At the time of writing, the official death toll from the ethnic violence which broke out in the Kyrgyz cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad in the night of 11/12 June stands at over 200.
It is 20 years since the destruction of the Berlin Wall by the people of then divided Germany signalled that Russia’s control over Eastern Europe was collapsing. Russia had held Eastern Europe in a brutal grip for four and a half decades, since the end of the Second World War.
The system Stalin built in the old Tsarist empire has collapsed irretrievably. The USSR is collapsing, too: most of its republics have now declared themselves independent. In most of those republics the “Communist Party of the Soviet Union” has either been banned outright, or banned from activity in the army and the KGB, and in factories.
Immediately after the August coup in Moscow, Boris Yeltsin and his friends turned the Russian parliament into a veritable revolutionary committee which, backed by the people, took measures it had no legal power to take, to break up the old order.
What is happening in the former USSR now is a grotesque triumph of unreason. In its destructiveness and senselessness, it will rank in history with the carnage of the First and Second World Wars as an almost inexplicable piece of 20th century madness.
“In lawlessness, in the committing of crimes, the point must be remembered at which a man becomes a cannibal!” Statement of A. I. Solzhenitsyn in defence of Zhores Medvedev, June 1970
To date Russian troops remain in Georgia very close to the capital Tbilisi. As western diplomatic pressure on Russia gets stronger, Russia appears to want a semi-permanent presence in the de facto mini-states within Georgia’s borders — South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Parliamentary elections took place in Ukraine on 30 September; western pundits are proclaiming these may “have saved the Orange Revolution”, of 2004. The elections were an effort to resolve the political crisis in Ukraine, triggered by by President Viktor Yushchenko’s decree on 2 April dissolving parliament, after a protracted power struggle between rival blocs.
By Tom Unterrainer
The past few weeks have seen courageous actions by gay communities in Russia, Latvia and Poland.