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Masterpieces of History

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Svetlana Savranskaya
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Thomas Blanton
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Vladislav Zubok

Documents

Document No. 34: Diary of Anatoly Chernyaev on the Situation in the Baltics, December 10, 1988

Traduction de Vladislav Zubok

Texte intégral

1This diary entry shows that Gorbachev, unlike the CIA analysts in the September “Housecleaning” analysis (see Document No. 33), began as early as December 1988 to sense the rising instability in the Soviet Union, and particularly the spillover effect that the secessionist movements in the Baltics were having on the Russian “mainland.” Nevertheless, Chernyaev registers the remarkable “self-delusion and naïveté” of his boss for believing it was in the self-interest of the Balts to stay in the USSR. A few months later, as political revival began in Poland, Hungary and the GDR, the Soviet leader would display the same lack of realism in expecting that these countries would voluntarily remain a part of the Warsaw Treaty Organization and not risk losing economic and trade relations with the USSR.

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2The Baltics are in a storm. In Armenia and Azerbaijan, ten people get killed in a week; there is all-out nation-against-nation banditry. Fifty-thousand refugees, children are in the cold, houses looted, terrorism in transportation, etc.

3Both followers of M.S. [Gorbachev] and the Balts feel that Gorbachev is ready to go very far down the road towards federalization of the Union. It is no accident that he cares to preserve common bonds of a very general nature: The October [Revolution], socialism, adherence to Lenin’s choice […] Everything else seems to be negotiable. But he is concerned by the reaction of the Russian component of the Union. Several times, speaking to me one-on-one, he said that [Russian] great power “undercurrents” [potentsii] are “rumbling” menacingly. As for me, I believe that in Russian nationalism the prevailing trend is not towards a “single and indivisible” [Russian empire], but nationalism as such: [people think] “let them, all these Estonians and Armenians, go to hell!” [The Russian] public seems to not really care but the enemies of perestroika are making background noises: [screaming that Gorbachev is] breaking up the Soviet Union, our great achievement. […]

4Gorbachev asked me and, as I learned, asked Shakhnazarov and Yakovlev: is it really true that the Baltic people really want to secede? I told him: I believe they do […] And he told me (does he mock me or seriously think so): they will perish when they cut themselves off from the rest of the Union. Self-delusion and naïveté […]

5[Source: Anatoly Chernyaev’s Diary, Manuscript. On file at the National Security Archive. Translated by Vladislav Zubok.]

© Central European University Press, 2010

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