Gorbachev says former Soviet republics could unite to form new union state
“Not the Soviet Union, but a new union state. I think that a new union is possible,” Gorbachev said in an interview with TASS timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the dissolution of the USSR. “It could be within the same borders and formed with the same states, but voluntarily,” he added.
Gorbachev also said that he had stepped down as president of USSR without a fight in 1991 after leaders of the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian Soviet Republics signed the so called Belovezha Accords, which initiated the collapse of the USSR, because a civil war could have broken out if he had attempted to arrest them.
“I think I should have broken up with this pack; I have no other words for them,” he said.
“I think this all smelled of civil war. This was dangerous. I made a different move – I gave up my power and left my post in order to avoid bloodshed,” he said, while insisting that he is not trying to shirk responsibility for the USSR’s collapse, even though he tried to prevent it “till the very end.”
In the interview, Gorbachev didn’t miss the opportunity to once again blame the signing of the Belovezha Accords, and all the consequent events, on Boris Yeltsin’s immense appetite for power.
However, in commenting to the Lenta.ru website, Russian Communist Party MP Valery Rashkin branded Gorbachev’s latest remarks as populist and provocative.
“I don’t trust a single word he says. Gorbachev is an absolute populist and provocateur. He is playing on the feelings of citizens because he knows what public opinion polls and society’s general mood shows,” Rashkin said. “He had everything needed to prevent the country’s collapse – the military, the KGB, the police. Eighty percent of the citizens voted to preserve the USSR back then,” he added.
However, the lawmaker agreed that the idea of forming a new great power from former Soviet republics may be appealing to some. “Even now over 50 percent of Russian citizens support the USSR’s restoration, especially the younger generation that knows nothing about what it was really like,” he said.
Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, described Gorbachev’s perspective on the prospects for a new union state as “a personal point of view.”
In late November, Russia’s independent public opinion research center, Levada, released the results of a fresh poll which found that 56 percent of Russians regretted the demise of the USSR and 51 percent supported the idea of restoring it.
On December 8, 1991 the heads of the Soviet Republics of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus signed a treaty known as the Belovezha Accords in which they announced that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist as a sovereign state and was being replaced by a Commonwealth of Independent States – an economic bloc formed of completely independent republics. The USSR’s president, Mikhail Gorbachev, gave up his post on December 25th, 1991.