Author Archives: Alex A

Comment on Demise of the Aral Sea by Alex Apollonio

I’ve done a lot of reading on the Aral Sea in the past, and it really is beyond tragic what’s happened. The Kazakh government has built dams as a way to keep a tiny bit of water in the north and bring the sea closer to some of these towns than it’s been in years, but the Uzbeks don’t have the money or the will to do anything of that sort. Here’s to hoping that one day the Amu Darya and Syr Darya are allowed to be directed back to how they’re meant to be. Continue reading

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Comment on The Rise of Vladimir Putin by Alex Apollonio

Putin really is a fascinating character. Yeltsin tried to reshape his country’s culture, creating a continuation between the Russian Empire and the new Russian state. Lots of Soviet remnants were whitewashed. Putin has done the opposite, bringing back the old anthem, leaving the red stars on top of the Kremlin, etc. It certainly seems like he’d be perfectly happy had the Soviet Union never fell.

Also, speaking of Putin’s “action hero” image, I recommend you read SuperPutin: http://www.superputin.ru/englishski/ Continue reading

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Comment on Buy, Buy, BUY! by Alex Apollonio

Going back to this post, I feel like it really foreshadows a lot of the attitudes towards free markets that we saw emerge after Gorbachev’s reforms. The fact that the Soviet people “wanted fashion and the latest in luxury,” displays a very bourgeois attitude, and I think it shows that the overthrow of the Soviet order in favor of a more capitalistic system was a long time coming. Continue reading

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Comment on The Afghani Government plays Russian Roulette by Alex Apollonio

Great post. The revelation about the Russian invasion taking place so soon after that article by state press is particularly interesting. Afghanistan was right across the border from them, and I’m sure they had to have gotten their hands on intelligence which would alert them to a coup at the very least. The more likely situation would be that the rebels of 1978 were working directly with the Soviets to overthrow the government. Continue reading

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Comment on Moscow Summer Olympics by Alex Apollonio

It’s a bit of a shame, I think, that so many countries opted to boycott the Olympics, as it sort of goes against the spirit of the event. At the same time, I can understand why it would look strange to condemn a country and then send your athletes their to help boost their economy. Continue reading

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Comment on Chernobyl: Crisis in a Crucial Time by Alex Apollonio

Great blog post. Like that you covered the impact of Chernobyl in multiple areas. Just a couple of weeks ago, I watched a documentary called “Chernobyl Heart,” about the health effects of the disaster, which can still be seen today. Let me tell you, it’s not for the faint of heart. Thousands of children have been abandoned in poorer areas of Belarus, most of which still has high radiation levels, as a result of physical and mental birth defects. One doctor stated that only 15 to 20% of the babies he delivers are born totally healthy. Continue reading

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Comment on Prohibiton in Russia by Alex Apollonio

That video was great! Really cool. The building the police officer entered reminded me of a crack house; living in a society where alcohol has never caused such widespread issues, it gives us perspective as to how much of an epidemic was really being caused. I’d be interested to see a study on the roots of alcoholism during this time. Continue reading

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Comment on Give Me Latvia or Give Me Death by Alex Apollonio

I’m glad someone decided to go more in-depth into the topic how nationalism influenced independence movements around this time. Demonstrators who fought for state sovereignty and protection of inalienable rights were probably the most influential people – maybe only second to Gorbachev – in the fall of the Soviet Union. Continue reading

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Comment on A&E presents: Russian Moonshiners by Alex Apollonio

A lot of people chose to write about this topic, and it’s easy to see why. The fact that the USSR brought in more money from its alcohol tax than its income tax is absolutely unbelievable. As you say, there are many similarities between this situation and the U.S. under Prohibition, with the bit about the distillery being particularly reminiscent of speakeasies of the 1920s. Continue reading

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Comment on The Collapse of the Soviet Union by Alex Apollonio

Hindsight is 20/20, but I really don’t see how Gorbachev thought the one-party Soviet state would last after his economic liberalization and opening up of the government. Maybe he thought people would be patriotic enough that they’d want to reform the old system instead of scrapping it altogether, but it seems to me like the governmental institutions of the USSR lost most public support years before any reforms. It was too little, too late. Continue reading

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