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Historical Geography of Post-Soviet Era. Choices in late 1980s. Reform, then democracy Shock the economy, then (maybe) open up Models of Chile, China. Democracy, then reform Open up society to reform it U.S. thought “totalitarian” system not reformable.

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Historical geography of post soviet era l.jpg
Historical Geographyof Post-Soviet Era

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Choices in late 1980s

  • Reform, then democracy

    • Shock the economy,

    • then (maybe) open up

    • Models of Chile, China

Democracy, then reform

  • Open up society to reform it

  • U.S. thought “totalitarian”

    system not reformable

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Mikhail Gorbachev, 1985-91

  • Democracy,

    then reform

  • Socialism with

    a human face

  • Openness

  • Restructuring

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Glasnost (Openness)

  • End to secrecy

    • After Chernobyl 1986

  • Freedom to

    assemble, speak, etc.

  • Open discussion of problems

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Glasnost: Unanticipated effects

  • Unleashed nationalisms

  • Decentralization spreads

    conflict to local scale

  • No one calls shots;

    little democratic experience

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Perestroika (Restructuring)


Reduce Party control


Privatize non-industrial


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Place name changes:De-Sovietization




St. Petersburg

Nizhny Novgorod


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Place name changes:Indigenization








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Place name changes:Transliteration









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Perestroika: Unanticipated effects

  • Reluctance to give up security

  • Mistrust competition, inequality

  • Economic output lower,

    food shortages/lines

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Gorbachev Era

  • Reversed “Brezhnev

    Doctrine” in E. Europe

  • Some allies more

    hard-line than USSR

  • Hard-liners tested him

    • Lithuania, Georgia,

      Azerbaijan massacres

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Afghanistan war, 1979-89

  • Underestimated Muslim

    mujahadin rebels

  • Bogged down like Vietnam

  • Stinger missiles shot

    down helicopters

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Afghanistan war, 1979-89

  • Withdrew 1989

  • Pro-Soviet regime

    ousted 1992

  • Bitter Afghantsy


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Poland & Hungary

  • Western-oriented

  • Soured on socialism

    after repression

    • Hungary 1956

    • Poland 1970 & 1981

  • Regimes liberalized

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Better-off first to revolt

Poland, Hungary in Warsaw Pact

Baltic States in USSR

Slovenia, Croatia in Yugoslavia

Czech Rep. in Czechoslovakia

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Better-off first to revolt

Socialist state prevented full development

Resented supporting poorer areas

“Pull” of European Union integration

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Western TV signals

  • Finnish TV in Estonia

  • W. German TV in GDR,

    Czech., Poland

  • Austrian TV in Hungary

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TV stationsas battlegrounds

Ostankino tower clashes,

Moscow, 1991, 1993

Romanian Revolution 1989


massacre 1990

U.S. bombs Serbia 1999

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Poland 1989

  • Solidarity strikes,

    peasant party force election

  • 1st non-Communist

    prime minister appointed;

    Lech Walesa later pres.

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Hungary 1989

  • Party drops power monopoly

  • Declares republic, opens discussion of 1956

  • Opens western border

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East Germany(GDR) 1989

  • “Tourists” cross Hungarian border to Austria (brain drain)

  • Huge youth rallies spread

    from Leipzig

  • Fear of Stasi secret police lost

  • Gorbachev prevents crackdown

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Berlin Wall 1989

  • Minister on TV ends

    travel restrictions

  • Berlin Wall falls overnight after 28 years

  • GDR dissolves 1990, becomes FRG poor region

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Post-Soviet paths, 1989

  • “Reformed” Communist parties

  • Pro-West consumer capitalism

  • “Third Way”: democratic socialism / Greens

  • Right-wing ethnic nationalism

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Czechoslovakia 1989

  • Student protests repressed

  • “Velvet Revolution” returns leaders from 1968 Prague Spring

  • Dissident writer

    Vaclav Havel president

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Czechoslovakiaends 1993

  • Czech Rep. More developed than Slovakia

  • Czechs want quick NATO, EU entry

  • “Velvet Divorce” of leaders, not people

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Bulgaria 1989

  • Russians popular in

    Slav Orthodox country

  • Communists win 1990

    election; lose 1991

  • Economic reforms difficult

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Romanian Revolution 1989

  • Dictator Ceaucescu

    wooed West

  • Autocratic “personality

    cult,” secret police

  • Military revolt executed

    him, poverty remained

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  • Lithuania declares

    full independence

  • Soviet crackdown

  • Latvia, Estonia

    declare sovereignty

    (own laws supreme)

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Boris Yeltsin,1991-99

  • Party official from Urals; resigned 1990

  • Modernizer; Russian Federation Pres. 1991

  • Russia needs own identity apart from USSR,

    declares republic laws supreme

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August 1991 Coup

  • Day before Union of

    Sovereign States declared

  • Gorbachev under arrest

    by KGB; VP in power

  • Moscow KGB declined

    to arrest Yeltsin (on tank)

  • Gorbachev rescued,

    coup collapses

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Coup Aftermath

  • Yeltsin undercut Gorbachev as main leader

  • Baltics independence recognized in Sept.

  • Other republics start to declare as “sovereign”

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December 1991 Endgame

  • Russia, Ukraine, Belarus independent

  • Declare “Commonwealth of Independent States”

  • 8 independent republics join CIS (Georgia later)

  • Gorbachev resigns, Soviet flag lowered

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Russia successor

state to USSR

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  • Ukraine, Belarus,

    Kazakstan disarm nukes

  • Economic, military

    ties disrupted

    between republics

  • Rise of “mafia”

    economy, crime

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“Shock therapy”

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  • Losing regions

    • Older military-industrial

      • Agricultural, Resources

      • Ethnic minority

Spatial economy

  • Winning regions

    • Hub cities

  • Gateway

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Post-Communists, 1990s

  • Elected in Poland, Hungary, Lithuania!

  • Slowing down shock therapy?

  • Seen as capitalist/modern,

    not nationalist, social conservative

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Opposition to Yeltsin

  • Communists & nationalists

  • lament loss of Empire

  • Slavophile populists mistrust

  • West; often anti-Semitic

  • Yeltsin tanks fire on

  • Parliament, 1993

  • Candidates: Rutskoi, Lebed, Zhirinovsky, Zyuganov

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Yeltsin’s Demise

  • Financial crash

  • Health problems

  • Drunk as a skunk

  • Corruption extended to family

  • Ethnic minority autonomy

    (soft on Chechens?)

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Vladimir Putin, 2000-?

  • Underestimated as

    Yeltsin puppet

  • Ex-KGB in Germany;

    knows West well

  • Yet also placates


    Soviet memories

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  • Won vs. Russia in

    1990, 1994-96

  • Declared independence

  • Key Caspian oil pipeline

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Putin’s ruthless brutality won admirers

Russians flatten Grozny, capital of Chechnya, 2000

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Authoritarianism returning

  • Media controls

  • Centralization in Moscow

  • Ethnic autonomy lessened

  • Economic heavy hand