Putin: Soviet Collapse greatest geopolitical catastrophe


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Source:Associated Press

MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin lamented the demise of the Soviet Union in some of his strongest language to date, saying in a nationally televised speech before parliament Monday that it was "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."

In his annual address to lawmakers, top government officials and political leaders, Putin also sought to reassure skittish investors about Russia's investment climate — just two days before a ruling in the tax evasion and fraud trial of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

His statements on the collapse of the Soviet Union and its effects on Russians, at home and abroad, come as the country is awash in nostalgia just two weeks before the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe — a conflict Russians call the "Great Patriotic War."

Putin, who served as a colonel in the KGB, has resurrected some communist symbols during his presidency, bringing back the music of the old Soviet anthem and the Soviet-style red banner as the military's flag.

In the 50-minute address at the Kremlin, Putin avoided mentioning the need to work more closely with other former Soviet republics — in contrast to previous addresses — and he made passing reference to the treatment of Russian-speaking minorities in former Soviet republics.

"First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century," Putin said. "As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory. The epidemic of collapse has spilled over to Russia itself."

Russia regularly complains about discrimination against Russian-speaking minorities, particularly in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

There was no immediate reaction to Putin's speech by officials in the three Baltic countries, which have often stormy relations with Moscow. Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld said he disagreed with the statement.

"If I was in the place of the authors of the statement, I would say that the biggest event of the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet Union, which completed the process of the emancipation of nations," Rotfeld said in Luxembourg.

Putin's popularity has been dented in the past year by widespread street protests over painful social security reforms and his unsuccessful attempts to head off a popular uprising in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine.

Critics also have slammed the Russian leader for reacting to terrorist attacks last year by pushing through legislation ending the election of independent lawmakers and the popular elections of provincial governors.

The Bush administration has been stepping up its criticism of Putin, albeit gingerly so as not to alienate a partner deemed vital in the global war on terrorism.
President Bush said he raised the issue of Putin's commitment to democracy during meetings with the Russian leader in Slovakia in February. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice voiced concern over democratic backsliding and the need for the rule of law during a high-profile visit to Russia last week.

The 60th anniversary Victory Day celebrations, to be held May 9 in Moscow, will be a major celebration for Russia. Dozens of heads of state are expected to attend, including Bush, French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister
Tony Blair. Workers are frantically painting and scrubbing the city; red, star-studded posters hailing war veterans are plastered around the capital and vintage Soviet war films are being shown almost nightly on television.

Much of Putin's speech centered on assuaging the fears of investors who have been spooked by a series of contradictory and sometimes punitive legal and regulatory measures.

He said tax inspectors do not have the right to "terrorize business," and repeated a call for the time for challenging the results of past privatization deals to be cut to three years from the current 10. Foreign companies need clear "rules of the game" on which sectors of the economy are open to investment, Putin said. Russians should be encouraged to bring their undeclared earnings home rather than squirrel them away abroad, he said.

"That money must work in our country, in our economy, and not sit in offshore zones," Putin said.

Investors and analysts are closely watching how a Moscow court will rule as early as Wednesday in the criminal case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky — once Russia's richest man and now its most famous inmate. Many see the criminal trial and a parallel tax assault that has dismantled his Yukos oil empire as a Kremlin-instituted policy.

Some experts say Russia is already seeing economic growth slow as a result of Yukos, along with other cases, such as $1 billion tax bill that Anglo-Russian oil company TNK-BP now faces and antitrust authorities' decision to block a bid by Germany
Siemens AG to acquire Russian power station builder Power Machines.

Liberal politician Irina Khakamada dismissed Putin's address as "an export product" marked by "liberal rhetoric and ritual statements addressed to the West."

"Here (in Russia) we react to the actions of the prosecutor general's office and the tax inspectors. This is what's real," said political analyst Yuri Korgunyuk.

Putin was to set off for Cairo on Tuesday and then continue on to Israel — his first visit to the Middle East as Russia's president. The last Kremlin chief to make a bilateral visit to Egypt was Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1964 inaugurated the first stage in building the Aswan High Dam.


I don't think he means the political figure of Soviet, rather, teh collapse of the system was too immature. I think many people are getting worked up over his speech. In reality, Soviet lost lot of footings when democracy went into place; places that have no educational, social, and political foundation; places have no economic system nor solid plans that supported the reform.

Think about this, China is experiencing lot of problems although it took economic route instead of political one. What do you think Russia would fare taking the opposite direction without any financial backings? People are still hungry eventhogh they have democracy. Marslow model spells out clearly; in order to achieve self-actualization, one must have food to eat and place to sleep, especially a near 360 degrees turn around.
china's smiling happily with her large portion of the investment cake

india's smiling happily wiht her medium portion of the investment cake, though wants more

russia sits back running in circles wondering how to get some cake

the thing is what russia has to offer is mostly industrial, already a country in shambles from harsh industralization, this is what really blocks the route to riches
MadeInChina said:
lol, uve gotta give him grounds for trying, russia is in shambles right now, they need that kind of powerful leader

Yeah, that's my fear, exactly how Napolean, Lenin->Stalin, and Hitler got their legacies.

don't force a country to obey some foreign standards. Yes, if push too far, there will be a dictator bound to re-emerge. Gosh, give Russians and any other developing countries some room to grow.
Well see, when a leader of a country starts talking about how he regrest the collapse of the the Soviet Union; that means that he's a stone throw away from trying to get it back. How do you think NATO and the EU will react if Russia tries to take back the baltic states?
r031Button said:
Well see, when a leader of a country starts talking about how he regrest the collapse of the the Soviet Union; that means that he's a stone throw away from trying to get it back. How do you think NATO and the EU will react if Russia tries to take back the baltic states?

They wont do much i belive.
MadeInChina said:
lol, uve gotta give him grounds for trying, russia is in shambles right now, they need that kind of powerful leader

When is the last time you have been in Russia, give Russia some 6 more years and it will be back on its feet.
I certainly hope Russia does come out well in the end. Specifically, the Russian people have been screwed over by history pretty much non-stop since time immemorial.

A prosperous and flourishing Kievian Russian kingdom was brutalized by the Mongol conquest in the 1200's. Unlike most of the Mongolian holdings, the Golden Hoard held Russia for much longer than any other land conquered by the Mongols.

Then they get the reign of the Tsars, who were exploitive, absolutist and brutally overbearing rulers. True, Russia grew to enormous proportions through conquest, but her people seldom benefitted. On top of that, the Tsars of the Russian Empire really lived it up. They and the aristocrats were insanely wealthy. The common everyday Russian was very poor and very downtrodden.

And then we come to the Russian Revolution and Communism, and the same thing happens yet again. The Communist Party Members moved right into the role of the aristocracy from Tsarist Russia. Lenin was pretty brutal. Stalin gave new meaning to the word brutality. Kruschev seems to have started out on a positive note, only to revert back to the same Stalinist police state, only with a lot less mass-murdering of the Russian people.

Then we come to the collapse of Communism the end of the USSR as a nation. Every little subkingdom the Russians had held opted for independence the moment the opportunity was given them, adding insult to injury. Now we live in a time where the Russian Mafia is terrifyingly powerful in the Russian nation. The economic collapse has left bitter feelings in the hearts of many. (For some reason, the USA, NATO and Western Europe are blamed after things did not go as planned economically.)

I'd say its about time that the Russian people have a break from all the misery. They have the population, the resources and everything else they need to become a truly great nation. (In truth, most of the "greatness" of the USSR was a grand game of smoke and mirrors and deceit. For this reason, their greatness as the USSR is often vastly overstated.) They lack the population of the USA, and are far far short of India or China, but they are still pretty big.

Long story short, I'm all in favor of Russia becoming a great nation, especially if it involves the Russian people finally doing well.
russia has the potential to become something great, such as heavy metals resources and plenty of land

but wheres the capital to start this???
Russia could do nothing more and nothing less that play the Oil card, and probably gain all the capital needed to do whatever they like. If memory serves, they currently hold the second or third largest oil reserves on the planet, between them and several other former USSR states. The problem I'm predicting is that Russia wants to catch up in every category and do it too fast and all at once. It borders on being depressing how much of Russia's potential is wasted.
There is also the problem of KGB & Mafia installed in the goverment, that is a pretty high handycap. At least concerning international credibility.
Vladimir Putin is full of mystery. He always comment about how he missed the Soviet Union. I wonder what type of leader Putin would be if he was in place of Mikhail Gorbachev?
Charge 7 said:
but wheres the capital to start this???

Germany gave them something like $80 billion. I bet they're real sorry about that now.

Why did they give them such a amount of money? Apologize for WWII or something like that...Poor germans, when are they gonna stop paying for the mistakes of the past?
I believe it was as much a good will gesture as anything else and a huge plug for cooperation economically. It was certainly in their best interest to have Russia on a better financial footing and grateful to them for the support. I'm sure our German members can shed greater light on this though.
A substantial portion of German action intent on assisting Russia is simple: the Russian People were numerically the worst hit by Nazi Germany, the Russians are still somewhat pissed about it and Germany wants to do what they can as a result. That is one motivation. The second is obvious: All the necessary ingredients for an economic heavy hitter are there in Russia, it just isn't developed yet.

Vladimir Putin is full of mystery. He always comment about how he missed the Soviet Union. I wonder what type of leader Putin would be if he was in place of Mikhail Gorbachev?
Make no mistake about it, if Putin had been the man in charge in the place of Gorbachev, none of Gorby's programs would have happened. He would have held control with an iron fist, anything and everything in the old Warsaw Pact would have been violently crushed the moment they tried to break with Communism ... etc. If any Warsaw Pact members had been successful, it would have been paid for in a lot of blood. So too would any alternate version of the USSR civil war and/or collapse. The factors and causes were there, with or without Gorbachev, but Putin would never had let a peaceful transition occur. I don't think he's entirely sold on Capitalism right now. Now way he'd have gone along with Capitalistic reform back then.

Putin rose to power and remains largely based upon the promise to restore the glory of the old USSR. Much of the USSR's power was faked, some of it never existing at all. Still, many look back with a sense of longing. It would be impossible to undo everything, but I truly think he would if he were able.
Notice how well off the main political figures in Russia are through corruption. Just recently a millionare was sent to jail for not paying taxes and his whole buisness was taken by the government. With Putin, all that needs to be said is that he is a KGB man to the core. I don't believe he really cares for the democracy at all.