The Day Before (2/2)

Brezhnev glaciation © PP

  This reflection shall in no way engage the responsibility of the French Administration that I served or the persons who are mentioned

         The classic recipes for approaching and understanding the ending USSR were at the moment inoperative. It was difficult at the time to define a method, without benchmarks, without contacts while new heads were emerging. A country of 22 million km2 was undergoing a prolonged telluric tremor. The very physical impression was that the ground was shaking under our feet and going to restore, at the end of a Brezhnev glaciation whose process was already engaged, decades of buried energies. My first free time in Moscow was used to pick up the bullet holes on the walls of the White House. It would be even worse during the so-called transition period with the battle of Parliament in October 1993, not to mention the first war in Chechnya, which would also mark a break with Gorbachev politics. 

And yet Mikhail Gorbachev himself had provided us with a direction while our compasses were panicking. On December 7, 1988, in New York, before a UN General Assembly, transformed into a rock star concert, where groupies were sitting on the ground and in the stairs, he announced the reduction of the Soviet armed forces by 500,000 men in two years, 50,000 of them in the GDR alone, the end of the Brezhnev doctrine and the end of the leading role of the Communist Party. Some did not believe their ears and thought they heard Teilhard de Chardin speak of the omega point, but this was the road map that the last Soviet leader respected. In the cinemas of New York, The Russian House, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Sean Connery, was seen as the Gorbachev concept of a European common house was being developed. Michelle Pfeiffer alone helped to lift the last reticence. It was time to leave for Moscow (…) 

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