Mr Stephen Kotkin, I disagree with you!

September 28, 2007 at 1:12 pm 1 comment

‘Armageddon Averted’I would like to present you my letter to Mr Stephen Kotkin, an author of a great book ‘Armageddon Averted.’  I commented on some passages in the book with which I disagree.

Dear Mr. Kotkin,

I have reading your book Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000. No need to repeat the numerous positive reviews of the book. I enjoyed your analysis on the Soviet Union very much.

However, I dear to say that I entirely disagree with few of your statements presented in the book. Let me mention them.

In Your conclusion (same as in introduction) you written that ‘Only five countries, which were already better of [in comparing to Russia]  … – Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Estonia – managed a first rush of liberal reform, and were poised for a second push…’ (193 p.)

First of all You missed Slovakia there.  Second of all I would like to remind you that You missed Lithuania and Latvia.  During most of history Latvia and Lithuania were better of than Russia.  Since You talk about the last decade of the 20C I am entitled to claim that because of my own personal experiences.  If You need any further assurances regarding this please, ask any Ex-Soviet ziticen to confirm that.   If You have had traveled to the occupied Latvia and Lithuania you would have seen a huge difference between Belarusian or Russian border areas just after crossing the ‘border’ line to Latvia or Lithuania.  Rest of Russia was in the similar situation.

During the occupation some Soviet citizens were calling the Baltic republics a ‘little America’.  Pribaltika for them was a single entity since they were developed almost identically.  There some curiously humorous miss-understandings when introducing yourself as being from Lithuania, sometimes one was getting a response ‘Oh yes, Riga, a beautiful city!’

understand that the book was published after the 1998 crisis, in 2001.  I agree that Lithuania had some negative economical implications due to the Russian crisis.  It is true that the Russian crisis knocked the country down a little bit, and we had some catching up to do with the Estonians in order to make it to the first EU candidates group.  And, as You perfectly aware, we made it!

Furthermore, Russia suffered a much greater deal from the 1998 crisis than the Baltic States and I don’t think that it is fair to claim that Lithuania and Latvia were worse off than Russia even before the 1998 crisis. ALL Baltic States in most of the time had a much better socio-economical and political composition than Russia.  This was the case also in 2001 when you published the book.
On the same page You state that ‘Even the touted cases of Latvia and Lithuania resembled the disasters of Ukraine and Belarus…’ Well, with all due respect, I do not think that there was anything to compare between Latvia and Lithuania with Lukoshenko’s Belarus and Kuchma’s Ukraine.
ALL Baltic States are regarded as a success story and I am sorry that You were not aware of that.
It seems to me that You had never had a chance to visit Lithuania and Latvia and compare life there to that in Russia (Moscow is not Russia, it never was). Please, do that and You will see a difference even though at the moment Russia is swimming in the petrol dollars.Thank you for taking time to read this letter and I am looking forwards to read more of Your books.


Entry filed under: Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Northern Europe, Politics, Russia, USA.

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