The leader of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife 30 years ago I spent a few days in Latvia, trying to convince the local community of the need to continue his chosen course of restructuring socialism. During a meeting held shortly before the awakening of the visit, only a few could think that under Gorbachev’s reforms lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Proclaiming the policy of perestroika and glasnost, Communist party leader Mikhail Gorbachev realized that change is possible only if the society will support its efforts to change ingrained over many years of working principles of the Soviet regime. Goals promote the idea of perestroika was also the visit of Gorbachev and his wife Raisa to Latvia from 17 to 19 February 1987. This in itself was a remarkable event, because during the Soviet occupation other masters of the Kremlin was not considered necessary to meet the situation in Latvia is in place.
If there is no swimming pool, need to swim in the sea
In the spring of 1990 in Riga briefly visited the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, who was then still only forged the plans for establishing a “dictatorship of the proletariat”. It has been more than half a century, until the main leader of the Communists once again honored Riga with his presence. In 1954 in the capital of Latvia came Nikita Khrushchev, who enthusiastically expounded his idea of growing corn as the main support of Soviet agriculture. In the summer of 1959, Khrushchev again visited Latvia, this time his visit was preceded by the defeat of the movement of national Communists, because soon the power was removed Patryk Berklavs and other Latvian patriots, and the leadership was appointed reactionary arvīds Pulse which militated against the revival of “bourgeois nationalism” and zealously fought with the celebration of Ligo.
Who replaced Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev was in power for 18 years, but never found it necessary to visit Latvia. “The system worked in such a way that frequent visits to the Soviet Republic was not provided, because all issues are still decided in Moscow”, — says the former leader of the Communist party of Latvia Anatoly Gorbunov. He remembered that Gorbachev liked to spontaneously stop and talk to people on the side streets.
On arrival to Riga, the Soviet leader primarily laid flowers to the monument to Lenin (it was opposite the modern building of the Cabinet of Ministers). Seeing a crowd meeting, Gorbachev said, “Thank you for coming. But today in Riga somebody is working or not?”. People were reassured that work is underway. “To work we need. I hope that you have understood it,” — said Gorbachev. He then went to the Museum of Latvian red Riflemen (now the Museum of the occupation), the building of which he spoke to students of the Riga Polytechnic Institute Latvian state University. One of the students complained that cannot wait until construction is finished the pool in Kipsala. Gorbachev replied: “It certainly is bad, but you have the sea nearby!”. In the February cold, it sounded particularly encouraging.
Self-promotion of socialism
In the guest book of the Museum shooters Gorbachev left a note praising the Latvian Riflemen for their loyalty to the “ideals of the October revolution”. In 1987 was celebrated the 70th anniversary organised by the Bolsheviks in the 1917 revolution, which at that time was called “the great October socialist revolution”. During a visit to Riga, the Soviet leader, Gorbachev delivered a long speech in which he summed up the balance of achievements and shortcomings of the Soviet Union. Of course, he enthusiastically praised the achievements of socialism and stressed that “Russian soldiers helped the Baltic farmer and the fisherman to protect their land from the defilement and enslavement.” In his speech, Gorbachev declared: “Former bourgeois countries, characterized by economic stagnation and rigidity in the years of socialist transformations have become fully developed Soviet republics with a diversified industrial and agricultural economy, is of great scientific and cultural potential. That in itself is significant, because it is, in fact, was re-created a powerful mechanical engineering, power industry and chemical industry, formed a large commercial fishing fleet. Compared with 1940, when there was a membership in the USSR, industrial production volume in Latvia has increased in 55 times. This is an example that shows what people can accomplish in a socialist society.”
But at the same time, Gorbachev allowed himself to publicly criticize some shortcomings of the socialist economy. For example, he pointed out that in the farms of Latvia, the average milk yield from cow at 560 kg less than in Estonia, and 104 kg less than in Lithuania. And “dynamics of grain production,” weak: grain yield for five years is not higher than 27 centners from hectare (in modern Latvia, the average grain yield of 45 quintals per hectare). “Less than Cabinet meetings, less pathos and delight. More work. This is the slogan of our time. It is important to help all employees of the party, Soviet and economic apparatus to turn to practical matters and to the extent possible, to put an end to the writing of papers”, — said Gorbachev.
Combating “green serpent”
In order to evaluate the implementation of the principles of restructuring in practice, Gorbachev called for huge at the time production company WEF. The newspaper of the Communist party of Latvia Cīņa described the conversation of the President of the USSR with a 27-year employee of the plant Bernardi Simone, the mother of two young children. “Talking about his family life, she reasoned, of course, two small rooms for four people is not a luxury. Could be better… But immediately corrected said: it would be better if we all — and, first of all I am going to learn how to work more effectively, eradicate shop marriage will overcome negligence, superficiality and the desire to give the public less, and to receive from him fully. This is the viewpoint of the common man, and it clearly reflects the changes that are taking place in the minds of millions of Soviet people: personal welfare of each is inseparable from the growth of wealth of society.”
Workers VEF praised Gorbachev started combating “green serpent”, the campaign against destroying many families of alcoholism and drunkenness. This topic was discussed in one of the Riga children’s homes, which was attended by wife Raisa Gorbachev. “All the children are beautifully dressed, well cared for and provided with toys and educational games. I’m Rita! And I’m Santa!.. Irma, Christina, Igor, Ingrida, Guntis… Dozens of children’s voices joyfully met the guests. Now at the orphanage just over 100 children and last year there were twice as many. Even an example of one of our orphanage, said the tutor, allows you to judge the success achieved in our country in the fight against alcoholism and drunkenness. However, this problem — when children are left without parents — only suspended. All of society, said Mr. Gorbachev, should seek to eradicate,” wrote Cīņa.
Ādaži “window dressing”
Naturally, the leadership of the local Communist party during the Gorbachev visit was to show Latvia only the bright side, to create the impression that the state is all right. Gorbachev was acquainted with the Exhibition of achievements of national economy of the Latvian SSR, and on 18 February he and Raisa was taken to the agricultural Riga district “Adagio”, where the enterprising Chairman of the Alberta Kauls has created a veritable model farm. The couple Gorbachev was in awe of what he saw in Adazi, recognizing that it is an ideal for which to strive all Soviet collective farms. (Kauls later became an adviser to Gorbachev on issues of agriculture).
The leader of the USSR visited secondary school and kindergarten Adazi. In school, he entered into a discussion with the students, asking their opinion about the youth dedicated to the subject of the movie “Easy to be young?” and “Scarecrow”. Great joy Gorbachev delivered what the children sang for him the Latvian folk song “Six little drummers” and one Russian song. However, Gorbachev’s wife Raisa in ādaži kindergarten was in a big confusion due to the fact that Latvian kids don’t know the language of big brother, and asked the five year old girl: “Why don’t you speak Russian?”.
Deputy Director of the ādaži kindergarten Chicane Anita recalls that there were also groups for Russian children, but the couple Gorbachev chose to visit the Latvian group. Workers of a kindergarten have got used to such “ostentatious” visits by various delegations visited almost every day. Before Gorbachev’s visit was made more stringent security measures; security officers checked the entire territory of the kindergarten, and employees were given special permits.
Gorbachev and his wife met with children, educators which was Aria Bula. She recalls that Raisa was delighted with what he saw on the shelves of the candy and asked if they are true. Bula explained that the candy is artificial, made of clay. Raisa asked a few pieces to show to their grandchildren. “We have to such a have become accustomed,” says Aria, who is now working in Baldone head cemetery. “With a very noisy workplace has moved to a very quiet,” she laughs.
As says the former head of Riga city police Department Viktor Bugai, on the day of departure of Gorbachev in Adazi on the phone 02 the police have called a man. He said that on the way back, when Gorbachev will pass on Gorky street (now Krishjanisa the Cabinet), his car blown up. “This call was recorded and I went to the KGB. There we discussed what to do. Besides, soon the message was received that in one of the cellars near the Corner of the house (the building of the KGB) found the boxes, all of which disappeared charges. I offered to try to extend the stay of Gorbachev in Adazi, to get more time for threat assessment and prevention. Decided to let the previously planned route about the column, and Gorbachev is to guide the other way: Rumbula and Kengarags. Did so, and Gorbachev without any incidents reached the Jurmala residence, where he stayed during his visit. All ended safely, we did the job and we had a drink to calm the nerves,” says bull. According to him, arrived from Moscow KGB, which was responsible for Gorbachev’s security, raising the glass was fond of a lot stronger for their needs had to deliver a couple of crates of vodka.
To catch the caller and failed, and in the Western press, for example, in the publications Bild and Mail on Sunday later reported that in Riga prevented the planned attempt on Gorbachev. His detractors had intended to detonate explosives stuffed with a police car. For complicity in the attempt, was allegedly detained on 27 officials of the police and Communist party, who wanted a way to suspend initiated by Gorbachev’s reforms. The former police chief of bull about these arrests have not heard anything. Obviously, this was a duck of the Western press based on the crumbs of her findings.
Destroyed the Empire
During Gorbachev’s visit 50th anniversary was celebrated by the then head of the Communist party of the Latvian Boris Pugo, who for special services for the benefit of the Soviet authorities was awarded with the highest Soviet award — the Order of Lenin. However, after a few years of Gorbachev and buttons were on opposite sides of the trenches. In 1991, Pugo, who at that time was promoted to the post of Minister of internal Affairs of the USSR, supported the attempt against Gorbachev coup. After the failure of the August coup, Pugo and his wife Valentina had committed suicide.
The newspaper of the Latvian emigrants Latvija Amerikā (“Latvia in America”) in 1987, shortly after a visit by Gorbachev Riga, shrewdly noted: “Undoubtedly, Gorbachev, unlike his predecessors, the sick physically, is a politician of an entirely different caliber. But we should not forget that he is a figment of the regime of the Communist party, but too intelligent to take the bull by the horns in broad daylight. However, the resulting transformation or reform may affect the power and wealth of the big layer of the Soviet bureaucracy, and many psychics have said that, not later than four years later, Mikhail Gorbachev will be able to continue its reforms in the underworld, where he has prepared a place”.
The fruits under Gorbachev changes can be seen after a few months after his visit to Riga, when encouraged by human rights group “Helsinki-86” daredevils for the first time in many years, the occupation decided to go to the freedom Monument to commemorate the victims of deportations on 14 June 1941 and Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. For this opportunity in a greater measure we can be thankful for, including the father of perestroika, Gorbachev started the process that the Soviet government could not control it. Atmoda began, and soon the Soviet Empire collapsed like a house of cards.