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He was "a man of crown" as O. Poptsov said about him. He used peoples' interests and gained great authority, he was popular and moved society to resist the coup. That was not difficult - people blamed Communists for bad life and in every bad thing in the state, so, "Yeltsin had a great support and managed strengthening his power" (Gorbachev, M. Shriver, G. (translator) Gorbachev p. 121). But Yeltsin was not only supported by Soviet citizens, he was considered as the main acting person in that situation by leading Western politicians and they supported his actions. Here are the words of Western leaders about events in Moscow:
President. BUSH: It seems clearer all the time that contrary to official statements out of Moscow, that this move was extra- constitutional, outside of the constitutional provisions for governmental change. Clearly, it's a disturbing development. There's no question about that. And it could have serious consequences for the Soviet society and in Soviet relations with other countries, including the United States.
JOHN MAJOR, Prime Minister, Britain: There seems little doubt that President Gorbachev has been removed from power by an unconstitutional seizure of power. There are constitutional ways of removing the President to the Soviet Union. They have not been used.
MARGARET THATCHER, Former Prime Minister, Britain: Those cuts which were going to be implemented should not be implemented now. We must pause to see what happens.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The President said it was in the U.S. interest to go ahead with the recently signed Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, but he said the U.S. And other countries will suspend economic aid to the Soviet Union because of the coup. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft traveled with Mr. Bush on the trip from Maine to Washington. Aboard Air Force One reporters asked Scowcroft if the U.S. was considering other options to show its disapproval, including military ones." (Soviet Showdown August 19,1991 Article (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/europe/russia/1991/news_8-19.html).
The coup failed; its leaders were arrested and I can say it was defeated practically with no blood: only 3 men were killed during fighting. The coup was a real agony of USSR and new leaders came to finish the history of this great country.
On 25 December 1991 the eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union - Mikhail Gorbachev submitted his resignation. He said: "Given the current situation, I am ceasing my activities as president of the U.S.S.R." He was the first and last President of the state called the U.S.S.R.
Soviet Union's disintegration began with separation of the three Baltic States from the Soviet Union. Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia "huddle together at the east end of the Baltic Sea, rendered almost invisible and anonymous on the map by the massive dominance of the Soviet Union, into which they were incorporated over 50 years ago. But then in the late 1980s, Glasnost prised out for the Soviet people the historical truth that the Germans and the Soviets abolished the independent existence of the three countries by the "secret protocol" of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, which carved up eastern and central Europe into two spheres of influence." (Bordeaux, Michael Three Brave Nations: Baltic States (http://www.forerunner.com/forerunner/X0848_Three_Brave_Nations-.html).These states belonged to European civilization more than any other republics of the Soviet Union and, sure, they wanted independence to integrate in Europe, to continue this process, which was stopped by Stalin's and Hitler's political will. Separatism was developing in al republics of the Union but here, in these Baltic countries it was the most civilized and had own program of independent development of the state without international interference. If Caucasians wanted to get back to Muslim laws and create Islamic states, Baltic nations wanted to integrate in Europe and be a part of European society; create real democracy and get back to capitalistic way of life without outdated Marxist dogmas.
Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians are relative nations with relative culture and way of life. They were always united in their mind and during those events they stood together to gain independence. Their leaders tried to find the way out how to separate from the Soviet Union without an armed conflict. Sure, these countries could not resist Soviet Army even if they had own armed forces (Soviet Army was the strongest in the world, the same as American). "Leaders didn't hope to receive help from the West because Western leaders were afraid of interfering in Soviet affairs and it could cause terrible military conflict" (Katsiaficas, George N. After the Fall: 1989 and the Future of Freedom p. 53). Already in August 1991 Soviet Baltic Navy landed naval and land troops in that region and had an order to take control over these countries. Their separatist governments had to be arrested or terminated in case of resistance. Fortunately this order was not fulfilled. During some street fights 3 men were killed. Russia could stop disintegration of USSR but nobody even tried. All chiefs were afraid of responsibility if anything went wrong. Superior officers told their soldiers do what they had to do, but if anything went wrong they were not responsible as they didn't give any strict orders. Everybody was afraid of strange power in the country. Weak power let those countries to get out of the U.S.S.R. And other republics followed their example.
There's no need to explain the whole process of this disintegration and events in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. I'll stop on the results of their separating and its influence on political and social life in former Soviet republics.
Let us start with culture:
As we know Soviets fought against the church and especially Catholic Church. The majority of population in Baltic States was Catholic who didn't feel good about Soviet system which hated religion and tried to replace it with Communistic mind. "The KGB harassed, deported and imprisoned many Catholics; clergymen who did not fall into line were often physically beaten. Communist authorities responded by interrupting every local Christian activity outside the Church buildings, maintaining a crude campaign in the press against religion, and summoning priests to the State Offices of the Council for Religious Affairs. However, the communists could not keep the Roman Catholic clergy in line with their "progressive" policies against religious activism." (Bordeaux, Michael Three Brave Nations: Baltic States (http://www.forerunner.com/forerunner/X0848_Three_Brave_Nations-.html).But after disintegration of the Soviet Union these states started creating democratic society with equal rights and opportunities for every citizen. Church became popular again and many people joined Catholic Church because it could help them overcome that uneasy period and economical crisis. "Many Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians started paying attention to their souls and found church a power which could help them create new better life, help them win in the long and difficult process of gaining real economical independence" (Broken Empire: After the Fall of the U.S.S.R. p.12). That was a very positive event and if we compare with Russia or Ukraine we'll see that Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians managed preserving their religion, but Russia Orthodox Church became only a symbol, an embodiment of a long history of Russia but not an instrument of curing people's souls.
National languages. Russian language was the main language of the Soviet Union but local languages formally could be used in all spheres of life, but in fact only Russian was used and national languages didn't have an opportunity to develop. After gaining independence Baltic countries adopted new constitutions where they noticed that the state language is the language of their republic. They created such conditions which let all other languages be used and develop, but there was one negative moment. Many citizens of other Soviet republics lived in Baltic countries and when they were in the U.S.S.R. It didn't matter citizens of what republic they were. But when USSR was destroyed many Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians and other left in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia since these countries were their homeland where they have lived for a long time. Sure, they didn't know national languages because knowing Russian they could easily communicate. But new laws were adopted which regulated questions of citizenship: only person who knows national language can be a citizen. So, even now, after more than 10 years of independence many people can't become citizens because of their bad language. This was not really democratic law because those people have lived in the country for all their life and could be considered citizens not by nationality but by the fact of their birth on the territory of the state.
Also other branches of "culture started rapidly developing and renewing. Baltic countries started so called "national renaissance." (Katsiaficas, George N. After the Fall: 1989 and the Future of Freedom p. 124) which helped them preserve unique culture. At last they could create own culture without orders from Moscow for example to create culture of "Socialistic realism" when artists and writers were ordered to draw or write about Communism etc. That absurd particularity of culture in…[continue]
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