June 1990 Russian Sovereignty Declaration Made Possible Putin’s ‘Orwellian Anti-Utopia’ – OpEd


Those behind the RSFSR’s declaration of sovereignty on June 12, 1990, were motivated not by a desire to accelerate reforms, limit the powers of the nomenklatura or join the Western world but were driven by “only one thing – an insane pursuit of power and wealth,” Vladislav Inozemtsev says.

To achieve their real ends, the Moscow commentator says, they felt they had to destroy the authority of the central government of the USSR; and they were quite prepared to do so even if that entailed as it did the disintegration of the entire country (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6486E32784B74).

After only a few years, it was possible to see the consequences of the actions of this declaration: “instead of the liquidation of the privileges of the bureaucracy, we saw a bacchanalia of corruption and the conversion of politics into a business [and] instead of power by the people, the shooting of the parliament in 1993 and the stolen presidential elections of 1996.”

And finally and especially significant, Inozemsev continues, their actions meant that “instead of maximum sovereignty for the territories,” the actions driven by the real motives of those who took there were “the war in Chechnya and the transformation of Russia from a federation into a dictatorship.” 

But “the most important” thing was something else, he argues. “The Soviet Union of Gorbachev’s time was a complex structure, which could not be run in an authoritarian manner and a country which became a real harbinger of freedom (as the countries of Eastern Europe felt) and a conductor of anti-imperial policies.”

In contrast, “the strange monster which arose out of it on June 12, 1990, turned out to be the heir not of the Russian Empire of the Soviet Union but the anti-Western, clerical and slavish Muscovy which in reality we now see.” On that “black day” in Russian history, Inozemtsev continues, “a choice was made in favor of reaction, not progress, clericalism, not civil society; and authoritarianism not freedom.”

Put in simplest terms, he says, “the construction of the Orwellian anti-utopia of today began precisely then and not on December 31, 1999, or February 24, 2022,” as all too many imagine.

“The love of power and greed of several dozen people, skillfully presented by propagandists as examples of public service and personal disinterestedness, over the last third of a century, transformed what had been an almost European Soviet society into a fascist Reich of the 21st century, threatening both its close neighbors and more distant ones.”

“I don’t know what will be the fate of the ugly formation,” Inozemtsev concedes; “but I am convinced that everyone involved in the events of that time should engage in acts of repentance until the end of their days.”

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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