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Late Soviet Responses to Disasters, 1989-1991: A New Approach to Crisis Management or the Acme of Soviet Technocratic Thinking?*

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Under Gorbachev, the Soviet government proved unable to face the dismantling tendencies that led ultimately to the collapse of the Soviet Union as a political regime and a territorial state—the awakening of nationalism, the loss of state legitimacy, ecological disaster, and financial crisis, to name only a few. This article reveals that the Soviet government was acutely aware of these growing risks and of the need to address them in a new way. It analyzes how emergency management developed in the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s and draws attention to the activity of the State Commission for Emergency Situations (GKChS), a little-known, but influential governmental agency created in July 1989 to respond to the disasters plaguing the country, be they industrial, natural, ecological, or social.

Affiliations: 1: CERCEC EHESS-CNRS


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