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Masterpieces of History

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton
Vladislav Zubok


Document No. 59: Diary of Anatoly Chernyaev regarding Gorbachev’s State of Mind May 2, 1989

Traduction de Anna Melyakova

Texte intégral

1After Tbilisi and the mixed results from the election for the Congress of People’s Deputies, this diary entry reflects the feeling among Gorbachev’s reform-minded assistants that perestroika has lost its bearings and Gorbachev himself is beginning to feel deprived of political levers to control and steer the processes he himself unleashed. The reference to “velvet gloves” points to Gorbachev’s rejection of the use of force in his policies. Chernyaev, along with Yakovlev and many others, believes that Gorbachev must break with the communist party altogether and build a new “democratic” authority and, along with it, political legitimacy for himself. Gorbachev’s refusal to do so, in their opinion, leaves him caught in the middle and in danger of being outmaneuvered by the radical democrats who are rallying around Boris Yeltsin.


2Depression and alarm are growing within me, a sense of crisis for the Gorbach-evian Idea. He is prepared to go far. But what does it mean? His favorite catchword is “unpredictability.”

3Most likely we will come to a collapse of the state and something like chaos. He feels that he is losing the levers of power irreversibly, and this realization prevents him from “going far.” For that reason he is holding to conventional methods but acting with “velvet gloves.” He has no concept of where we are going. His declarations about socialist values and the ideals of October, as he begins to tick them off, sound ironic to the cognoscenti. Beyond them is emptiness.

4Now it is “socialist security.” What is going on, when 22 million people have a salary of less than 60 rubles?! Etc. He is fighting off the demagogues who are breaking down “values” not aware (or maybe they are aware) that it will bring us to what we moved away from in 1917, i.e. to capitalism. But, really, we did not step away at all, or rather we stepped “into nowhere”; we ourselves do not know what kind of society we are living in.

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

© Central European University Press, 2010

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