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Monday Morning Brief | Breakup of the Soviet Union anniversary

January 02, 2017 07:00 AM

Watch as Scott catalog new-issues editor Marty Frankevicz discusses the 25th anniversary of the breakup of the Soviet Union, the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States and related stamps.

Full video transcript:

Good morning and welcome to the Monday Morning Brief for January 2, 2017. Happy New Year!

Last Monday, December 26th, marked the 25th anniversary of a rather momentous day in world history. Strangely enough, the commemoration of this anniversary received little attention in the press, drowned out by news surrounding the president-elect and lost in the fog of the holiday season. Twenty-five years ago, you may recall, Ronald Reagan’s ultimate dream was realized — the break-up of the Soviet Union.

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And yes, it became a pretty big day in philately as well. With the breakup, stamp catalogs went from listing the stamps of the Soviet Union to listing stamps from Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. In the last 25 years, most of those countries have issued a rather large number of stamps.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union came the introduction of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a “See? We’re still unified!” attempt to keep the now-free republics connected to Mother Russia in any way possible. The Baltic States — Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — still nursing their resentment from being occupied and incorporated into the Soviet Union in World War II, never accepted the invitation to join. And Georgia left the organization in 2008 after Russia went to war with it. So much for unity.

Only nine of the ex-Soviet republics are now full CIS members. And only four of the countries, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Russia, issued a stamp marking the 25th anniversary of the CIS, rather than issuing a stamp marking their independence from the Soviet Union.  Remarkably, not all of the remaining republics decided to issue stamps to mark their independence from the Soviet grip. Apparently some subjects are still a bit too touchy for some countries. But considering that the capitals of most of these countries are only a short tank ride from Russia, one can perhaps appreciate the reluctance to inflame the situation.

So while the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Independent States marked the end of the Soviet Union, it never, in the way that Reagan hoped would happen, shot a fatal silver bullet through the heart of cult-of-personality autocracy, something that still lives quite healthily in a number of the ex-Soviet republics.

For Linn’s Stamp News and the Scott Catalogs, I’m Marty Frankevicz. Enjoy your week in stamps.