News / Europe

After USSR, Russia Rode Roller Coaster for 20 Years

TEXT SIZE - +

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.


James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid