Wednesday, December 25, 2019

‘We Live in the USSR which is Now Called Russia,’ Historian Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 23 – Vladimir Putin says that the USSR was the name Russia existed under during most of the 20th century, a position that stresses the historical continuity that he has made the centerpiece of his political program.  But historian Boris Yakemenko argues that there is another continuity, arguing that today, “we live in the USSR under the name of Russia.” 

            The deputy director of the Center for Historical Expertise at Russia’s Friendship of the Peoples University says that it is important to note that “we live in post-Soviet Russia where the most important word is ‘post-Soviet’” because “in fact,” in the minds of people across the region, “the USSR has not fallen apart” (

                The social consciousness, mindsets and language of the population weren’t changed by the documents which were signed about the end of the Soviet Union. Thus, whatever some declare, that system and that country has not really ended.  And that is shown in the fact that “the disintegration of the USSR has not been reflected in culture either.”

            Up to the present, in Russia and the other successor states, Yakemenko says, “no one besides  a clutch of those ‘greedily standing near the throne’ in  the former Soveit republics (and in essence in places that continue to be that) … takes seriously all the games at ‘freedom and independence’ and at ‘self-sufficient states’ which don’t exist, didn’t and won’t in the future.”

            The language of Soviet times has been “completely preserved,” he continues. “’Prohibit,’ ‘require,’ ‘remove,’ ‘demand,’ ‘achieve successes,’ ‘grow 10 percent,’ ‘arms race,’ ‘they are against us,’ ‘we are peaceful people but our armored train …’ and the continuing ‘in this year so many people did thus, more than when compared with last year …’”

            The rhetoric and the understandings “are the former ones,” Yakemenko continues. “Look at the hall when Putin speaks to the federal assembly. In it sit people over 65. The USSR sits there, people who do not know any other forms and means of rule than the Soviet and never saw any other forms of existence besides the socialist ones” of Soviet times.

            What all this means, he concludes, is that “the Soviet Union is alive. We live in the USSR which simply is now called Russia. And, by the way, all sociological polls constantly confirm this.” 

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