It was 7:32 p.m. on December 25, 1991, when the flag decorated with the hammer and sickle was lowered for the last time in Red Square in Moscow. The last leader of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev has just delivered a speech on television: twelve minutes of speech to endorse, along with his resignation, the disappearance of a giant, the Soviet Union.
“The line of the dismemberment of the country and the dislocation of the state has won, he said regretfully. Fate has it that when I reached the highest office of the State [en 1985], it was already clear that the country was doing badly. Everything here is in abundance, earth, oil, gas, coal, precious metals, not to mention intelligence and talents (…) and yet we live much worse than in the developed countries, we are still falling further behind them. “
This irrefutable observation, he attributes it to the fact that “Society was suffocating in the shackles of the administrative command system, condemned to serve ideology and bear the terrible burden of militarization”. Then he announces that he is leaving, “With concern, but also hope”. This final intervention only interests foreigners. “A single newspaper from Moscow, the Rabotchaïa Gazette, dared to reproduce in its columns this farewell speech ”, notes Andreï Gratchev, adviser and spokesperson for Mikhaïl Gorbachev, in his book The day the USSR disappeared, published on November 24 by Editions de l’Observatoire (250 pages, 20 euros).
Turn the page
Worse, while the leaders of the great powers – except China – pay homage to the father of perestroika, none of the leaders propelled to the head of the former Soviet republics calls him. No celebration in Moscow comes to consecrate the event. Red Square is deserted. The Russians did not wait until Christmas day to turn the page.
The breakup of the USSR, in fact, has already been completed. Since the 1is July 1991, the Warsaw Pact, the Cold War military alliance that united it with the Eastern bloc, no longer exists. Its dissolution, which went almost unnoticed, was pronounced in Prague, with the simultaneous withdrawal of Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary. One after the other, the satellite countries freed themselves from Soviet tutelage. This movement will culminate with the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, followed by the reunification of the two Germanies a year later, in October 1990.
The withdrawal of Soviet troops from the territories of Eastern Europe, that is to say thirty divisions and half a million men, will not be completed until 1994.
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