The ‘late’ USSR continues to influence the minds, feelings and even the actions of particular categories of people from the ex-Soviet space even if it will be soon 31 years of its dismemberment. The experts invited to IPN’s public debate “100 years of USSR and 31 years without USSR: Nostalgia for Chimeras. Sources, ways of promotion and effects of nostalgia” discussed why it happens so and how this past influences the life of people today and tomorrow.
Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, said that the Soviet Union was founded in the place of the Russian Empire, initially without particular territories, such as Finland and Bessarabia and a part of Poland. The Soviet Union was constituted on December 30, 1922 and consisted of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Belarus and Transcaucasia.
“These entities actually entered a unitary state. The newly created state was proclaimed a dictatorship of the proletariat based on the Constitution of the Soviet Russia of 1918. In fact, it was a totalitarian state. The Communists had traditional religious views and, in fact the essence of communism is a religious phenomenon. Owing to economic inefficiency, involvement in the arms race, the prices of hydrocarbons that were one of the sources of income, the interethnic conflicts and the necessity of reforming this giant, the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, as a result of the putsch of August 19 that was followed by the parade of independent states,” said the expert, noting that the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union adopted the declaration on the end of this state entity on December 26 the same year.
According to him, “nostalgia” is defined as a feeling of sadness, melancholy, regret for past events. “This feeling has been exploited since 2004, when a special TV channels called “Nostalgia” was founded in the Russian Federation and this, having access to the archives of the television of the former Soviet Union, skillfully used the myths about social justice that dominated in the Soviet Union and all those things took roots in the post-Soviet space,” he stated.
In another development, Igor Boțan said the ‘chimeras’ are unrealizable dreams and they are widely spread in Moldova. “An opinion poll was carried out in our country on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This showed that over 50% of the respondents regretted the dissolution of the USSR. In another ten years, the number of those who grieved for the dissolution of the USSR stood at 45%. This phenomenon should be taken into account in the case of the Republic of Moldova,” stated Igor Boțan.
Victor Juc, director of the Institute of Legal, Political and Sociological Research, said the Soviet Union, by its form of organization, de iure was a federation, while de facto was a centralized state and everything in it depended on the transfers from the union budget to the economies of the union republics. “It was a totalitarian state. The political police were founded from the start to ensure the citizens obeyed the created Bolshevik communist regime. The Soviet economy always developed by extension, not intensively. The USSR was a superpower, a protagonist of the Cold War in the postwar period. This contributed to the weakening of the Soviet economy. There are multiple causes that led to the disappearance of this colossus. Except for particular dissidents, no one accepted the idea the USSR could dissolve from inside and no researcher in the field of international relations, political science or the law depicted the way in which the USSR broke up in the multiple works produced,” stated the Institute’s director.
According to him, the causes for the dissolution were multiple. “It is the economic cause, namely the channeling of multiple financial and logistical means for the military budget. Until 1988, no one in the USSR knew for sure how large the military budget was. Essential costs were incurred for armament. The second cause is related to the living standards of the citizens. The majority lived at the same level of poverty or average low, but that level was yet very low. There were infrastructure problems, related to hotels and roads. A decisive role in the democratic reform was played by the national liberation movements in the union republics, but an essential role was played by the Russian Federation that declared its sovereignty on June 12, 1990. Many see the dismemberment of the USSR as a tragedy, even as a personal tragedy,” stated Victor Juc.
According to doctor of philosophy and habilitated doctor of law Rodica Ciobanu, an ideology is a very strong instrument for influencing collective mentality. “We cannot reflect on the 31 years of independence without taking into account what was introduced in the social DNA of the citizens of Moldova during 100 years. It goes also to security system cooperation in union republics through the agency of persons who directly contributed to the promotion of the ideology and the maintaining of this system. The major involvement of the state institutions, including the law enforcement agencies that were anchored in the promotion of the ideology that dominated at that time, was another problem. The people lived in a repressive, closed, humiliating system. Another element refers to the loss of the notion of humanity that turned into a false idea of the good. In the totalitarian universe, what wasn’t banned was mandatory. The imposition of those values produced results,” stated the doctor of philosophy.
According to Rodica Ciobanu, the expectations of the Moldovan citizens, including of those many people who went to the Great National Assembly Square to support the Independence, were big. The frustrations and regrets that followed during the next 30 years have been many in number. Researchers and theoreticians consider Moldova didn’t manage to cut the main ties that linked it to the former Soviet space.
The debate entitled “100 years of USSR and 31 years without USSR: Nostalgia for Chimeras. Sources, ways of promotion and effects of nostalgia” was the 258th installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.