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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid