Crimea-happy Russians want Gorbachev to pay for loss of Soviet empire

Still radiant over their annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, some members of Russia’s parliament are more nostalgic than ever for the Soviet Union — and on the prowl for someone to blame for its loss. Why not 83-year-old Mikhail Gorbachev?

Five deputies of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, have asked the nation’s prosecutor general to investigate Gorbachev, who was the president of the Soviet Union when it collapsed in 1991, and bring him to account, Russian news media reported Thursday.

Many Russians — especially the older and the poorer — have long harbored wistful feelings about their Soviet past. The acquisition of Crimea, however, has begun to change the national narrative, whetting the appetite for restoration of empire among the well-
educated and informed, and even making the idea respectable.

Yevgeny Fyodorov, a Duma deputy who belongs to the dominant United Russia party, told the Izvestia newspaper that the end of the Soviet Union had been a troublesome but unexamined issue for 23 years. The situation in Ukraine, he said, meant that the effects of the Soviet demise could no longer be ignored — a reference to Moscow’s assertions that Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine are under threat. An investigation, Fyodorov said, would shed light on “fifth columns” at work today.