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People did not wish USSR’s collapse, were tired of Communism — France’ former ambassador

On December 8, 1991, the leaders of the RSFSR, Ukraine and Belarus met to sign an agreement to establish a Commonwealth of Independent States and dissolve the Soviet Union
Jean de Gliniasty Valery Sharifulin/TASS
Jean de Gliniasty
© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

PARIS, December 8. /TASS/. The Soviet people were tired of Communism and rejected even its mild form, but they did not wish the Soviet Union’s collapse, the head of the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, France's former ambassador to Russia Jean de Gliniasty, told TASS in an interview on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Belovezh Accords.

"It is essential to distinguish between the collapse of Communism and the collapse of the Soviet Union," he said. "People in Russia no longer wished Communism, even its humanized form proposed by Mikhail Gorbachev," he said. At the same time the expert believes that "a majority of Soviet citizens did not wish the Soviet Union’s breakup."

"This was well seen in the results of the referendum on the creation of the Union of Sovereign States," Gliniasty said. "Such a union would be a means of preserving the Soviet Union and a far more explicit one that the CIS, which Boris Yeltsin created in December 1991."

In his opinion, the oil price slump was one of the factors for the Soviet Union’s breakup.

"Certainly, it was an important factor, but not the decisive one, because the Communist system no longer worked," he stressed.

Mitterrand’s proposals

Gliniasty recalled that the then French president, Francois Mitterrand addressed the Soviet bloc countries with a proposal for creating a European confederation based on partnership by the European Union and the East European countries.

"After the dissolution of the Soviet bloc Europe’s security would have been far better guaranteed by a confederation which Mitterrand proposed," the expert believes. "However, most member-countries of the former Soviet bloc preferred to join NATO, while Russia failed to conclude an agreement with the Western countries on this score."

Confidence-building measures

Gliniasty recalled that before the Soviet Union’s demise international stability had rested upon a number of international agreements to which Moscow was a signatory.

"There were the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the treaty on the elimination of intermediate and shorter-range missiles (INF), the treaty on conventional forces in Europe (CFE) and the Open Skies Treaty," he said. "Some of these agreements exist no more, while others are in the sleep mode."

The French expert believes that "the security situation in Europe is worse than in the Cold War era."

"Maintaining security in modern conditions in the light of China’s rise and the emergence of a multi-polar system is a far more complex task," Gliniasty said. "It is to be hoped that the world will manage to obtain collective security instruments like those which existed during the Soviet era."

Belovezh Accords

On December 8, 1991, the leaders of the RSFSR, Ukraine and Belarus: Boris Yeltsin, Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislav Shushkevich met at the Viskuli countryside retreat (the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park in Belarus) to sign an agreement to establish a Commonwealth of Independent States and dissolve the Soviet Union. On December 10, the document was ratified by the Supreme Soviets (parliaments) of Ukraine and Belarus. On December 12, Russia’s national parliament voted for a similar act. The CIS members agreed to share a number of competences, such as coordination of foreign policy activity, cooperation in forming and developing a common economic space and pan-European and Eurasian markets, customs, nature conservation, migration policies and struggle against organized crime.

On December 21, 1991, the leaders of eleven former Soviet republics gathered in Almaty (Kazakhstan) to sign a declaration on the CIS basis, goals and principles. The declaration confirmed the Belovezh Accords and stated that with the emergence of the CIS the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

On December 25, 1991, at 19:00 Moscow time Mikhail Gorbachev appeared on central television in a live broadcast to declare the termination of his activity in the capacity of the Soviet Union’s president. The Soviet state flag was removed from the flag pole over the Kremlin and the state flag of the Russian Federation was hoisted instead.

On December 26, 1991, the Soviet of the Republics (one of the two chambers of the Soviet parliament) adopted a declaration saying that "in connection with the emergence of the Commonwealth of Independent States the Soviet Union as a state and a subject of international law has ceased to exist."