Chronicles of the End of an Era: 30 years after the fall of the Soviet Union

While in the world images, theories and versions about the end of the Soviet Union traveled, an Argentine journalist landed in icy Moscow to document the end of an era and the commotion of that December 25, 1991. “It’s half past seven at night and the red flag with the hammer and sickle has just come down from the dome of the Kremlin”writes the chronicler Telma Luzzani, who witnessed one of the most important moments in world history.

the end of an era

“It rarely happens in a person’s life that the end of an era becomes so clearly visible. Even less of a revolution that, like the Bolshevik, meant a convulsion in the history of mankind ”, Luzzani acknowledges in his chronicles. 30 years after that cold Russian December, the journalist and writer publishes her book Chronicles of the end of an era. The fall of the Soviet Union and its consequences in today’s world, published by the Tricontinental Institute and the Batalla de ideas publishing house where he collects accounts of his trips to Russia between 1991 and 1993. In addition, the book includes interviews with historians and sociologists that allow the reader a broad idea of ​​the last 30 years.

With the challenge of telling an Argentine public about one of the events that marked the 20th century, Telma Luzzani, author of books such as Everything you need to know about the Cold War (2019), arrived in Moscow in December 1991. “To understand a people with a historical wealth, as having defeated the Nazi army, having lived the first communist revolution in the world. That alone was a huge challenge for me “, explains in dialogue with Página / 12. With temperatures of 20 degrees below zero, a winter with very few hours of light and the barrier imposed by the Russian language, Luzzani manages to find the changes that the fall of the USSR marked in the daily life of Russian society. What was talked about in the endless lines that Russian families made to buy food, what were the fears and expectations of a population that for 70 years remained as the counterweight of the capitalist system.

“It was a great responsibility because it was a fact that suffered a lot of manipulation by the news agencies”, he told Página / 12. “Maintaining a certain equanimity without demonizing the USSR – which was what most of the newspapers did – and in turn acknowledging the mistakes they had made was difficult,” Luzzani said. That is why in the chronicles the journalist brings us closer to the most varied interlocutors: economists, ex-combatants of the Second World War, politicians, and families who were trying to circumvent the arrival of a new system. It also takes us through the streets of Moscow to visit shops with empty shelves and others that were beginning to fill up with the big French cosmetic brands, to communist marches and the first official Christmas celebration in 74 years.

“I felt that nothing could discourage me. I was, as a journalist, in that land where the most important revolution in contemporary history had taken place and at the very moment that that unique experience was about to transform or disappear “, writes in the book that is also accompanied by illustrations by the cartoonist Daniela Ruggeri.

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“Put up with this bitter medicine”

“At that time there was talk of the triumph of capitalism and the United States as the only power, there was talk of an ideal world where there would be no war, with equity and freedom of expression”, says Luzzani, who in turn allowed himself to doubt that illusion. In his native Argentina, he had witnessed the deepening in real time of the neoliberal recipe established in the Washington Consensus since the late 1980s.

“One of the most shocking things about these changes after the fall of the Soviet Union is that I perceived how the neoliberal discourse was permeating Russian society, because when I interviewed them many told me that ‘we have to put up with this bitter medicine’. They needed to tell me about the spill theory ”, remembered. “They had the illusion that with this there was going to be some kind of equity, and I, who came from a country with a highly neoliberal government, realized what this they were saying meant. It was like a movie that I had already lived ”, Luzzani says.

30 years later

The chronicles of Luzzani’s trips to Moscow between 1991 and 1993 are completed with interviews with the former Argentine ambassador to Venezuela and the United Kingdom, Alicia castro, who is also a member of the Progressive International; the Indian historian and executive director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research, Vijay prashad; the political scientist and sociologist Attilio boron; and the doctor in History graduated from Lomonosov University, Oleg Barabanov, a professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences, who recounts his Soviet childhood as well as Boris Yeltsin’s period from his experience.

Each of the conversations provides a look at the fall of the two utopias of the 20th century: “The communist utopia, although still in force in countries such as China and Cuba, and the neoliberal utopia that also failed and today what we have is an unjust and destructive world of nature ”. In this sense, the author proposes to think about alternatives in moments where “Democracy worldwide is in danger. We see the birth of Nazi ultra-right groups, we hear an official in Chile wondering if women can vote ”.

“According to Atilio Boron, the hegemonic leadership of the United States does not exist and the current triad (USA, China and Russia) makes Washington more alert than ever”Luzzani explains. “If there is something that has characterized the empowerment of the United States, it is the use of the three Americas for its expansion”says the journalist, who in turn refers to the attempt by North America to prevent the approach of Latin American countries to countries such as China or Russia.

The author will present the book Chronicles of the end of an era. The fall of the Soviet Union and its consequences in today’s world on Friday, December 17 at 6:00 p.m. at the headquarters of the Instituto Patria, Rodríguez Peña 80, CABA. The presentation will be attended by Atilio Boron, political scientist and international analyst, Alicia Castro, former ambassador to Caracas and London, Paula Klachko, coordinator of the Network in Defense of Humanity, and Fernando Vicente Prieto from Editorial Batallas de Ideas. To attend the meeting in person, send an email to [email protected]

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