What some former Soviet republics seek to get from Russia

Georgia. The prominent Georgian mathematician Saakashvili first calculated kind of US$600 million. Then he changed his mind and declared that the sum could increase up to 1 billion. Just like in the joke about a farmer who were selling a chicken for a thousand dollars. Having been questioned why it's so expensive, he answered: "I badly need money".

However, the demands of Saakashvili can still be called “moderate” as compared with the conditions laid down in 1799 by the Georgian king George. He asked Paul I of Russia to take Georgia under the protection of Russia, demanding for himself and his heirs the perpetual reign and the right to solely dispose of all revenues. As for the living expenses for the Russian garrisons, guarding the king and his kingdom, he preferred to impose them on the Russian treasury. In addition he asked for a trifle: several Russian villages with serfs. And he got it!

Latvia went even further. The chairman of the Latvian parliament's foreign affairs committee, Aleksandrs Kirsteins, announced that Latvia's claim varied between $60 and 100 billions – for “occupation, deportation and other villainies”. Nevertheless the Latvians are also going to raise “political, historical, territorial and property claims”.

The Estonians prepared the bill to 4 billions for the alleged environmental damage inflicted by the Soviet Union and 13.5 billions worth compensation for “political repressions”.

The parliament of Lithuania works on the same lines. The Lithuanians at first valued the indemnity at $278 billions, but then moderated their appetite. The parliament resolved to oblige the government to negotiate with Russia about $20 billions.

Besides money all these “new democracies” want Russia to apologize to them. First of all for the fact that our army defeated the Nazis and drove them out of the Baltics.

The demands of the new Ukrainian authorities are not widely known but not less impressing. These newly born democrats urgently need money to stop up holes in the budget. That's why Ukraine suddenly recalled about her part of the Soviet legacy. And now she wants to get more than $12 billions, over 42 metric tons of gold (circ. $600 million) and 37 foreign assets worth of over $1 billions.

Further to money claims our neighbors seek to retrieve “the historic justice”.

It's not surprising that the “historic justice” is vindicated most frenetically by Georgia's leader Saakashvili, since he's as strong in history as in mathematics. According to him, the Russians are no different from the Romans, the Persians, and the Ottomans who conquered this proud Caucasian people for want of anything better to do.

As Saakashvili has it, Georgians didn't flee to Russia desperately requesting the Russian protection, but the Russians simply conquered them. Thereby depriving them of the right to be slaughtered by the Ottoman or Persian empires. We overreacted and now have to pay for it.

Except for eastern Ukraine, all these countries were always the most backward territories of the empires to which they belonged. The foundation of their today's relative welfare (most of which they managed to squander away over the last decade) was laid under the Soviet “occupation”. It makes sense to count up what USSR invested into these territories.

Over the years of the Soviet “occupation” not only new factories and plants were built in Latvia, but also the best in USSR road network and hundreds of bridges. However, bridges and roads are the least heritage left by USSR. The Latvians like saying that their former pride, the VEF Electrical Engineering Works, existed already before the Soviets. And it's true. The artisan workshop was established as early as in XIX century, and before the sovietization it was quite powerful enterprise with 4 thousands workers. But in the USSR it became the world-renowned brand – the enterprise which could be valued today at 2.5 billions dollars, which had 20 000 workers. But now this plant doesn't already exist. Its equipment had been sold out by 1999, and 75 000 square meters of its industrial buildings were bought by Italians for $ 1.5 million to occupy with a shopping center. This is definitely one of the most striking achievements of the independent Latvia.

The Soviet Union began to invest in the Baltics immediately after the Nazis had been driven out of it's territory, even before the end of the war. As a result over the first 5 postwar years the quantity of resorts and sanatoria on the Latvian seashore increased sixteen times. Already by 1947 the Latvia's industry surpassed its prewar level. In 1940 the life expectancy in Latvia was not more than 58 years; the infant mortality was one of the highest in Europe – 73. By the early 70s the life expectancy increased up to 70 years, the infant mortality decreased almost fivefold.

According to a conservative estimation, Latvia inherited from the Soviet Union over 500 large-scale industrial enterprises, almost half of which exported their produce abroad.

By the 70s Georgia got over $ 22 billions of investments. Even the tea industry in this republic appeared only during the Soviet period. Raising claims to Russia, Saakashvili never proposed to return to Russia the Transcaucasian railroad builtby the “occupiers”.

By 1940 the industry of Bessarabia (now Moldova) consisted of 13 enterprises, with no more than 100 workers at each. Only 9 of them used steam power, the rest did with only manual labor. After the war the republic got several power stations, gas pipe lines, well-developed food, wine and tobacco industries. Now the area under vineyards is at best half of what it used to be in the Soviet times. “Once a blooming garden of the Soviet Union, as Moldova was called in the Soviet times, we became the poorest and the most corrupted post-soviet country”, confessed the acting president of Moldova, Mr. Voronin.

Even now our good neighbors earn money with a help of Russia. Latvia's Ventspils port is loaded up to 80% with Russian transit. And their exports go primarily to Russia, which makes them quite vulnerable to possible Russian sanctions. Almost 85% of Georgian imports come from Russia, mainly foodstuffs and primary products. Most of able-bodied Georgians work in Russia. By experts' estimate Georgian immigrants send annually from Russia to their families in Georgia over US$ 1 billions. The Georgian power engineering depends directly on the Russian gas and electricity. Russia buys 65% of wine produced in Moldova. A “Moldavian” is associated in Russia with “builder”, “fitter” and “repairman”. Russia pays VAT to Ukraine for the right of transiting Russian oil to the West, between US$ 800 million and 1 billion per year. At least 30% of the revenues of the Baltic states are derived thanks to the transit of Russian goods.

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Author`s name Margarita Kicherova