Posted 17 марта 2021,, 14:17

Published 17 марта 2021,, 14:17

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

"But something went wrong..." 30 years ago, a referendum was held on the preservation of the USSR

"But something went wrong..." 30 years ago, a referendum was held on the preservation of the USSR

17 марта 2021, 14:17
For the first time in their history, Soviet citizens were given the opportunity to make a real democratic choice, but in the end it turned out to be useless.

Today, March 17, marks the 30th anniversary of the referendum on the preservation of the USSR. Experts recall how, at the turn of 1990 and 1991, a forceful trend began to grow in the Soviet leadership, there were reshuffles in the Soviet leadership, including the new Pavlov government.

In Vilnius and Riga, violent clashes take place with the participation of Soviet troops. Since the idea of communism had disintegrated by that time (which ultimately turned out to be fatal for the theocratic state), the topic of countering separatism arose (they began to call it extremism - although at that time they had not yet guessed to call everything extremism). And the topic arises to somehow strengthen and legitimize this trend by holding a referendum on the preservation of the USSR.

Preparation for it goes with varying degrees of success. Some of the Soviet republics refuse to vote, others come up with their own wording of the questions. And the most cunning behavior is the leadership of the RSFSR - it is not against the referendum, but at the same time it sets its own referendum for March 17 - on the introduction of the post of president of the RSFSR (that is, strengthening the subjectivity of the leadership to torpedo the allied). And on March 10, he holds a record rally in his support at Manezhnaya Square in Moscow.

As a result, two referendums are held on March 17. Voters decide not to reflect too much and support both opposing trends. For the preservation of the USSR in 9 republics 77.85%. Including in Russia 71.30%, against - 26.4% (also a lot - as if now 26.4% would vote for Navalny). Only the Sverdlovsk region voted against, only 49% of the participants voted for there, and 34% in the city itself. And the same voters (71.38%) vote for the introduction of the post of President of the RSFSR (in fact, this is Yeltsin's pro-election).

As a result, no clear mandate was received for anything, and on April 2, the Pavlov government (whose anti-rating after the January exchange of money is slowly tending to the anti-rating of Hitler) significantly increases prices. A major miners' strike begins, demanding Gorbachev's resignation and other justice-respect-trust. Feeling that the power trend was drowned in their own illusions, and the miners were stepping on their heels, Gorbachev on April 23 proceeded to re-establish the USSR, gathering the leaders of 9 union republics in Novo-Ogaryovo (thereby, as if leaving the union leadership out of work and, as it were, hinting that the remaining 6 republics can blame wherever they want, since they have everything so neglected).

In accordance with the results of the referendum, within the framework of the so-called Novo-Ogarev process in the summer of 1991, a project was developed to conclude a federation treaty "On the Union of Sovereign Republics", the signing of which was scheduled for August 20.

But on June 12, Yeltsin triumphantly wins the presidential election with 57.3% of the vote in the first round. The power trend departs from the knockdown for several months, then in August it suits the GKChP, in fact, demonstrating to the remaining union republics the impossibility of the Soviet Union with a human face. On August 18-21, the State Emergency Committee made an unsuccessful attempt to forcibly remove Gorbachev from the post of President of the USSR, disrupting the signing of the Union Treaty. They did not manage to sign the new project.

On December 8, 1991, the presidents of Belarus, the RSFSR and Ukraine signed the famous Belovezhskaya agreement on the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States - the CIS.

Five years later, on March 15, 1996, the State Duma adopted a resolution: "The decision taken by way of a referendum of the USSR is final, is binding on the entire territory of the USSR and can be canceled or changed only by a new referendum of the USSR." And adopted the law "On the legal force for the Russian Federation of the results of the USSR referendum on March 17, 1991 on the preservation of the USSR", in which she noted that since there was no other referendum on the existence of the USSR, the results of this referendum formally retained legal force.

Political scientist, Mikhail Vinogradov, assesses these events:

  1. The March 17 vote was an intrigue to shape the power trend, which by the time of the vote had already fizzled out. And no mandate was received - by the time of the vote, Russia had already seized the initiative, selling the interpretation that this vote was not for the USSR, but for the KPSS-KGB-future GKChP. Which was not that far from reality ..
  2. The results of the voting were not taken seriously even in the Kremlin, after a month they scored on him and started the Novo-Ogarevsky process.
  3. In 1991, voters voted for a lot and got confused as a whole. The trauma from the collapse of the USSR (at least for the Russian man in the street) will be invented only in the mid-90s. According to polls by the then VTsIOM, the collapse of the USSR in 1992 was in 6th place in terms of importance for the respondents. Against the background of a multitude of economic, social and everyday troubles, there was no time for geopolitics ... "

Another political scientist, Ilya Grashchenkov, believes that Soviet citizens still wanted to leave the USSR:

The referendum was a unique example of direct democracy in the history of the Soviet Union. Conducted in the context of an acute political and economic crisis, in the context of the beginning of the dismantling of the Soviet system of state administration, the referendum showed that, despite the growing split in society, Soviet people wanted to continue living in the Soviet socialist state. But something went wrong..."

But the third political scientist, Boris Makarenko, on the contrary, considers this day to be decisive in the fate of the USSR:

“Referendums on the merger and separation of territories require a coinciding majority for the entire aggregate and for each of the constituent parts of the territory. 6 out of 15 republics did not vote for. Those. it was on this day that the USSR as a union of 15 republics de facto ceased to exist ... "

But the well-known Russian politician of the end of the last century, Sergey Stankevich, is sure that on March 17, 1991, a referendum was held not on the preservation of the USSR, but on whether the citizens of the USSR wanted to live in a "renewed Union", which was to be created by those who agree:

“The majority in 9 republics said 'yes, we want' and immediately began to prepare the Treaty on a New Union.

“Already in January 1991, after forceful tests in Lithuania and Latvia, it became clear that there was no way to push all 15 republics to vote on the topic of“ preservation”. 6 republics declared: for us there is no longer the Union, no referendum on its preservation.

Then Gorbachev's team had the right idea: to vote for a renewed Union. Collect at least 9 republics under the banner of the renewed Union. Sign a new Treaty and, little by little, gently involve others in the association, pointing out its benefits.

An agreement between Gorbachev and Yeltsin took place on this topic. The condition was the right of Russia to add a clause on the establishment of the post of President of the Russian Federation to the referendum ballot.

So the referendum on March 17, 1991 was unambiguously "renovationist" and not "preserving", for "the former has passed".

It was clear that Gorbachev was under intense pressure from the conservative power bloc. Perhaps, using the examples of forceful actions in Baku, Vilnius and Riga, the futility of the idea of "keeping everyone at once at any cost" was shown. And Gorbachev's team got a chance to promote a compromise "renovationist" idea by agreement with the Russian leadership. It was a choice "for us as part of the Union". What will be the Union - we will agree. It could not have been a choice "for the obligatory stay of all in the former union on the same terms." That is, the population of Kazakhstan could not vote to force Estonia to build socialism together with Moldova.

9 republics voted for "a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics, in which human rights and freedoms will be fully guaranteed".

I also voted for..."