Saturday 21 October 2017

Simon Schuster: Russian evolution continues two decades after lowering Red Flag

A protester against the recent Russian parliamentary election results in the southern city of Stavropol. Photo: REUTERS
A protester against the recent Russian parliamentary election results in the southern city of Stavropol. Photo: REUTERS

Simon Schuster

Twenty years ago this morning, Russians awoke not just to a new day, but to a new world -- and so did everyone else. It had been only hours since Mikhail Gorbachev had announced in a momentous broadcast that he was resigning as President of the USSR, having failed to gain support for a new federal treaty.

As a consequence, he said, the Soviet Union would cease to exist. The red flag that had flown over the Kremlin was lowered that night, never to be raised again.

Although the end had seemed inevitable through a fractious and tense autumn, Mr Gorbachev's declaration, when it came, still reverberated around the globe, prompting both joy and alarm. It was the objective, stated or not, of every Western cold warrior: the reversal of the Bolshevik revolution, and the completion of the process that had begun two years before, with the wave of European revolutions and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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