The first post in this series got a huge number of visitors, which makes me think that the topic is of interest to people and has to be developed further. So I'll keep writing on this subject until I run out of things to say (which will not be very soon.)
Now, the most important thing you need to do if you want to understand what happened to the Soviet Union and what's going on in its former republics right now is forget about the United States. I know that there are many people who like to believe that every single thing in the world is caused by the United States. Pseudo-liberals unwittingly demonstrate just how much they despise those of us from other countries by their insistence that if life in our countries does not correspond to their standards, that must have been caused by the interference of the US. This attitude is condescending, reductive and wrong. Today's reality of the former Soviet countries was created and is maintained by people in those countries. And it's not a reality that makes them unhappy, so fake compassion for us, poor unintelligent victims of the bad, all-powerful US, is completely misplaced. If that's the direction of your thoughts about us, you need to reexamine what psychological issues make you want to exaggerate the importance of your country at the expense of others.
Even Naomi Klein, who in her imaginative and often funny book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism demonstrates a grievous misunderstanding of the post-Soviet Russia (she refers to Yeltsin as Russian Pinochet, for Pete's sake), recognizes in a grudging manner that the Russians beat the IMF at its own game. Those of you who have read the book know that it's informed by Klein's extremely Americentric agenda. Still, even she doesn't manage to create a convincing account of American protagonism in the collapse of the Soviet Union and the further fate of the former Soviet republics.
Now that we have established a productive framework within which these events should be discussed, we will be able to continue exploring this topic.