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20 Years After The Big Breakup, Does The 'Former Soviet Union' Still Exist?

  • Some of the so-called "Gang of Eight" coup plotters: Gennady Yanayev (center) declared himself acting Soviet president.
  • Tanks deployed on Kalinin Prospekt in central Moscow on August 19, 1991, at the start of the abortive putsch.
  • Young people sit on a barricade in front of the Russian White House in central Moscow early on August 20, 1991.
  • Tanks on Kalinin Prospekt in Moscow on August 19, 1991.
  • Crowds gather on Moscow's Manezh Square during the attempted putsch on August 20, 1991.
  • Russian President Boris Yeltsin stands atop a tank in Moscow on August 19, 1991, and calls for a general strike.
  • A tank at Borodinsky Bridge in Moscow on August 20, 1991.
  • People build a barricade in front of the Russian White House in central Moscow early on August 20, 1991.
  • People gather in front the Russian White House in Moscow on August 21, 1991.
  • Russian President Boris Yeltsin speaks at an extraordinary meeting of the Supreme Soviet on August 21, 1991.
  • President Mikhail Gorbachev arrives back in Moscow from his dacha in Crimea on August 22, 1991, after being held there.
  • Russian President Boris Yeltsin and some 100,000 supporters celebrate the collapse of the coup on August 22, 1991.
  • Famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich celebrates the defeat of the putsch with a crowd of Muscovites on Lubyanka Square.
  • Thousands of jubilant Muscovites march to Red Square in Moscow on August 22, 1991, carrying a giant Russian flag.
  • Russian President Boris Yeltsin challenges Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in the Supreme Soviet on August 23, 1991.
  • People follow a funeral procession for the three victims of the coup in front of Russian White House in Moscow on August - People follow a funeral procession for the three victims of the coup in front of Russian White House in Moscow on August 24, 1991.


PHOTO GALLERY: Images from the failed Soviet coup of August 19-21, 1991.

By Brian Whitmore, Robert Coalson

It has been 20 years since the failed coup that precipitated the breakup of the Soviet Union, 20 years since 15 new independent countries appeared on the global stage

But for citizens of these adolescent states, the meaning of the dramatic events of August 19-21, 1991, depends upon where one sits.

For those in Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius, those three days that shook the world two decades ago marked the beginning of a process that moved the Baltic states unambiguously toward democracy, free markets, and the European mainstream.

But for the Uzbeks, the Turkmen, and the Belarusians, the failed coup that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union meant something entirely different -- a precipitous slide into autocratic rule that earned these countries the dubious honor of being among what Freedom House calls "the world's most repressive societies."

And for the rest, it meant something in between.

Some, like Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia have moved in fits and starts toward some form of democratic or quasi-democratic rule. Others, most notably Russia, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan have settled into being soft autocracies or "managed democracies." Energy-rich Azerbaijan, meanwhile, became an authoritarian petro-state.

This vast range of regime types raises a question: Is it still even possible to speak of a region called "the former Soviet Union"?

The establishment -- or re-emergence -- of strong national identities, the relative weakening of Russian influence, the cultural, economic, and political pull of other powers like the European Union, Turkey, and China, and the rise of a post-Soviet generation to adulthood have all served to weaken the ties that once bound these countries tightly together.

"Every year that passes it gets harder to talk about the post-Soviet space and we need to start reformulating the idea," says Thomas De Waal, a senior associate with the Russia and Eurasia Program of the Carnegie Endowment in Washington and the author of numerous books on the Caucasus. "If these countries were children, then they would be 20 years old now. This is old enough to be making their own decisions, getting a job, buying a car, learning to drive certainly."

'We Were Very Naive'

For the less democratic parts of the ex-U.S.S.R., today's realities are a far cry from the euphoria of the 1991 events themselves. Boris Nemtsov participated in the opposition to the coup attempt in Moscow in 1991 and later became deputy Russian prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin in the late 1990s.

"We were very romantic. We believed that the way to freedom and a successful life would be much shorter than we recognized later," Nemtsov says, adding that he believed ending Communism would be enough to assure that democracy would take root.

"We were very naive -- not only me, but Yeltsin and all of our team. ... Unfortunately, reality looks much more serious and much more complicated than we believed at that time."

Boris Nemtsov: "Unfortunately, reality looks much more complicated than we believed at that time."

The countries that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union quickly realized the real scope of the challenges confronting them.

"They were all starting from zero," de Waal says, "and it was a bit of a lottery what they started with -- what they inherited from the Soviet command economy; what kind of cadres they had; whether or not they had -- as in all three Caucasus countries -- unresolved territorial disputes that would hamper them from the beginning; and then what kind of leaders they had, as you had quite a range there. So they were starting from zero with this state that disappeared from under their feet."

Nation-Building

One of the crucial tasks at hand was the formation of national identities in the new states, many of which had never been independent in the modern era.

Matthew Rojansky, director of the Carnegie Endowment's Russia and Eurasia Program, says the most significant change was "the creation and re-establishment and re-creation of new, independent identities" in these states, "which includes seeking to differentiate themselves from Russia even when people had been very heavily Russified and economies had been heavily Sovietized."


This was easier for some than others. The Baltic states, for example, were able to draw on their experience as independent countries between the two world wars. Others, like Armenia and Ukraine, had strong diasporas that helped keep their national traditions vibrant. But many had to start practically from scratch.

Steven Pifer, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution who served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 1998-2000, says the emergence of a national identity spanning all of Ukraine is among the country's key achievements of the last two decades.

"Remember, if you go back 15, 16 years ago, people were asking if Ukraine would exist as an independent state," Pifer says.

"I do believe in Ukraine that there is a sense of national identity, and that's in eastern Ukraine as well as western Ukraine. I mean, in eastern Ukraine it may not be quite as thick as it is in the west, but I think most Ukrainians now see Ukraine as an independent state and whatever issues they are going to face, they want to resolve those issues as a Ukrainian state."

John Tefft, the current U.S. ambassador to Kyiv and a former ambassador to Georgia, stresses the importance of the emergence of a post-Soviet generation -- people who have always known their countries as independent states.

"You know, [today] it's a whole different ball game than their fathers and grandfathers had." Tefft says. "So Ukraine, like so many of the other countries in this region, is going through this transition period, putting off the legacies of the Soviet Union and trying to become a modern European nation."

The transition process, however, has been uneven and in many cases it has been marked by a movement away from democracy rather than toward it.

"Azerbaijan is definitely less democratic than 20 years ago. Belarus definitely less," de Waal says. "In terms of state strength and everyday deliverables, maybe they are stronger, but on the democracy index they have moved back. Turkmenistan is definitely an example where they had more freedom in 1985 than they do now."

The Loss Of Empire

Russia, of course, is a special case.

For many in Russia, the collapse of the Soviet Union marked a significant loss of status and prestige.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has stated bluntly that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century. As a result, it has been harder for many Russians to imagine a future that is more attractive than the country's past, and leaders like Putin have exploited such nostalgia to restore authoritarianism at home and to exert influence in what Moscow sees as its "sphere of privileged interests."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has stated bluntly that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.

Moscow has attempted to buttress its influence through its energy wealth as well as via multilateral organizations like the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
 


"I don't think Russia is trying to re-create the Soviet Union," Pifer says. "But I think Russia -- the Russian concept of the 'sphere of privileged interests' is they would like a situation where countries such as Ukraine would defer to Moscow on issues that the Russians determine to be critical for Moscow."

In the case of Ukraine, for instance, NATO membership is out of the question from Moscow's point of view. But lately it seems that the Kremlin balks even at the distant prospect of Ukrainian membership in the European Union. Moscow has also been pressuring Kyiv to join a customs union with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

But de Waal notes that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Moscow to get its way as these countries become increasingly self-assured in their statehood and sovereignty.

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

The emergence of a generation of leaders in the post-Soviet states that has confidence in democracy and is willing to source its power from their electorates rather than from chummy relations with Moscow could be the next step in the dissolution of the concept of a "former Soviet Union."

Carnegie's Rojansky sees the wave of colored revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan as an important development in this direction, a sign of the generational weakening of the sociopolitical legacies of the Soviet experience.

"When you think about how much apparent -- stability is not even the word -- unchangeability or just stagnation there was from 1991 all the way until the early part and the middle part of the last decade, I think at that point colored revolutions came as a pretty significant surprise, certainly a very significant new development," Rojansky says.

So 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the region has moved from the era of the "former Soviet Union" to the era of post-former Soviet Union. Increasingly, they are 15 different states with their own webs of international relations and their own patterns of domestic sociopolitical development.

But two decades on, the process of change in these societies is far from complete.

"These are obviously still extremely vulnerable, extremely unstable," Rojansky says. "But at the same time, with great potential."

RFE/RL correspondents Irena Chalupa and Richard Solash contributed to this report from Washington
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
August 18, 2011 20:10
The fSU certainly exists in the minds of most geographically-challenged Americans. Even today, one can hear the talking heads referring to Russia or Ukraine as the USSR.

Regarding Russia’s sense of loss; 1991 did not start with clean historical slates. For centuries, Russians had lived, suffered and died in these neighboring regions. Why shouldn’t they feel somewhat offended at the forfeiture of this property?

As an American, I agree with one aspect of Putin’s sentiment. Had the USSR not collapsed, this country’s leadership might have been more wary in the employment of its military force. Pride, indeed, doth goest before (and after) the fall!
In Response

by: Andrew from: Tbilisi
August 20, 2011 05:54
Ray F, you certainly need an education with the above comment.

For centuries the Russians raped, murdered, looted and robbed in those territories. The Russian state is hated by those it oppressed for so long.

The victims of Russian imperialism, which committed the absolute worst genocidal crimes of the 19th and 20th centuries, and continues to commit ethnic cleansing from Transdenistr in Moldova to South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia, would all be somewhat offended by your ignorance and lack of empathy for the horrors they have suffered.

As for your unfortunate belief that the USSR would have been more wary in the employment of its military force, try studying the history of the employment of that force in eastern Europe, and the Russian support for terrorism during the 60's, 70's and 80's.

With citizens like you, the USA needs no external enemies that's for sure.
In Response

by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
August 21, 2011 19:35
Sir, Take a couple deep breadths and try to clear your vision.

You are correct; the expansion of any empire often requires the use of force. Such is the sorry record of all those who enlarge the king’s coffers. However, history is long, and you cannot hold the current generation of Russians responsible for the crimes committed by their distant ancestors. Moreover, you can’t use today’s standards when trying to gauge the past.

You weaken your argument by using such hyperbole (i.e. “absolute worst genocidal crimes of the 19th and 20th centuries”) and such comments suggest a shallow understanding of history.

You misunderstood my comment on why there might be some truth in Putin’s assertion that the collapse of the USSR was “the greatest geo-pol disaster of the 20th C.” Had the USSR still existed, political leaders in Washington might have been more circumspect in initiating unilateral military actions (outside of a UN resolution).

Finally, as one who was wounded on Active Duty in the US Army ,and who now has a son serving (who has fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan), I think I have a better understanding of what it means to be a US citizen than most.
In Response

by: Andrew from: Tbilisi
August 23, 2011 15:50
Listen Ray, they are not all "ancient crimes", but also include crimes committed in recent history, including ethnic cleansing and mass murder in the north and south Caucasus, for example the ethnic cleansing of Ingush from North Ossetia in 1989, the ethnic cleansing of Georgians from Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 1992-94 and in 2008, the ethnic cleansing of Moldovans from Transdenistr, and of course the massive war crimes committed in Chechnya, the ongoing killing of Georgians near the "ceasefire line", the constant disappearing of young men and women in the north caucasus, the rapes, looting and political violence that go with all of the above.

As I recall the Russians did not wait for a UN resolution for any of their actions prior to 1991, particularly the invasions of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan etc....

As for your US military service, I salute you (as a non US citizen)

As for "weakening my argument" the Circassian genocide is considered to be the worst single genocide of the 19th century, and is followed by the annihilation of the siberian natives.

I suspect my understanding of history is better than yours Ray.

BTW, I am not American, or Georgian.
In Response

by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
August 23, 2011 22:57
Sir, I could care less about your nationality, and only ask that you try to be objective. Each of the incidents you cite are incredibly complex and come with all sorts of history/background that make any black-white characterization impossible. Crimes were committed on all sides, and placing all the blame on the Russians is simply false. Recall that it was ‘Soviet’ forces that were used to quell the violence in the Prigorodny region in 91. And it was the USSR (and not Putin’s Russia) that was responsible for Hungary-56, Czech-68 etc…

I don’t have a dog in this fight, and it makes zero difference to me whether you change your views toward Russia or historical ‘truth.’ Indeed, my experience has shown that it is pointless to argue with zealots of any stripe. It is clear to me that you believe that you are 100% right; the Russians are all murderous bastards, and you alone possess the facts about the nature of history. Thanks for your enlightenment.

by: eric d from: IF Idaho USA
August 19, 2011 21:42
Soviet Communist Russia is, in fact, (probably?) defunct. But the "Great Russian" imperial ambition to dominate & control Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the North Caucasus & Central Asia continues in the Chechen War(s) (Russian-sponsored terror attacks...), the Georgian/Russian War (provoked by Russia to militarize & occupy S. Ossetia & Abkahazia), & the Russia attempts to manipulate Ukraine-an politics (for example, to keep the Russian fleet in Sebastopol). And former KGB (now FSB?) man Vladimir Putin is the poster-boy for the contemporary Post-Soviet Great Russian empire, who will stop at nothing to reestablish Great Russian control over the "breakaway repuiblics." And what remains the same from Soviet days to today is Russia's (the KGB's & FSB's) willingness to promote & inflame terrorist warfare as a pretext to destabilize those "breakaway republics" & keep covert secret police control over former "Russian" territories.

Yes, Ray. Russians in fact have lived (& suffered etc.) in the Baltic states, the Balkans, the North Caucasus etc. (as have Germans, Slavs, & even Lithanian, Latvian, Chechen, Inguish etc. peoples). But it was the "Great Russian imperialists" (Stalin) who deported the entire Chechen nation & "planted" Russian settlers there; who deported the German populations of Lithuisania & Latvia & the Ukraine & "planted" Russians there; & are currently (in the Post-Stalin, Putin era) deporting Georgians from S. Ossetia & Abkahazia & "planting" Russians there. That, too, remains the same 20 years after the Soviet empire; 80 years after Stalin; 200 years after Lermontov's "A Hero of Our Time"; & who knows how many years after "Prince Igor's Campaign" etc.

It is sincerely to be wished that stable, democratic states will emerge & prosper in the former Soviet (Great Russian) sphere of influence. But it won't happen as long as Vladimir Putin & the FSB continue to destabilize those former "Soviet" (Russian etc.) states by promoting self-defeating terrorist attacks & bloody ethnic wars that only keep those "breakaway republics" in a constant state of chaos & anarchy.
In Response

by: Vale from: Pasadena
August 23, 2011 16:15
Your comment about Russia trying to militarize Abkhazia & Ossetia are wrong. Russia recognized because they had no other choice, to avoid a regional conflict. If you know, everyone would have tried to kick Georgian a$$ if they got what they wanted in Ossetia. Please do not spread lies to suit your arguments. Georgia always worked with Russians, there is no separation. We all understand this well in political arenas and diplomatic circles. Make some friends in these places, you will understand.

by: Katrin from: Estonia
August 20, 2011 06:15
Greetings to Former Great Britain from Former Soviet Union!
In Response

by: Don Adams from: Pennsuylvania, USA
August 20, 2011 17:56
The combined comments were more instructive than the original article.

Thank you to those who posted!

Katrin's comment was extremely ppotent.

by: George from: LA
August 23, 2011 19:13
Armenia is an authoritarian puppet state of Russia. About 28 people were killed in the last election, what democracy are you talking about?
In Response

by: Taxpayer from: USA
August 24, 2011 02:45

"George" from the Azeri Consulate in LA or DC Embassy, wherever, please stop trolling this site. Compare Armenia and Artsakh democracy to your Azeri-Turk Sultanate - just see the articles published on this site about the corrupt Aliyev clan stealing from the population of the so-called "Azerbaijan Republic" where native peoples like Lezgi. Tolysh, Udin, Tat, etc. are discriminated against by the brutal Turkic minority.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
August 25, 2011 23:00
I apply to this Forum with proposition to display real names,
countries and nations of origins of repetative patalogical liers
of Russian nazi expansion - here, above their comments!

I do everything to clear the truth on behalf of victims of occupations
and different formes of genocide by Russia, trying to criticize
avalance of Russian agents-provokateurs, wile they boldly
spit at the face of truth under assumed, usually Western, names,
overwealming me by numbers - and some of them, inlisted in USA
agencies, making me sick and killing in apartment building, I reside...

I am writing with heart pain, inflicted by them even now...
In Response

by: Mike from: NY
August 28, 2011 08:33
Please grow a pair and stop posting drivel on these articles
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
August 28, 2011 18:02
Are you threatening me?
I posted a legitimate complain that some most timely comments
of mine are not posted, maybe because of some pro-Russians,
not unlike you, blocking them!
In Response

by: Mike from: NY
August 29, 2011 16:46
Konstantin, NO ONE appreciates your terrible poems filled with lies and grandiose and demented visions of a Georgia that created human civilization, invented the wheel, started Christianity in Europe, and was the first to mine for gold (maybe the last one is not something you wrote but I wouldn't put it past you to write a similar falsehood in the future). I am merely asking you to write normal things, not these crazy lies. We all sit here and laugh at you on a weekly because we know you will always provide the crazy to end our work week. Seriously, enough already. You look like a fool, and you make your Georgian people look more desperate to cover their BS than they do already.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
September 09, 2011 19:07
Is't enough Mike from NY!
Are you communicating somewhere with your Russia hulligans,
like "Shtirlitc" - talking to me like I am one of you?
No way!
Never in my life I agreed to be a plagiarized Russian loyalist!
Never I agreed to write, being abroad, good of Russia and slender
against non-Russians!

Before I applied for immigration, "OVIR" demanded a signature
from a KGB officer from my employment corporation.
I even didn't know they had one and was surprized when he told me to
give promiss not to involve in politics, and hinching in wordings and
innuendoes by his agents on streets to prize Russia and to
follow the party line against other nations (like to lie against
Stalin and non-Russians).
I refused.
Before I left first time for Moscow with papers, they tried to assassin
me amost every day - to push with buldozers down to excavation,
they stabbed a pike, welded to authomatic gates, under my heart's
shoulder blade, they badly shifted my spinal disks and so on...

After I tyried tell in USA ambassy about it (I didn't have any English), they
continued assassination attempts and pressure by "Non Letal Weapons",
gipnotists, treats and harrassments.
They still continue it in USA, using corrupted and greedy American agencies, using their plagiaristic and "We are Masters here" insticts...

So, bug-off, Mike!
Not all born in the East sined to obey your Russian aggressors and liers!
Not all born in the East sined to obey your Russia and plagiarist USA
agencies, like "RAND" that pay someone like you for being born in the
West and once being in the East to harrass and to plagiarize someone
like me!
In Response

by: Mike from: NY
September 12, 2011 21:50
Konstantin, were you high and watching some movies when you wrote that last comment of yours? WOW!
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
September 13, 2011 22:21
In responce to "Mike", posted on 29, 2011, 16:46:

"...grandiose and demented vision of a Georgia that created
human civilization, invented the weel, started Christianity in Europe...
...first to mine for gold..."

Unlike you, I have an opened mind - thought it is in textbooks and
archeology evidence (see "WorldFreedomAndTruth.info").
It is angreely ignored by Russian aggressors and expansionists,
even by brainwashed by them Cousins-Emperors and proxies
in the West and in Third World ccountries.
Russia, with help of British, cancated "demented" race theories
of "Mykop- Gudauta" (MineKampf-GudenUten) being the origins of
Human Civilization - using some artifacs from graves of tribe of Gad,
"pre-Georgians" and "pre-Ukrainians" (from about three milleniums
ago) - FOR YOUR RUSSIA JUSTIFY CLEANSING AGAINST GEORGIA.

It may be other ancient sorces, like a sunken civilization between
South Japan and China, or lost in deserts of Central Asia, or Sahara
and so on, but so far the Caucasian source is a most convincing one.
I said - not just Georgia - estafet of Iberia-Albania-Colhis Caucasian
lands as it shown on the maps since some 10-th millenium B.C...

I modestly overwrite falshood of FORGED IN MOSCOW AND LONDON
NAZI RACE THEORIES which they use to destroy Caucazian race and
Human Civilization for Russian Empire, which you are lying for!

The weel was indeed invented (or brought to) - in heart of
Iberia-Albania-Colhis-Caucasus "pre-Georgian" Civilizations, than
moved on through Asia Minor, Messopothamia and Egipt - so what?
Need a bull-cart to load your insults of hulliganic Russia and take
it back?

Christianity didn't start in Georgia first (only one of the first in Europe).
I never said that.
However, Christian Humanism, Knighthood and Chevalry and some other things were brought to Europe since Prince Murvan (Peter of Iberia) and his book "Korpus Areapagus", Rustaveli's "Knight in Lepard Skin" and so on.

Also, in 15-th Century B.C. South Iberians from Ararat plains were invaded
by Chaldeo-Persian Urartu - about half were killed.
The rest moved to Europe, accompanied by South-Colhis (Lidia, Hetia
and so on) small groups and individuals.
They started the first settlements and civilizations in most of Europe
(From Balkans and Italy through Spain and Portugal, and from South
France through Britain)...


Colhis were mining gold lon ago, at least before Greeks that stole "Golden
Fleece" .
I didn't say that they were first...
Georgians were hospitable people, not as greedy as New-Yorkers in
Alaska at the time of the "golden madness" -
maybe your grandfather was first, Mike?
At least according to Jack London and O'Henry...

"...we all sit here and laugh..." - how much you payed for that phraze,
squized out of your damaged in Russia brain?


by: Marko from: USA
September 02, 2011 12:53
People need to read Golitsyn's "New Lies For Old" and Nyquist's "Origins Of The Fourth World War" if they want to see if the former Soviet Union still exists. It does. The West has been hoodwinked into believing they won the Cold War. When missiles are approaching cities from Russian and Chinese subs off the coasts of America, the enormity of the West's blunder will be seen, but it will be too late to do anything about it.

by: Douglas from: Canada
September 11, 2011 13:14
What is instructive about this insane debate is how American CIA interference in the FSU has intentionally exacerbated extreme nationalist feelings between the different nationalities. All this is done, of course, in the name of democracy and freedom. But where is the freedom for the hundreds of thousands of Russians, Ukrainians, etc. who are deprived of their vote and their rights in the so-called democracies of Estonia and Latvia? Where is the freedom for the hundreds of thousands of refugees of different nationalities throughout the FSU? Yes, Putin received his training from the KGB, but RFE is an instrument of the CIA, as much interested in disinformation as that organization was. On the subject of the break-up of the Soviet Union being a catastrophe, Putin is saying no more than Gorbachev, who rightly struggled to the end to save the USSR. The CIA, in the name of 'freedom' and 'democracy,' has spread hatred and bloodshed throughout the world - not just in the FSU, but in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now in Libya. Americans could care less about the hundreds of thousands they have killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, or the Christian minorities in Iraq murdered or driven from their homes. If the USSR was an evil empire, then the CIA, and its instrument RFE, has a thousand times more blood on its hands.

by: Anonymous
September 14, 2011 04:11
John Tefft to ambassador to Ukraine, not Kyiv. Kyiv is the capital of the country of Ukraine.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
September 16, 2011 02:11
To Mike's comment of 12, 2011 21:50:

That, Mike, must call for a "friendly" joke,
As was told about cought by "Ments" NY sh.oke:
"Didn't he know that "Ment" is a bad partner in crime?
Did he watch movies or news? Why be a Russian poke
Against truth and be cought, having on him a planted dime?"

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