Gorbachev hopes for economic unity of post-Soviet space

MOSCOW, August 16 (Itar-Tass) —— Twenty years after the August 1991 putsch, ex-Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev regrets the disintegration of the once great power and hopes that economic interests will consolidate the post-Soviet space at some point.

Mikhail Gorbachev told Itar-Tass in an exclusive interview that he pinned hopes on the Customs Union, which would start full-value operation on January 1, 2012. He thinks though that the Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will be incomplete without Ukraine. “These four states have 80% of the potential of the former Soviet Union,” he said.

“Many people, the same as me, regret the disintegration [of the former Soviet Union] but it would be impossible to reconstruct that country: the USSR did not satisfy it member republics. I advocate the creation of a common economic space,” Gorbachev said. He noted that the suggested the formation of the common economic space in his being the Soviet president. “The common economic space is not a state, it is a union, an institution, actually, like the European Union,” he said.

Gorbachev admitted that he did not realize that August 19, 1991, was the beginning of the end of the USSR, especially as the putsch happened ahead of the signing of the Union Treaty planned for August 20.

He thinks that his political opponents did not defeat him at the session of the congress of people’s deputies or on the days of the putsch. “They did not win a political victory. People already understood a lot. The servicemen said there would be no storm, and Yazov withdrew them from the city immediately. However, they complicated the situation and undermined my authority,” he said.

Gorbachev, who also was the secretary general of the Soviet Communist Party, regretted that he was late with the party reform although the new party program was already being discussed and a decision to hold a special party congress had been made. “A new system took shape. We elected a congress of people’s deputies. It was the Supreme Council made up of new people. They were fighting for the new treaty. An anti-crisis program was drafted by August. We created structures, which would have pulled the country [out of the crisis],” Gorbachev said.


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