The Newly Independent States of Eurasia: Handbook of Former Soviet Republics

The Newly Independent States of Eurasia: Handbook of Former Soviet Republics

The Newly Independent States of Eurasia: Handbook of Former Soviet Republics

The Newly Independent States of Eurasia: Handbook of Former Soviet Republics

Synopsis

This new edition features up-to-date statistical profiles of each of the republics that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union, covering demography, government, education, economics, geography, and communications, based on the most recent and reliable sources available. Each profile is followed by a succinct summary of that country's geography and history, a map, and an analysis of its current political, cultural, and economic issues. The book also contains general maps of various regions, a detailed glossary, extensive bibliographies, and a thoroughly cross-referenced index.

Excerpt

Many voices in the late 1960s and early 1970s had begun to predict the imminent and unavoidable collapse of the Soviet empire. Soviet dissidents, some open and outspoken, others silent and hidden, were sure this collapse would come quite soon. Still, it caught most people in the West--and not only in the West--surprisingly unprepared.

How well I recall those compelling "Moscow kitchen sessions" of the 1970s and early 1980s, when we discussed within a close circle of friends and colleagues possible scenarios for such a collapse. Our projections concerning the basic events and their sequence proved amazingly accurate, but we were utterly wrong on the timing. We predicted that a "Gorbachev"--one of our generation, born in the early 1930s--would become general secretary of the Communist Party around 1992. (Gorbachev himself was little known in the 1970s, and unforeseen as the one likely to pull the trigger leading to collapse.) In such a scenario, conflicts would develop in the late 1990s-- we thought a crisis in the Farghona Valley in Central Asia would precede the Karabakh conflict in Transcaucasia. The secession of the Baltic republics would be followed by the break-up of the entire Kremlin axis in the early 2000s.

In fact, all this happened at least 10 years earlier than anticipated, even by those inside the system who were better informed about the latent volcanic activity present in Soviet society. Our Western colleagues, meanwhile, seemed to think that the stagnation of the Soviet imperial system would simply continue for an indeterminate period of time.

Soviet anthropologists by the late 1950s and early 1960s already had recognized the growing interethnic tensions in their society. These tensions, while well known to specialists, were never allowed to be published openly. Our "top-secret" classified reports submitted to the Communist Party Central Committee after each season's fieldwork were received grudgingly. We were often told from the top that we exaggerated the miserable conditions of the minorities of the far north, and so on. It was astonishing to what extent wishful thinking had become the basic modus operandi among the Party's top brass during the Brezhnev era (1964-82).

Perhaps only Iurii Andropov (Communist Party general secretary, 1982-84) really knew and understood the true scale of the threat . . .

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