Farewell Perestroika: A Soviet Chronicle

By Boris Kagarlitsky; Rick Simon | Go to book overview

3 Popular Front or National Front?

Everyone had been waiting for this event. The Congress of the Estonian Popular Front, scheduled for October 1988, should have become a turning-point in the development of the social movement -- and not only in Estonia and the Baltic republics. For the first time in the post-Stalin era, an independent political organization in the Soviet Union was able to declare its existence openly and officially, to hold its founding congress and to appeal to society through the state-controlled mass media.

The impetuous growth of the Popular Front in Estonia had begun back in the spring when a profound struggle unfolded in this republic, as in other parts of the USSR, around the election of delegates to the Nineteenth Conference of the CPSU. However, whereas in the Russian republic it was not as a rule possible to achieve the recall of even the most unpopular deputies, in Estonia a change in the Party leadership was announced even before the Conference had begun. The local delegation set off for Moscow from a rally of a hundred thousand supporters of perestroika on Tallin's Pevcheskoe Field, which called on the republic's new leaders to fight in Moscow for radical transformations and for real independence for Estonia. The Popular Front initiative group was at the centre of these events and all hopes were pinned on it. One journalist christened this immense gathering a 'singing revolution'. And it really did seem like a a revolution with its enthusiastic masses, a change in leadership, and the formation of new mass organizations. On the streets

-39-

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Farewell Perestroika: A Soviet Chronicle
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • 1 - The Hot Summer of 1988 1
  • Notes 29
  • 2 - The Popular Front Movement in Crisis? 31
  • Notes 38
  • 3 - Popular Front or National Front? 39
  • Notes 50
  • 4 - The Restless Borderlands 51
  • Notes 78
  • 5 - A Constitutional Crisis 81
  • Notes 88
  • 6 - Election Fever 89
  • Notes 97
  • A Difficult Hegemony 99
  • Notes 109
  • 8 - The Spring Whirlpool: The Elections, Yeltsin and the Popular Front 111
  • Notes 143
  • 9 - The Congress and Around the Congress 145
  • Notes 162
  • 10 - Onward, Onward, Onward . . . 165
  • Notes 175
  • 11 - Yet Another Hot Summer 177
  • Notes 192
  • 12 - Farewell, Perestroika? 195
  • Index 211
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