If we read the outlets of the modern mainstream media, which are mostly associated with socialist ideas, we can easily understand how much they concentrate on criticising and condemning the West, for imperialism and resource exploitation in Africa, Asia, or South America. But we very rarely see criticism or even mention of former Communist states in the context of resource plundering and exploitation.
There was obvious stealing of national resources from the former, small Soviet states, systematically conducted by the Communist Party from Moscow in the name of equality and fraternity over the course of their Eastern European hegemony.
It is well-known fact that there were 15 States in the former Soviet Republic (of course, it was the unity by consent) and the biggest one, Russia, mobilized all of its power to nationalise everything, including oil, coal and other materials.
As we read in the CIA report of 1952, after World War II, the Soviets dismantled many Hungarian plants and shipped their equipment to the USSR. Hungary was then exploited for “reparations”. They had to import raw materials (for ex: iron ore) from the Ukraine, USSR and after manufacture, send the product to the Soviets. Ships, vessels, motors were a clear example of the obliged reparations.
This fate was not unique, Ukraine, was tyrannised politically, economically, and financially by the Bolsheviks. According to the research of Heinrich Boll Stiftung, during Soviet times, eastern Ukraine was one of the main industrial centres of the Soviet Union, fuelling its rapid and in many ways violent industrialization. For example, coal extraction in the Donbas region peaked in 1976, when extraction slightly exceeded 200 million tons.
Enforced collectivisation had terrible consequences for the Baltics after the Soviet invasion of its three small countries. As the report of CIA clarifies, once well-to-do Baltic peasants quickly became worse off than their Soviet neighbours. In 1951, peasants had delivered two and a half times more wheat than they sold prior to collectivisation. In other words, wheat production has been expanded at the expense of other cultures, which could not have been a good influence.
The Caucasus is probably the clearest instance of Soviet exploitation of their subject nations due to their mineral riches. The Soviet government, which quickly realized the importance of Azerbaijan’s oil riches, started to take active steps to rapidly expand oil extraction. As a result, according to official data, in 1940 Azerbaijan provided 71.5 per cent of the total oil output of the USSR.
In Georgia, a small but diverse country when considering resources, Bolsheviks performed similar work as they did in other republics, such as collectivisation, deprivation of property, terrorizing foreign investors, and nationalisation of all resources. One major example, manganese, located in the mountains of the famous ropeway city Chiatura was very attractive for British and American businesses, as it was very rare element and Chiatura’s deposits were of a high quality. In 1921, as Soviets needed foreign investment, they negotiated with the American businessman and politician, W. Averell Harriman, who invested in return for concessions, but in 1928, Stalin completely pushed him out of the Soviet Union and claimed the entire business. Harriman was the first and the last American investor in Georgia, until the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
This is only a short and limited description of the rampant resource exploitation of the member states during the Soviet Union’s “socialist paradise”. However, it is important for the people to remember, that oppression, plunder, and exploitation was a key characteristic of socialist tyranny even in the second half of the 20th century, when the West was almost done with her plan of decolonization. Without the strong efforts of the Western hawks in the 1980s, this radical leftist state would not have hesitated to continue its oppressive policy toward sovereign states and freedom-seeking people.
And if someone wonders why more than half of Russians have nostalgia for their Soviet Union heydays, even in 2020, the answer is simple – it was bought by the exploitation of workers and resources of the subjugated satellite states and their people.