News / Europe

    After USSR, Russia Rode Roller Coaster for 20 Years

    James Brooke

    When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia, the biggest member republic, embarked on 20 years of unsteady independence.

    It was a Christmas gift that anti-communists had prayed for, for seven decades. Mikhail Gorbachev announces that the Soviet Union would cease to exist on December 25, 1991.

    But Russians follow a different religious calendar. And the following 20 years of Russian history have been rocky.

    Less than two years after the Soviet collapse, communists in Russia’s parliament tried to depose Russia’s first elected president, Boris Yeltsin.

    In the heart of Moscow, tanks shelled the renegade parliament. When the fighting was over, more than 600 people were dead or wounded.

    With the center weak, Russia’s Muslim fringes tried to secede. During the war in Chechnya, the capital, Grozny, was bombed so heavily, it looked like Stalingrad during World War II.

    Peace was barely restored with the Chechens, when oil prices plummeted, triggering Russia’s financial collapse of 1998.

    After the chaos of the 1990s, Russians gravitated to Vladimir Putin, a little known KGB officer, who was elected president in 2000.

    With a public relations team building his action image, Mr. Putin dominated the decade.

    He confronted Russia’s oligarchs, putting the nation’s richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in jail - where he sits seven years later.

    The Chechens fought back, using mass kidnappings of civilians to confront the state.

    Human rights abuses soared. And then someone killed the messenger on President Putin’s birthday.

    In central Moscow, a gunman killed Anna Politkovskaya, a fearless reporter on Chechnya.

    The outcry from the West had barely died down, when Russian tanks rolled into South Ossetia, a breakaway territory of Georgia.

    Moscow said it was protecting its peacekeeping troops. But the tanks kept rolling into Georgia proper.

    The war strengthened Mr. Putin to the point he seemed untouchable.

    In September, he and President Dmitry Medvedev announced they would switch jobs after presidential elections next March.

    But this backroom deal offends many Russians.

    After a decade of economic growth, Russia’s new middle class wants more - political freedom.

    Connected through the Internet, Russians are joining the largest demonstrations seen here since the fall of communism.

    The next one will be December 24.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora