The 1991 Project: October 30-November 5.

By Caden Wilcox

With October coming to a close, the atmosphere within the USSR became increasingly pressured. Political structures, people’s opinions, and economic institutions dramatically evolved to address the rapid change, and The Moscow News’ weekly publication made this perfectly visible. By focusing on Ukrainian military action, the KGB archives and what might happen to them, international business trends, and political fissures, the newspaper helps scholars today to recognize the importance of this week in 1991 and to re-examine its intricate dynamics.

On the front page of the November 3 edition of The Moscow News, Gleb Pavovsky discusses the intensifying conflict between the Russian and Ukrainian federations. Emphasizing their affinity towards nuclear utilization, the author expands a narrative of widespread political strife. As recent events mark the “dissolution of the more than three-century state alliance,” The Moscow News attempts to portray the instability of the Soviet Union’s civil structure. Further addressing Russia’s weakened grip on the national republics, Pavlovsky notes how both countries have circumvented military aggression while recognizing Ukraine’s legal independence—first declared by the Verkhovna Rada on August 24–and formulized central government. The paper then quotes the New York Times stating, “Russia today is no longer one of the 15 Republics lacking all rights in the omnipotent empire–it is the legitimate leader of yesterday’s empire.”

            On the paper’s fourth page, The Moscow News addresses changes in censorship and state secrets. Noting how the KGB has been disbanded, Olga Kryshtanovskaya discusses its recent public accessibility. In her article, “A Closer Look at the KGB,” Kryshtanovskaya offers an intense analysis of police agents’ practices and debates their effect on the Soviet experience. Distancing the individuals from “the myth of iron-willed omniscient men and women,” the author works to undermine their perceived power and emphasizes the Union’s diminishing legitimacy. Kryshtanovskaya provides a survey of KGB agents, undermining the secret nature of this state institution.

            In the very same issue, The Moscow News discusses the influx of western business in the Soviet Union. “The Visit: an Almost Fantastic Story” vividly portrays the increase of western ideas and economic practices in the unraveling state. In this article, Yelena Chekalova and Mikhail Shevelev recall Margret Thatcher’s recent visit to St. Petersburg, happily accepting an invitation from prominent Russian businesspeople. There, she addressed prominent figures, calling “to restore capitalism, and to turn everybody into a property owner.”

            In the article “Mikhail Gorbachev: A Revolutionary Rethink Necessary,” The Moscow News provides an intense dialogue between Len Karpinsky and the Soviet leader. Discussing the restructuring of the massive political entity, Gorbachev works to modify the public narrative and present an optimistic and productive message to the readership. Through his many responses, Gorbachev worked to shed a positive light on reformation and convey his continued power. Asking people not to “think one-dimensionally,” he offers the potential of a federalized Eurasia, still unified by Russia’s central force. He further notes that intense action is necessary to “dismantle totalitarianism” and that political restructuring is needed to maintain the communist movement.

            The Moscow News presents a vivid portrait of the deteriorating communist state. By recognizing military strife, reduced coercion, business ventures, and fading political ideologies, the paper captured the plausible future for this global power.

Sources

Chekalova, Yelena and Mikhail Shevelev. “The Visit: an Almost Fantastic Story,” Moscow News Weekly, No. 44. (1991, November 3). p. 4. Retrieved November 5, 2021, dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/49796535.

Pavlovsky, Gleb. “USSR Dies Interstate,” Moscow News Weekly, No. 44. (1991, November 3). pp. 1–6. Retrieved November 5, 2021, dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/49796535.

Karpinsky, Len. “Mikhail Gorbachev: A Revolutionary Rethink Necessary,” Moscow News Weekly, No. 44. (1991, November 3). p. 5. Retrieved November 5, 2021, dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/49796535.

Kryshtanovskaya, Olga. “A Closer Look at the KGB,” Moscow News Weekly, No. 44. (1991, November 3). p. 4. Retrieved November 5, 2021, dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/49796535.

Caden Wilcox is a Sophomore double-majoring in Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies and Economics.

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