Hello and welcome to the Armenian
News Network, Groong, I’m Asbed
December 26, 1991, marked the
day that the Soviet Union dissolved into 15 independent states, finally and
officially. This giant experiment in Marxism evolving into Leninism left a
tremendous mark on the history of the 20th century and its legacy continues to
have a lasting impact on Eurasia to this day.
In this Conversations on Groong episode, Hovik Manucharyan and I will
explore the history and legacy of the USSR, especially given that Armenia was a
Soviet republic, and today, 30 years later, the two histories are inextricably
This episode was recorded on Sunday, December 26, 2021.
To talk about this history, we are joined by:
Pietro Shakarian, who is a Lecturer in history at the American
University of Armenia in Yerevan. His research focuses on the history of
Eastern Armenia and the Caucasus, especially Soviet Armenia during the era of
Nikita Khrushchev’s Thaw. His analyses on Russia and the former Soviet region
have appeared in The Nation, The Plain Dealer, the Russian International
Affairs Council, Hetq, and more.
We’re now marking the 30th
anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the independence of the
various former soviet republics including Armenia. It’s hard to believe that it
has already been 30 years, it feels like it all happened just a few years ago,
especially for those of us who were around and following world politics,
watching the Berlin wall crumble, etc.
1. There are so many
politicized perspectives on the ways in which the USSR dissolved, but let’s get
a historian’s perspective on this. How did this process actually occur? What
were the driving forces and personalities behind it?
2. There are some
commentators who say that the dissolution of the USSR was driven by the rise of
ethnic nationalism in the various republics, such as Armenia, Georgia, and the
Baltic states. Some scholars assert that this rise was the inevitable outcome
of the Soviet Union’s policy on nationalities, specifically the creation of
national republics. We talked a little bit about these policies a year ago, in
December 2020, when you talked with us about the place of Anastas Mikoyan in
Soviet history and the policy on nationalities. What is your take on this view?
3. In American political
discourse, US policies are given credit for having played a role in the dissolution
of the Soviet Union and that it “won the Cold War.” Some politicians even
assert that US President Ronald Reagan himself was personally responsible for
the fall of the Soviet Union, some say that he drove the USSR into an arms race
that bankrupted it, etc. What’s your analysis of such perspectives?
4. One thing that you hear
from analysts is that the dissolution of the Soviet Union occurred relatively
peacefully. What do you think? Was the dissolution of the USSR a peaceful
We talked about the process
of the dissolution, now let’s talk about outcomes.
5. What are some of the
geopolitical and other impacts of the Soviet dissolution 30 years on?
6. How has the dissolution of
the USSR impacted the process of democratization in the region?
7. In what ways does the
Soviet legacy continue to persist in the former Soviet space, despite the fact
that we now have 15 very different independent states? How is the Soviet past remembered in the
8. On the 20th anniversary of
the dissolution of the USSR in 2011, there were some commentators who argued
that phrases like the “former Soviet Union,” “the post-Soviet space,” or the
“near abroad” were no longer relevant term. Do you believe that? What about now
9. Finally, was the
dissolution of the Soviet Union inevitable?
Were there alternatives to the way it dissolved into history? How
critical was the role of individual leaders in setting the wheels in motion for
the break-up itself and post-breakup developments?
That concludes this Conversations On Groong episode, and we hope you found it helpful. As always,
we invite your feedback, you can find us on most social media and podcast
platforms, or our website Groong.org.
Thanks to Laura Osborn for
the music on our podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on Youtube, Like our pages and follow us on social media. On behalf of
everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week, thanks for listening and
we’ll talk to you soon.
Pietro Shakarian, Soviet Union, USSR, Armenia, Dissolution, FSU, Post-Soviet, Boris Yeltsin, Michail Gorbachev, Belavezha, Anastas Mikoyan, Stalin, Lenin, Soviet Republics, Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh, Ethnic Conflict, National Republics, Policy on Nationalities,