One of the most important historical documents of the 20th century appears to have gone missing — offering the alarming possibility that the Soviet Union still exists, if only on paper.
Stanislav Shushkevich, the former leader of Belarus, told The Daily Telegraph that the Belavezha Accords — the agreement which sounded the death knell of the USSR in 1991 – had disappeared from state archives.
The accords were signed by Mr Shushkevich, Russia’s president Boris Yeltsin and Ukraine’s president Leonid Kravchuk in a hunting lodge in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha nature reserve in western Belarus.
It has often been rumoured that the trio were under the influence of alcohol at the time they signed the document which brought down the vast Soviet empire, although Mr Shushkevich has since denied they were drunk.
In a telephone interview, the former Belarus leader said he had requested to see the original document as he prepared to write his memoirs. “The last time I saw it was when I put my signature on it,” said Mr Shushkevich. “I wrote to the foreign ministry where it should be archived but they sent a polite reply saying they don’t have a copy in Belarusian. And then it transpired that they don’t have the original in Russian either. It’s not there.”
The document, signed on December 8, 1991, led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which was finally completed 17 days later with the resignation of President Mikhail Gorbachev. It also created the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose association of former Soviet countries.
Source: The Daily Telegraph