For Russians, August is the cruelest month – Washington Times – August 23, 2012 – Marc Bennetts
The Washington Times explains that August, or “Black August” has somehow been the month when some of the worst disasters in recent Russian memory have occurred:
- in 1991, the attempted coup by communist hard-liners opposed to Gorbachev reforms, leading to the loss of Russia’s superpower status after the fall of the USSR
- 1994’s sudden collapse of a Ponzi investment scheme in 1994 destroying life saving
- 1998 government default on foreign and domestic debt, cutting the value of the ruble by two-thirds
- in 1999, the Second Chechen War, killing 70,000 soldiers, militants and civilians
- in subsequent Augusts, two plane bombings and a suicide attack in Moscow by Chechen rebels
- in 2000, the sinking of the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea, killing all 118 sailors on boar
- in other Augusts, plane crashes, a deadly flood, devastating wildfires, a dam collapse
- in 2008 the five-day Russo-Georgian War
- on Sept. 1, 2004, just missing August by one day, the Beslan school siege, Russia’s worst terrorist atrocity, killing nearly 400 people, including children
Some have speculated whether August vacations impact the snowballing of tragedies:
One of the more popular theories is that, with the country’s leaders on vacation in August, subordinates are less willing to make quick decisions about security issues and vital time is lost while they seek the approval of higher-ups.
For example, President Vladimir Putin was on vacation in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi when the Kursk submarine went down, and the decision to call in foreign specialists was made too late to save the crew.
Thus far, August 2012 has been the first August since the collapse of the Soviet Union where two years in a row have been free of August disaster. On the other hand, July has seen tragedy the last years:
- July, 2012, floods killed more than 170 people in southern Russia
- in July of 2011, almost 100 people were killed iwhen a boat sank in the Volga River
And some are arguing that the Pussy Riot trial is this year’s August disaster.