In the evening of the same day, the tanks of the Russian army entered the territory of Chechnya. The second Chechen war, which was officially named counterterrorist operation, lasted over 10 years, ended on April 16, 2009, and claimed over 20,000 lives of the military servicemen and 125,000 civilians.

Today the Russian propaganda interprets the events of 1990 as such that Russia allegedly “released” the republics in return to their neutrality and undertaking not to join any military unions. However, in reality, Putin has always referred to the Soviet Union dissolution as to the greatest geo-political catastrophe of the 20th century. In 2015, Putin said that pursuant to the Soviet Union collapse, the Russian people are “the most divided people in the world.” In December 2021, three months before the beginning of the second wave of Russia’s war against Ukraine, in film Russia: The Newest History, Putin stated that for him, the collapse of the USSR became tragedy and collapse of historical Russia.

His words: “After all, what is the collapse of the Soviet Union? It is a collapse of the historical Russia named the Soviet Union… We became a totally different country. What had been achieved over thousands of years was to a large extent lost.”

According to Putin’s estimates, his country lost 40 per cent of territory, production capacities and population.

Putin believed that a lot of Russians “at the same time found themselves abroad” without possibility to come back to the motherland as there was neither work nor accommodation.” He called the collapse of the Soviet Union the “great humanitarian tragedy.”

Majority of Russians states and cultural prominent figures supported Putin’s policy. For example, Mikhail Veller (writer) said that “… the 12th of June is the beginning of conscious and purposeful dissolution of the USSR. Nothing good came out of it for any of the states in the former Soviet territory with the exception of the Baltic States, which have their own history.”

Yevgeniy Minchenko (political technologist): “…I have very contradictory attitude towards to this holiday because it was one of the stages of the Soviet Union collapse, which was not bloodless. I do not celebrate this holiday. I think that it was not a big holiday but it was one of the phases of what Vladimir Putin called “the biggest geo-political catastrophe of the 20th century.” I do not think that this is the reason for celebration.”

Andrey Zubov (historian, ex Professor of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations): “…I think very well about this date as it was an act not only preceding the collapse of the Soviet Union, but also declaring that Russia gets on the way of liberation from the communist regime, which ended in December 1991. The cost of this liberation was the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia has started on the way of building non-communist state.”

The second thing is that Russia did not manage to build it and the reason for this is very simple; unlike other countries of the socialist Europe where systemic principles of de-communization were adopted (institution of property rights, etc.), Russia did nothing. Moreover, nobody even knew what should be done to break up with the past. They thought that it was only sufficient to change the flag. Nothing of the sort. In fact, these are all deep economic questions.

Hence, we came back to what we left. That is there was no de-communization and actually now, in today’s Russia, Putin is an improved variant of the USSR. Even if a little freer than the USSR. However, in essence, the same. That is why I appreciate the events of 1990 to 1991 as an attempt of liberation, which we have not realized yet.”

Putin always dreamt about restoration or recreation of the new Soviet Union on the basis of the existing Russia and the former Soviet republics, which had been independent states for 30 years, joining it. However, Putin does not care about the opinion of the citizens of other countries and he uses force at his will, as it happened in Ukraine.

In 2014, in order to restore the former USSR, Putin started war against Ukraine. Just like in Chechnya, Russia alleged that the Russian speaking people in Ukraine are oppressed. So, in order to protect them, Russia annexed the Crimea Peninsula and a part of the East of Ukraine, and on February 24, 2022, Russia started full-scale aggression against Ukraine. Three months of mean, cruel and senseless war have passed. The Russians ask questions: why and what for? Also, friendly countries and people all over the world that support Ukraine ask those questions.

Let us look at the monuments that the Russian occupiers are installing and what flags they are flying on the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine – the Russian and USSR flags.

The USSR was not able to exist without wars; that is why it was to be expected that the Putin’s Russia would follow the same way. And Russia did Ichkeria, Georgia, Syria, Libya and now Ukraine.

War was an essential part of the Soviet Communist Party’s worldview; that is why the USSR kept getting involved in conflicts, including meaningless war in Afghanistan. Putin is a product of this system and he was not able to act differently.

In 1991, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus had ended the USSR. So, in Putin’s opinion, these three countries must “correct the mistake” now. The modern Belarus, after the “elections” of 2020 and bloody suppression of protests, came under full control of Russia.

The independent Ukraine is a problem for Putin. The allegations about the threat from NATO is just a smoke-screen. After the start of a full-scale war of the Russia against Ukraine, Finland and Sweden decided to join NATO and Putin did not see anything terrible for Russia in this NATO expansion.

Ukraine’s rapprochement with the European Union, which became reality at the end of 2013, threatened Putin’s plans. Hence, the “special operation” initiated on February 24, 2022, intended to replace the authority in Kyiv after the pattern of Prague and Budapest, and to start preparation of the new union sometime in the fall of 2022.

In October this year, Putin will be 70. He would be really glad to make himself a present in the form of the new Soviet Union. Can you imagine how triumphing for him would be completion of the Putin’s era (and this is sure to happen)?

For Putin that would remedy “the biggest mistake” of the USSR collapse; avenge for the defeat in the Cold War against the West; revenge for the unification of Germany; revenge for “humiliation” of Russia “by ignoring” the Moscow’s protests against expansion of NATO and the EU.

It is clear for all that Putin loves symbols and the new USSR 2.0 should become his personal symbol, no matter how ridiculous this idea is.