Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who Caused the Collapse of the Soviet Union? Part III

To continue our conversation about the collapse of the Soviet Union that we started here and here, I want to answer the question that people often have when they are told that there was no transfer of power when the system changed. If money and power remained in the same hands after the fall of the Soviet Union, people ask, how is it possible that nobody noticed? Weren't the citizens supposed to start asking questions as to why such a profound transformation as going from socialism to capitalism did not bring about a major transfer of power?

Of course, people would have asked these questions. They were prevented from doing it, though, by a very inventive distractionary tactic. The tactic in question consisted of presenting the people whose pictures you can see below as the new post-Soviet billionaires:

This is Roman Abramovich whose fortune is estimated at $13,4 billion. 

He is the 53rd richest person in the world. 

This guy is Boris Berezovsky. His fortune has dwindled in the recent years (an expensive divorce, endless court cases, exile, etc.) and now stands at a puny $1 billion.

While he still served the purposes of the regime, it looked like his political and economic power was unrivaled.

This is another post-Soviet billionaire, Vladimir Gusinsky. He is now also in deep trouble with the regime. In the nineties, however, he owned pretty much everything in Russia. Except, of course, what the other guys whose pictures I posted owned.

So these are the people who were given to us in the nineties as the all-powerful billionaires who now had all the money and the power of the former Soviet Union. And they all have one thing in common. It might not be obvious to an American eye that is used to seeing a huge ethnic and racial variety on a daily basis. It is immediately obvious to any Soviet person, though, that these guys are Jews. (These are not the only billionaires of the 90ies, of course. There are a few more, and most of them are also Jewish.)

In the early nineties, the people who were effectuating the so-called transition from the Soviet Union to a free market democracy (a transition that never really took place, of course) used this nifty little trick to distract the fiercely anti-semitic Soviet people from what was really going on. They appointed some very obviously Jewish guys to act as figureheads for the seemingly new regime. When the Jewish billionaires had served their purpose, they were thrown over by the regime. Now many of them are either in hiding or in exile. In my opinion, they had been chosen as figureheads from the pool of minor KGB informers. Of course, I have no data to substantiate this opinion but no other possibility makes sense logically.

In the next post in this series I will tell you who I think was really in power in the Soviet Union and why the decision was made to disband the USSR temporarily.


Pagan Topologist said...

OK, but did Gorbachev not, in fact, give up power?

Clarissa said...

I don't think he had any choice in the matter.

el said...

It's probably my Jewish Galut (exile) mentality(*), but I can never hear Roman Abramovich's name (didn't recognize the other 2) without cringing [I mean чувствовать раздражение since there are other translations]. I cringe since I think I imagine all too well how former USSR citizens view a prominent Jewish thief (I suppose he didn't earn all money honestly, did he?). Or, may be, I don't imagine it as well as I think since I left as a child, unlike you. The feeling stems from him being "a figurehead", "showing" the anti-semitic Soviet people - "Here I am - a Jewish thief, who stole your country after USSR collapsed. That's why you're poor." I know it's the exile mentality, that not those rich Jews are to blame, but weren't they used exactly for that? Aren't they still used for that?

What do you mean by "to disband the USSR temporarily"? You know that USSR was composed of numerous countries, unlike many people in USA or Israel, who think only of Russia. Do you see Ukraine being one country with Russia again? Otherwise, it's only what's going with Russian (not USSR) regime.

(*) An interesting wiki entry about it:

RE Galut vs Zabar [цабар=born in Israel] mentality: Reminded me of the short story "The Name" by Aharon Megged I studied at school. It was one of the few Israeli lit pieces I liked. Since you're a Jew too, I thought you would be interested in the conflict between the Galut past and building the image of the New Jew in Israel, one who works land, is in his own country, etc.

Full text online here:

Clarissa said...

"Do you see Ukraine being one country with Russia again? "

-It's not about what I see. The Putin regime has been working very hard to bring Ukraine back. They've been rigging Ukrainian elections quite openly. I think they are already half way there.

" I know it's the exile mentality, that not those rich Jews are to blame, but weren't they used exactly for that? Aren't they still used for that? "

-It's not the exile mentality. It's the truth. I knew this was the case long before I decided to emigrate.

el said...

The exile mentality is feeling angry at him too rather than only at the regime.

If you read the short story, I would be very interested to hear your opinion.

Pagan Topologist said...

"I don't think he had any choice in the matter."

So, are you saying it was a coup, not a collapse, insofar as Gorbachev was concerned?

Clarissa said...

I think he was put in power to achieve a certain goal. After the goal was achieved, he wasn't needed any more. Then Yeltsin was put in power because he was easier to use at that point. A raging alcoholicis always extremely easy to manipulate. Gorbachev wasn't an alcoholic, there was a remote possibility he might have started objecting to certain things, people hated him profoundly. So he became an untenable figure.

Anonymous said...

You have not idea how these posts on the collapse of the USSR are useful to my research right now. Believe it or not.


V said...

I do not know if you are right... I had enough experiences to know that people who left FSU often have strange ideas about what is or was going on. Or, more precisely - about the relative importance of the things which were indeed going on.

I had a friend who left in 1989, so there already was no problem with writing each other letters after she left. And I could witness how the perception of what was happening in the FSU was gradually affected by the American propaganda. A year after she left she a) only half-jokingly asked if I became an anti-semite by any chance (because they were constantly told about the rise of antisemitism, the "Pamyat", etc), and b) she told me how she felt badly for us every time she opened her fridge. Granted, my fridge was probably more empty than hers, but we definitely were not starving.

After I moved to the States I heard various horror stories from people originally from my own town about whom I knew for sure that they were better off than me before they left...

I totally believe that if one looks for it, one can find evidence that all those billionaires are hated because they are Jews. I do not deny the existence of antisemitism. But one has to look for it. I somehow manage not to come across such sentiments that much. There is a fraction of population who thinks those billionaires (especially Khodorkovky who is in jail) are some kind of heroes, there are a lot of those who consider them thieves but could not care less if they are Jewish or not, etc, etc, etc.
Note that for many years already the main enemy is not the Jew. Internally the main enemy are Caucasians (meaning people from Caucasus mountains region, Chechens, etc), the main external enemy is the West. Most people I know use the term "Judo-masonic conspiracy" only as a part of a joke (at the expense of any kind of conspirologists, not necessarily antisemitic ones).

What I am trying to say - USSR and FSU were and are very inhomogeneous, and to believe USSR evolved the way it evolved as a result of some conspiracy, aimed at preserving power in the hands of a certain group... is about as justified as to believe in the above-mentioned "Judo-masonic conspiracy"

Clarissa said...

Do you deny that the power in Russia right now belongs to former high-ranking KGB employees and communist party members?

As for the Jewish billionaires, I'm talking about the events of 20 years ago. There was, indeed, a rise in popular anti-semitism at that time. People from Caucasus were of no interest to anybody in 1990. It's a mistake to confuse the early 90ies and today.

Also: my version of what happened with USSR hasn't changed in the least since I emigrated.

V said...

I totally agree that there is a difference between the beginning of 90-ies and now. But in my opinion this fact fits my model better than it fits yours.

Again, I do not deny the existence of antisemitism. There is/was enough antisemitism in the USSR and FSU to make life of the Jews quite uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous. But your "Jews as universal distraction" implies more than that. It implies antisemitism is/was a PREVALENT attitude, so prevalent that presenting the public a couple of Jewish billionaires can be used as universal distraction.

Returning back to the beginning of my post - the fact that Jews were so easily forgotten in favor of other enemies proves to me that antisemitism was not widespread enough. Again, I stress, I just mean "not enough to be a universal distraction".

Also look at the attitude towards Israel. In Soviet time no day passed without Soviet propaganda telling us something about evil Zionists (spell-checker insists it has to be with capital Z) oppressing poor Palestinians. And it changed after the collapse of the USSR, without much inertia. Now they criticize Israel only when everybody in the West does, and buy military drones from it...

Clarissa said...

My dear friend,when N. told his mother that he'd met a woman and it was very serious, her only question was: "Is she?" After he said I was, there has been almost no contact between all of us.

Xenophobia and racism are very prevalent in Russia and Ukraine. My own mother calls me "a half-breed" on a regular basis. And she's lived with a Jew for 35 years. Anti-semitism in the 80ies was daunting. And in the 90ies it intensified. The Jews of Russia and Ukraine did all they could to help it intensify. However, by the end of the 90ies, most Jews left. Now, there was nobody for the title nations to hate. So they started hating Tadzhiks and Chechens.

V said...

I am very sorry to hear that... But I still believe it has something to do with some particular social circles (sorry, N., if you are reading this).
Please note that I am not trying to invalidate your feelings. But I just suspect that as a Jew one always becomes a focus of those antisemitic sentiments which exist in one's environment.

In the same time, it was completely possible for a non-Jew to live his life and to not think of anything related to Jews for months in a raw. I had Jewish friends when I was a kid, but I never thought of them in terms of their jewishness. They were just friends to me, not Jews (sorry if this is an expression of insufficient cultural sensitivity). I also assure you that when those particular kids were not around, their jewishness was not discussed or mentioned at all. In good way or bad. It was just a non-subject between us...

Clarissa said...

That's really great. Have you ever lived in Russia and Ukraine, though? I bet it was very different between these republics and Estonia. Russians and Ukrainians were always anti-semitic. Now, they are finally channelling their hatred towards each other, which is how it well should be. :-) :-)

V said...

Well, maybe I am just naive... I recall a funny real life story though:

There was a girl in my class at school, with whom we were friends. She was Jewish, but then again, as I said, I did not pay attention. Then after 6th or 7th grade she was transferred by her parents to another school and we lost contact. Many years later, my wife, who studied with that girl in another high school when they were older, told me - "remember so and so, she was transferred between schools every time she became friendly with a non-Jewish boy?" And then it dawned on me - I was the boy that girl was most friendly with before she was transferred... :) In sixth grade, for God's sake... :) :) At that time I did think neither of her jewishness nor of doing anything indecent to her. Nor of marrying her for that matter... :)

Clarissa said...

You see what a great impact you had on this person's life?

This is too funny. :-)