eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1997
Acta cover
Acta Historica Tallinnensia
ISSN 1736-7476 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-2925 (Print)


On kirjeldatud, refereeritud ja analüüsitud Nõukogude Liidu lagunemise kajastumist Vene (Nõukogude) riigi- ning ühiskonnategelaste mälestustes, mis on ilmunud peamiselt viimase kümne aasta vältel Venemaal. Autoritest on vaatluse all NSV Liidu president ja NLKP peasekretär Mihhail Gorbatšov, tema lähimad abid Anatoli Tšernjajev ning Andrei Gratšov, literaat ja endine dissident Aleksandr Zinovjev, KGB esimees Vladimir Krjutškov, KGB erukindral Vjatšeslav Šironin, NSV Liidu Ministrite Nõukogu esimees Nikolai Rõžkov, Venemaa Föderatsiooni esimene valitsusjuht Jegor Gaidar, prominentsed poliitikud ning Vene Riigiduuma liikmed Dmitri Rogozin ja Aleksei Mitrofanov. Viimasel ajal Venemaal tugevnenud impeeriumi nostalgia avaldab mõju ka memuaar­kirjandusele, kus Liidu lagunemise kohta on kaks vastandlikku vaatepunkti: 1) impeeriumi hukk oli loomulik ja see tulnuks ammu lammutada; 2) Liit tulnuks säilitada ja seda saanuks arukama tegut­semise korral ka teha. Nii Gorbatšov kui ka tema oponendid unitaarriigi pooldajate ringkonnast on veendunud, et Liitu saanuks säilitada. Mõlemad süüdistavad teineteist ja Boriss Jeltsinit impeeriumi lagundamises. Moderniseerimise teooria pooldajad kalduvad üliriigi kadumise põhjuseks pidama pigem kommunismi ja nõukogude süsteemi kriisi. Balti rahvaste vabadusliikumisel oli Nõukogude Liidu lagunemisel tähtis, kuid mitte peamine roll nagu iseseisvunud Venemaal.


The article provides reference and analysis of the representation of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the memoirs written by Russian (Soviet) state and public figures, published in Russia predominantly within the past decade. The authors discussed include President of the Soviet Union and Secretary General of the CPSU Mikhail Gorbachev, his closest aides Anatoli Chernyayev and Andrei Grachov, writer and former dissident Alexandr Zinovyev, KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov, retired KGB General Vyacheslav Shironin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union Nikolai Ryzhkov, the first government head of the Russian Federation Yegor Gaidar, prominent politicians and members of the Russian State Duma Dmitri Rogozin and Alexei Mitrofanov.

The imperialistic nostalgia that has been rearing its head in Russia recently has made a substantial impact on political memoirs. Two contrasting opinions prevail as regards the debacle of the Soviet Union: (1) the downfall of the empire re­presented a natural course of events, and the Soviet Union ought to have been demolished long ago; and (2) the Soviet Union ought to have been preserved, which would have been indeed possible if the actions taken had displayed a greater degree of sensibility. Gorbachev and his opponents the derzhavniks agree that it would have been possible to sustain the Soviet Union. Both sides, however, keep accusing each other and President Yeltsin of destroying the state. The advocates of the modernisation theory, on the other hand, tend to blame the crash of the superpower on the crisis of communism and the Soviet system. The majority of the authors listed above proceed from the assumption that it was possible, and even more so, imperative to retain the Soviet Union seeing that the consequences of its disintegration extending into the present day are disastrous. They are trying to convince the audience of the correctness of their action from the perspective of avoiding the catastrophe.

It is useless to look for competent and honest answers to all questions in the memoirs of leading Russian politicians. Rather, one has to put up with the plurality of truths, as is common in historiography. The leading figures of the period of perestroika keep justifying their own actions and accusing their one-time antagonists and opponents, thus fighting for their place in history. Settling of old accounts, public enmity and hatred, deliberate lies and provocations, slander and fabrications and extreme irrationalism are by far not exceptional. Severe accusations of crime, genocide, conspiracy, treason, etc. are being hurled at one another. The various domestic and external conspiracy theories, particularly those originating in the former KGB circles, can be viewed as a fruit of extreme subjectivism and fantasy. The Russian memoir literature does not feature any consensus on the extinction of the empire. 

All the advocates of the preservation of the Soviet Union, including Gorbachev, blame the collapse on the local elites, separatists, nationalists, and party nomenklatura, citing the desire to get a bite of the public property rather than the nation’s desire for freedom as the leading motive. Those who idealise the empire mostly discard any actual analysis of the national issue, instead eulogising the unprecedented burgeoning of nations under the Soviet regime and socialism as such.

These memoirs demonstrate that the liberation movements of the Baltic peoples played a very important, in some aspect even pioneering role in the annihilation of the Soviet Union, whereas the principal underlying reason was Russia’s own pursuit of sovereignty. Some derzhavniks’ writings on the Baltic issue are over­flowing with blatant fabrications and propaganda lies.

However, a shift has occurred in the attitudes of the democratic wing of the Russian elite towards the Baltic states. The former allies in the anti-communist struggle are now seen as “ungrateful nationalists” discriminating against Russians with their language and citizenship policies. Neither derzhavniks nor democrats recognise the occupation, instead using the euphemism “incorporation”. Even though the Russian Federation has officially declared itself the legal successor of the Soviet Union, no association between these two entities is recognised as far as the Baltic issue is concerned. Democrats believe that historical injustice has been fully atoned for by the fact that the Baltic peoples were set free in 1991 without any preconditions. 

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