Russian MPs seek to punish Gorbachev for Soviet Union’s collapse

A group of MPs formally requested the prosecutor general examine Gorbachev for breaking up the Soviet Union in 1991

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A handful of Russian MPs are pushing for an investigation against former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on charges of treason for breaking up the Soviet Union, a lawmaker said on Thursday.

Citing recent events and the Ukrainian crisis in particular, Communist Party Deputy Ivan Nikitchuk and five other MPs have formally requested the prosecutor general examine Gorbachev, The Guardian reported Thursday.

“We asked to prosecute him and those who helped him destroy the Soviet Union for treason of national interests,” said Nikitchuk, adding that when the country broke up in 1991, citizens were opposed to it.

Seeking to create a more open and prosperous Soviet Union through glasnost and perestroika, Gorbachev, now 83, ended up unleashing forces that swept away the empire he had sought to preserve and himself from power.

“The consequences of that destruction can be felt today in the conflicts that we have seen,” said Nikitchuk.

The Communist Party deputy cited not only Ukraine but other former Soviet countries that the collapse of the empire had negatively affected over the past two decades.

In February, a popular pro-Western uprising in Ukraine ousted pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who has since fled to Russia.

As a response, the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine's Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea and eventually annexed it.

“What is happening in Ukraine can happen in Russia, too,” said Nikitchuk. “This pushed us to write to the prosecutor general, so that professional lawyers rather than historians can investigate the events of 1991.”

Unlike previous times MPs endeavored to have Gorbachev investigated, the current request is backed by some lawmakers from the ruling party, United Russia.

Gorbachev responded by saying that the initiative was “poorly thought out and groundless from a historical point of view.”

“Such calls only show that some lawmakers want publicity,” he told the Interfax news agency. A spokeswoman at the prosecutor's office declined to comment.

The Soviet Union officially ceased to exist in December 1991 after Russia, Belarus and Ukraine signed the Belavezha accords dissolving the USSR. Gorbachev resigned two weeks later.

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