When Mikhail Gorbachev passed away last August, he was buried quietly after a formal funeral which was not attended by Putin, not because of he was busy with the war in Ukraine, but due to the unpopularity of the last Soviet communist leader who left the Kremlin in a state of darkness after the Supreme Soviet’s approval of dissolving the USSR in December 1991, and the red flag was lowered forever while the tricolor flag was raised.
Gorbachev, whom the world saw as a hero and was awarded Nobel Prize in 1990, disappeared from the public eye. The Russian people viewed him as an evil and he would just get 0.5% of votes when he attempted a political return in 1996. He was an honorable person who was reduced to disgrace.
Unsurprisingly, most politicians and few historians explained the events in terms of a conspiracy theory. Rarely did intellectuals dismantle the factors of this theory and systematically scrutinize it, particularly since history abounds with incidents that are inexplicable even under conspiracy theory. In the ancient past, Cambyses’s army disappeared and Rome was burnt, more recently, the siege of Vienna was lifted by the Ottomans for no clear reason, and Cairo was set ablaze by unknown hands. Additionally, Kennedy was killed, Abdel-Hakim Amer committed suicide, and America’s World Trade Centers collapsed. No conspiracy theory provided a full and convincing explanation for any of these events. It is time now to reverse that way of thinking.
This is not manipulation of terms. But in fact, it has become common to elaborately postulate the theory first, and then the action which can be an invasion, killing, burning, or destruction. For example, some intelligence services may spread false news about the health of somebody, so it would be plausible to announce their death in the right moment. Some people highlight the successive deaths of three top Soviet leaders within less than three years, and the rise of the youngest leader, who was lowest in the leadership hierarchy of the USSR.Once assuming power, that young leader began to promote policies of perestroika (reconstruction) and glasnost (openness and transparency), which resulted in the return of the famous Russian opposition figure Sakharov from exile. It also caused a snowball effect that started with the fall of Berlin Wall and continued until the victory of the West. It was the end of a historic era and the beginning of the American unipolar age.
Many intellectuals tend to explain the USSR dissolution in terms of conspiracy theory, given the dramatic factors in the story of the young leader who rose to the Secretariat of the Communist Party (CPSU), while most soviet leaders after Nikita Khrushchev looked like mummies in a history museum. No one can forget the images of Soviet leaders in 1980s during military parades commemorating the Bolshevik Revolution. In a mummified posture, they raised their hands to salute the soldiers.
These photos reflected a stagnant and dysfunctional Soviet administration which was detected by the West that started to cultivate the theory of the fall of the Soviet Union. It was a fierce campaign that was only previously seen during the building of Berlin wall and the escape of refugees from Eastern to Western Germany. The Western assault intensified across media platforms and Hollywood movies that were smuggled to Russia along with salacious goods, such as sexy clothes, and dreams of prosperity. All that coincided with a thickening of Kremlin’s arteries, the death of longtime CPSU Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, then his successor Yuri Andropov who died less than two years later to be succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko who also died less than a year later. During this confusion, Gorbachev ascended to the Politburo.
In a visit with his wife Raisa to London, he drew the attention of Margret Thatcher, as she focused on him specifically among the Russian delegation. His wife received a special welcome through intensive PR efforts. She was taken on tours purposefully designed to awe her with the Western lifestyle. One of these tours was to the famous Harrods store which was opened exclusively for her after working hours, and it was reported that the store’s owners accompanied her during the visit. British intelligence kept monitoring Raisa to know her weaknesses, and she didn’t hide her love of jewelry, fur and haute couture. Meanwhile, Thatcher described Gorbachev as a man with whom she could do business. Less than three years after this meeting, Gorbachev was elected as the General Secretary of the CPSU. The only way that Konstantin Chernenko, the last Soviet leader who witnessed the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, would disappear was to die, so Gorbachev could succeed him.
No one was able to explain why the new leader deviated from the communist line. Was it the political prudence that he practiced all his life until he came to power? Was it his wife’s passion for provocative Western goods? Or was it the successful deliberate marketing of capitalism as an effective remedy for poverty, ignorance and illness? Russia at that time was not poor, but suffered from an aging administration. Hence came the policies of perestroika and glasnost, which were not only approved in the Soviet Union, but also the Eastern Bloc. The Western propaganda machine employed these policies to sell delusions to peoples of countries aligned with Russia. Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia announced their independence in 1988 without any action by the Red Army to prevent them, although the same army invaded Hungary in 1956 and Prague in 1968 for reasons less than independence. It was the beginning of rebellion against communist values.
Times had changed in that new era and the Soviet Union had lost half of its power due to Western propaganda, and lost the other half because of the rigid minds of its leaders. The result was the breakup of the Union that was once sheltered behind the Iron Curtain, which had blocked the wind of natural transformation, or “determinism” in Marxist terms. Thus, Russia was socially, economically and politically retarded, but had an advanced military with a nuclear strike force, by the time the dissolution reached its peak and thrust the country into an unhappy chapter. Here the theory of conspiracy began.