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The year 1989 represents a paradox of the modern history. Not long ago the USSR was the biggest fear of the whole world. The Soviet Union exemplified an enormous political, economical, and military power. The revolution of 1917 gave birth to a giant child. That creation walked the earth very fast, and, by the end of 1960, it enforced communist structures all over the world. China, Cuba, Poland, Czechoslovakia illustrate ramifications of the system. In 1989 the child suddenly vanished. The German reunification, the rejection of the communist rules by the liberal Hungarian government, and the Romanian revolution, which solved with the execution of Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, speak about the instability of that time. It was the end of a historical epoch.
Ten years have passed since those days. I still remember learning to write using the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic, the Popular Front movement in Moldova, and the impressive demonstrations and rebellions showed on television. I was just a young child. Everybody was happy and excited. New bright times were supposed to come, and they did, but not for everybody. People soon found that the new discovered capitalism meant a drop in living standards, rising unemployment, reduced social benefits, and growing inequality. This started the period of transition, but life would improve...
Life did improve. Hungary, Poland, and the Baltic countries proved that capitalism meant a brighter future and a better life. The statistics regarding the economical condition of Hungary show that the country obtained immense achievements and important developments in the political and economical spheres of life. (Nations, Online) The situation of the Baltic countries is not much different from those in the Western Europe. What happened to the rest of the post-soviet countries? Why is the present situation in Eastern Europe so deplorable?
Corruption affects all level of society, but it has the worst effects when it comes from the top. The whole political and economical structure of the former USSR is influenced by this social malady. The analysts are looking for a drug to treat the disease, but this virus adapts with an incredible speed. Everybody is corrupt. Such a statement sounds very paradoxical, but it is very close to reality.
"The American headlines about corruption in Russia are revolving around two separate and so far unrelated allegations. One is that Yeltsin and his daughters,
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Note that this fragment involves very high state positions and political leaders. "Tax evasion is one of the principal factors behind the government's poor balance sheet"(Saunders, 46+). On the other side "criminal activity among the [Russian] Armed Forces continues to increase" (Zhilin, 3+). Even the army, which is supposed to guard the national integrity, is corrupted.
Many areas of life are overtaken by the criminal structure. "Russian mobsters target Central Europe, and FBI says nyet Hand grenades explode at strip bars and casinos as mobsters battle over turf, from Warsaw to Sofia. In Slovakia, an ex-policeman's severed head becomes a hood ornament on his car" (Condon, 18+).
The private businesses would have a chance to change the situation in Eastern Europe, but no, the organized crime took control over the business sphere, too. The former Soviet Union censures and bureaucracy are gone, but a new, criminal bureaucracy was immediately formed. Many businessmen are oppressed and supervised by the criminal organizations. The construction created by the criminal structure is very large, and it is actually nothing else than a spider web with the spider in Moscow. I remember, when one of the leaders of the organized crime in Chisinau, Moldova, was arrested, the newspapers revealed that the Moscow's criminal headquarters are infiltrating a new boss in the area. The criminal system is far more powerful that it seems. The FBI and Britain's National Criminal Intelligence believe that Russian organized crime "has direct control over criminal operations - from money laundering to art smuggling - in Hungary and the Czech Republic" (Saunders, 46+). The world does not need the KGB agents anymore; it has the Russian criminal agents.
The Eastern European political arena experiences one shock after another. A pure democracy is supposed to permit political pluralism, but the political parties, figures, and the associated organizations invaded the arena like an uncontrolled outburst of viruses. Governments, deputies, and senators became some very episodical figures. The Russian President changed more than four governments in the last 17 or 18 month. The government in Moldova resigns almost every month, and the political leaders, vice-presidents, and the speakers hold the offices just enough to say hello when they are fired. Hodie adsit, cras absit. Boris Yeltsin, the president of the Russian Federation, experienced a number of heart attacks and heart surgeries in the last couple years, and his life is endangered almost everyday. He no longer appears on television. Such health conditions would not permit anybody to work effectively. Yeltsin plays the role of a marionette on the political stage, and this would probably mean that there is something very powerful behind him. May it be the underground criminal structure coupled with corruption? The observed political hurricane has horrible effects on the economy and on the conditions of life in Eastern Europe. This may actually be one of the causes of the last year's financial crisis in the region. The inflation in Moldova, during a period of a two to three months, jumped to an insane value of over 240%. In such conditions, the economy is definitely in a jam.
The budget institutions in Moldova, Ukraine, Russia cannot pay the salaries to their workers. Some people did not receive their paycheck for more than a year. Many others did not see paychecks for over two years. Somebody in the United States will think that I am joking, but this is the Eastern European reality. Such a situation means a total crash. Teachers, doctors, and scientists leave their jobs and become salesmen on the market. It is sad to see a couple of poorly dressed people behind the counter and talking about the quantum mechanics or some new ideas for external osteosynthesis in orthopedic surgery. Those who did not quit their jobs are striking. They ask for money to feed and dress their children. Students do not go to school because the teachers refuse to work for free. Many other children cannot go to school because they do not have shoes or clothes. All these factors result in a big damage to education and destruction of the intelligent population which serves as a proximate cause of the catastrophe. It all has a negative effect on the stability and the overall situation of the countries. In the same time, it stimulates corruption. People are involved with bribing and corrupting as a way to earn money and to survive, even though everything is going into hell.
All the facts lead to a very simple conclusion. The situation of the Eastern European countries is very dreadful. All the spheres of life are troubled, and many reforms are necessary to obtain any changes. Everything is paradoxical, and this situation is more than probably a result of increased criminal activity and a very refined criminal structure. When corruption affects such areas like government and military, the country is in very bad trouble. To solve such problems, a vast analysis and radical changes are needed. If not, such a situation can very soon lead to a totalitarian government and dictatorship, and the "iron curtain", even though it is no longer red, may drop in between Eastern and Western Europe again. God knows how many years it would take to raise it again. There is a great need for help...
Bivens, Matt. "Launder Yeltsin: How US Hypocrisy Feeds Russian Corruption". Nation. October 4, 1999. 1999:269.i10.p11.
Zhilin, Alexander. "Officers Prepared to Build a New Army". Moscow News. July 10, 1997. p3.
Condon, Christopher. "Europe Go West, Young Thug". Business Week. December 7, 1998. p18.
Saunders, Paul J. "The Unfortunate Reality of Russia: a Thorough Corrupt Society". Insight on the News. October 18, 1999. v15.i38.p46.
"Nation in Transit". Online. 1999. Available at: www.freedomhouse.org/nit98.
Author: Valentin Antoci (email@example.com) October 1999
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