By Agha Iqrar Haroon
Creation of history never stops because time never stops.
On March 17, 1991 – exactly 26 years ago – the only referendum that held during the 70 years of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) existence voted over 77% to retain USSR.
However, USSR was forced to disintegrate leaving bleeding eyes of millions of people who were taught to love “Mother Land”. Disintegration of former USSR resulted birth of new states in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. What happened in early 90s is now history but also a reality connected with future.
I am sharing a letter from a friend who is celebrating her 55th birthday next week. She is of the view that her feelings about “March Referendum” should be shared with English speaking readers because according to her, the western media never shared realities and results of this Referendum.
In her letter to me, she writes:
We (Soviet people) voted “for” to retain Union, but did Gorbachev really care about the people?
Сою́з Сувере́нных Госуда́рств (Union of Sovereign States) was the proposed name of a reorganization of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics into a new confederal entity.
A thought crept into my mind:— it seems that the comrades have a bright future. The economic and political crisis in the country, by that time, has already reached its apogee. The authorities raised their foreheads, demanding legitimacy, and fraternal / non-fraternal republics already imagined how they would live well without total control as they used to live under a strong centralised power—Politburo.
In general, by the end of 1991, it was already clear to everyone – the Union is no more. Can the Soviets be saved then? Probably YES, but not with President Gorby, who, to that time, was already heavily occupied by Western special services. For them, he was “our man”.
The main purpose of the March 91 referendum was to throw dust in the eyes. Like, there will be a bright future, and you will not only be trembling creatures, but also the right … to have voices! And then the game began ….
The authorities were cheated then, as they say, not in a childlike way. Firstly, not all republics decided to ask. Thus, six union republics were left without a vote: Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia, Moldova and Armenia. By that time, they had already announced the transition to independence. By the way, they are still rushing about, now to the West, then to the East.
And what a play of words began then! After all, the guys were not too lazy, and each republic wrote individual agitation papers.
Nothing to say, crazy hands are real!
For example, in the Kazakh SSR, a vote was taken on the question: “Do you consider it necessary to preserve the USSR as a Union of equal sovereign states.” Obvious tackle to the creation of the CIS. Coincidence? I do not think so! But specifically for the “fraternal” non-leche was added a question, pouring balm on the freedom-loving Ukrainian soul: “Do you agree that Ukraine should be part of the Union of Soviet Sovereign States on the basis of the Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine?”
Agitation, clearly tailored to the national interests and political moods of each republic, poured a “song” from all teapots. By the end of the campaign, the eyes and ears of citizens were already beginning to bleed. Very thick cheating, do not you think?
Surprisingly, in spite of all this agitational tinsel, which was enthusiastically hung on the people of Gorby and Co., 76.4% of voters voted for the preservation of the union, against 21.7%.
Then Gorby and Co had no option left—- just to disintegrate Union through another drama—“August Coup” instead of signing “Union of Sovereign States Treaty”.
Results of “March Referendum” were clear that Union must stay and “Union of Sovereign States Treaty” was scheduled to be signed on August 20, 1991.
According to the script of “August Coup” drama, vice president, Gennady Yanayev, Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov, Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov, KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov and other senior officials acted to prevent the union treaty from being signed on August 19. They formed “General Committee on the State Emergency”. Script of drama suggested house arrest of Gorbachev who already left Moscow for Crimea to be away from main scene of drama. On August 21, 1991, the scene of “August Coup” ended and Gorbachev became President again and dissolved the Central Committee of the CPSU on August 24, 1991.
Dissolution of CPSU was end of Communist rule in the Soviet Union and dissolving the only remaining unifying force in the country resulted disintegration of entire USSR.
Thank you Gorby for cheating us—-
Her letter is her personal opinion based on her experiences while working within system in one of former SSR.
I believe that sharing her letter with readers may help to develop interest for further reading about this important chapter of world history.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.