Thursday, September 29, 2022

Real Tragedy of 1991 was Spread of False Notion that Path to Freedom would be Quick and Easy, Shapovalova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 28 – Vladimir Putin has said frequently that the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century was the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. But Russian commentator Marina Shapovalova says that an even greater catastrophe was the spread of the false notion that the path from authoritarianism to freedom would be quick and easy.

            Within Russia and the other former Soviet republics, that led to the idea that a relatively small number of things had to be done to achieve freedom, she says; and beyond its borders, it led to the conviction that now that these countries had declared themselves democracies, there was no more to be done (

            Now, everyone is seeing that the path from authoritarianism to freedom is long and difficult and that far greater efforts were needed to achieve it. In Shapovalova’s view, it would have been better if what happened in 1991 had occurred over a longer period rather than all at once. Then people would have seen more clearly what needs to be done.

            But that did not happen, and now all of the peoples of the former Soviet space and indeed the world as a whole are paying a high price. What is critical is that they recognize their earlier mistakes and the need to do now and in the future what they failed to do earlier. Otherwise, the coming years will be bleak indeed, a complete reversal of the hopes of 30 years ago. 

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