A Conversation for The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Errata... and more info
ThirdSection Started conversation Dec 26, 2004
1. Nikita S. Khrushchev was born in the Russian village of Kalinovka, close to what would become the Ukranian border (Ukraine was known as "Little Russia" at the time), to Russian parents. However, he did spend much of his childhood working in the Ukrainian coal-mining town of Yuzhovsk, where he distinguished himself with his genius for inventiveness (e.g. he built his own motorcycle from scratch). He is often mistaken for a Ukrainian because of his childhood in Ukraine, the fact that Ukrainian was a natural second language for him, and that he was Stalin's party secretary for the Ukrainian SSR through much of the 1930s (when he wasn't serving as Moscow's City Secretary). I like him through this period as Ukrainian Party Secretary because he tried to curb the worst excesses of the purges in "his" republic and he often referred to Stalin to his subordinates as "Mudkashvilli," a play on Stalin's real last name (Dzhugashvilli) and "Mudka," the Russian word for "Prick."
2. Khrushchev was not the only Soviet leader to resign on his own volition. Nikita S. Gorbachev also resigned in the end of 1991, signaling the end of the USSR.
3. The deaths of Nicolae and Elena Ceaucescu (Dictator and First Lady of Communist Romania) on Boxing Day, 1989, are better characterised as an execution than as an assasaination. The Ceaucescus were first overthrown, then the new interim government tried them, then executed them by firing squad. This was the culmination of a revolution that began earlier that year in Timisoara, a town in Transylvania, where demonstrators shouted down a speech by Ceaucescu and then were fired on with live ammunition by the Securitati, the secret police. I remember this as the "Hole-in-the-Flag Revolution" because demonstrators were often seen waving Romanian flags with the Communist coat of arms cut out of the centre.
4. M.S. Gorbachev's Wife's name is Raisa (rah-EE-sah), not Raisha. They were high-school sweethearts in the rural South of Russia.
5. The end of the article refers to the USSR becoming "fifteen states again." Actually, eight out of the fifteen former Soviet republics, such as Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Khazakstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrghizstan and Azerbaijan never knew modern statehood before 1991. However, Tannu-Tuva, currently an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation, was globally recognized as an independent country between the world wars, noteworthy to philatilists for its triangular postage stamps. After WWII, Tannu-Tuva "voluntarily" applied to Stalin's regime for admission into the Russian SFSR (Soviet Federated Socialist Republic) and became the Tuva ASSR (Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic), a subdivision of the RSFSR.
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