Hello and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, I’m Asbed Bedrossian.
December 26, 1991, marked the day that the Soviet Union dissolved into 15 independent states, finally and officially. This giant experiment in Marxism evolving into Leninism left a tremendous mark on the history of the 20th century and its legacy continues to have a lasting impact on Eurasia to this day.
In this Conversations on Groong episode, Hovik Manucharyan and I will explore the history and legacy of the USSR, especially given that Armenia was a Soviet republic, and today, 30 years later, the two histories are inextricably interwoven.
This episode was recorded on Sunday, December 26, 2021.
To talk about this history, we are joined by:
Dr. Pietro Shakarian, who is a Lecturer in history at the American University of Armenia in Yerevan. His research focuses on the history of Eastern Armenia and the Caucasus, especially Soviet Armenia during the era of Nikita Khrushchev’s Thaw. His analyses on Russia and the former Soviet region have appeared in The Nation, The Plain Dealer, the Russian International Affairs Council, Hetq, and more.
We’re now marking the 30th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the independence of the various former soviet republics including Armenia. It’s hard to believe that it has already been 30 years, it feels like it all happened just a few years ago, especially for those of us who were around and following world politics, watching the Berlin wall crumble, etc.
1. There are so many politicized perspectives on the ways in which the USSR dissolved, but let’s get a historian’s perspective on this. How did this process actually occur? What were the driving forces and personalities behind it?
2. There are some commentators who say that the dissolution of the USSR was driven by the rise of ethnic nationalism in the various republics, such as Armenia, Georgia, and the Baltic states. Some scholars assert that this rise was the inevitable outcome of the Soviet Union’s policy on nationalities, specifically the creation of national republics. We talked a little bit about these policies a year ago, in December 2020, when you talked with us about the place of Anastas Mikoyan in Soviet history and the policy on nationalities. What is your take on this view?
3. In American political discourse, US policies are given credit for having played a role in the dissolution of the Soviet Union and that it “won the Cold War.” Some politicians even assert that US President Ronald Reagan himself was personally responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union, some say that he drove the USSR into an arms race that bankrupted it, etc. What’s your analysis of such perspectives?
4. One thing that you hear from analysts is that the dissolution of the Soviet Union occurred relatively peacefully. What do you think? Was the dissolution of the USSR a peaceful process?
We talked about the process of the dissolution, now let’s talk about outcomes.
5. What are some of the geopolitical and other impacts of the Soviet dissolution 30 years on?
6. How has the dissolution of the USSR impacted the process of democratization in the region?
7. In what ways does the Soviet legacy continue to persist in the former Soviet space, despite the fact that we now have 15 very different independent states? How is the Soviet past remembered in the republics?
8. On the 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the USSR in 2011, there were some commentators who argued that phrases like the “former Soviet Union,” “the post-Soviet space,” or the “near abroad” were no longer relevant term. Do you believe that? What about now in 2021?
9. Finally, was the dissolution of the Soviet Union inevitable? Were there alternatives to the way it dissolved into history? How critical was the role of individual leaders in setting the wheels in motion for the break-up itself and post-breakup developments?
That concludes this Conversations On Groong episode, and we hope you found it helpful. As always, we invite your feedback, you can find us on most social media and podcast platforms, or our website Groong.org.
Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on Youtube, Like our pages and follow us on social media. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week, thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you soon.
Pietro Shakarian, Soviet Union, USSR, Armenia, Dissolution, FSU, Post-Soviet, Boris Yeltsin, Michail Gorbachev, Belavezha, Anastas Mikoyan, Stalin, Lenin, Soviet Republics, Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh, Ethnic Conflict, National Republics, Policy on Nationalities,