‘Yet another fish tank’: poets and writers review 30 years of independence from the USSR — in 30 words

After The Fall

7 September 2021

In 1991, 12 former Soviet republics followed the example set by Lithuania and Latvia the previous year and seceded from the USSR. As these countries celebrate 30 years of independence in 2021, The Calvert Journal is asking writers and poets to sum up the gains and losses that have marked these three tumultuous decades — in just 30 words.




We fell asleep in one country, woke up in another, as if we migrated without budging. We thought we’d end up in an ocean, but we found ourselves in yet another fish tank.

Aigerim Tazhi, poet, Kazakhstan




As a small nation on the outskirts, Estonia wasn’t ready for cowboy capitalism. Ideals and identity are getting lost and found like waves in a tide. Now they are on the low but hope is still here…

Lauri Sommer, poet, Estonia




A century in thirty years. Two wars. A pandemic. Shortages, surfeit, crises, certainty. A new alphabet. And I’m constantly reminded by the younger generation that Gagarin is no longer our cosmonaut.

Ali S. Novruzov, writer, Azerbaijan




From the fall of the Cyrillic alphabet “wall”, in 1989, between the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova and Romania, to one million Moldovan citizens leaving, with Romanian passports, for EU states — “a beautiful country, shame it’s… depopulated”.

Emilian Galaicu-Păun, poet, Moldova




Wars, occupation, poverty, revolution, elections, building democratic institutions, building a civil society, a constant struggle for freedom — this is a short history of the thirty years of independence of my ancient country, and the way forward to a strong, European state!

Teona Dolenjashvili, writer, Georgia




Nothing was more surprising for me than the proclamation of Ukraine’s independence in 1991: it was a great breakaway from Soviet totalitarianism, as well as the entrance to a new, unexpected world.

Yury Zavadsky, poet, literary agent and publisher, Ukraine

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