Putin Says Soviet Union’s Collapse Wasn’t Inevitable

  • Communist state could have been transformed, president says
  • Russian leader has greater power than USSR head, Zyuganov says

Russian President Vladimir Putin lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union, saying it wasn’t inevitable that the former superpower would disappear a quarter-century ago.

“You know how I feel about the collapse of the Soviet Union, it absolutely wasn’t inevitable,” Putin said Friday at a Kremlin meeting with leaders of parliamentary parties. “A transformation was possible, including of a democratic nature.”

His remarks, in response to observations by Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, echoed Putin’s 2005 comment that the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. The USSR was dissolved in December 1991, four months after a failed coup by Communist hard-liners to try to thwart Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev’s plan to devolve power to individual republics. It collapsed more than 18 months after Lithuania led the Baltic republics in declaring independence.

Putin met with political leaders after his United Russia party swept to its biggest-ever majority in parliamentary elections on Sunday, winning 343 of 450 seats. The president’s power is so great that it shouldn’t serve the interests of one party, Zyuganov said.

“Under the current constitution, you have more authority than the general secretary” in Soviet times “and twice as much as the U.S. president,” Zyuganov said.