Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the collapse of the Soviet
Union spelled the end of “historical Russia,” revealing he drove a
taxi to make ends meet following the USSR’s fall.
Putin, a former agent of the Soviet Union’s KGB security services, who
has previously lamented the USSR’s fall, said the disintegration three
decades ago remains a “tragedy” for “most citizens”.
The comments, reported by state-run news agency RIA Novosti Sunday,
were excerpts from an upcoming film by broadcaster Channel One, dubbed
“Russia. Recent History”.
“After all, what is the collapse of the Soviet Union? This is the
collapse of historical Russia under the name of the Soviet Union,” the
Russian leader was cited as saying.
A loyal servant of the Soviet Union, Putin was dismayed when it fell
apart, once calling the collapse “the greatest geopolitical disaster
of the 20th century”.
Putin is sensitive to the perceived expansion of Western military
ambitions into ex-Soviet countries and Russia this week demanded that
NATO formally scrap a 2008 decision to open its door to Georgia and
The end of the Union brought with it a period of intense economic
instability that plunged many into poverty, as newly independent
Russia transitioned from communism to capitalism.
RIA-Novosti, reporting from excerpts of the documentary, said Putin
had revealed that he worked occasionally as a taxi driver to boost his
“Sometimes I had to earn extra money,” Putin said.
“I mean, earn extra money by car, as a private driver. It’s unpleasant
to talk about to be honest but, unfortunately, that was the case.”
Russia was the centre of the Soviet Union that grew to include 15
republics from the Baltics in the West to Central Asia.
In 1991, wracked by economic woes the Soviet Union disintegrated and
Russia became an independent nation.
© Agence France-Presse