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The Baltic States and the End of the Cold War


Edited By Kaarel Piirimäe and Olaf Mertelsmann

This book examines the role of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the downfall of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War. It includes groundbreaking, archives-based research on important facets of the Soviet collapse like, for example, politics of history, Soviet Atheism, economic reforms, the military and the use of force. The authors place the Baltic struggle for independence in the context of international politics, analyzing interlinkages with the Warsaw Pact countries, the activities of the Baltic diaspora, small-state diplomacy and strategic and security-related questions from the end of the Cold War and into the 1990s.

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An Economic Innovation as an Icebreaker: The Contractual Work Experiment in Soviet Estonia in 1985 (Juhan Saharov)


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Juhan Saharov

An Economic Innovation as an Icebreaker: The Contractual Work Experiment in Soviet Estonia in 1985

Abstract: It is widely acknowledged that the economic reforms during the perestroika period (being applied mostly in 1987–1989) were the precondition for serious changes in the Soviet Union’s economy as well as the precondition for changing the whole political regime. The literature analyzing this period and “Gorbachev’s reforms” is abundant. However, the period before perestroika has been usually left out from the debate. This approach neglects the previous ideas, proposals, and experiments which could be seen as a part of the roots for the “perestroika reforms.” One such case was the preparation of the experiment of the “contractual work” in customer services in 1979–1984 and the official experiment itself, which started in 1985 in Soviet Estonia. The “second form of contractual work” as a legal form of private entrepreneurship within the enterprises was a departure from the command economy, and it acted as an icebreaker for establishing cooperatives later in 1987, paving the way for more liberal approaches in the service sector. In addition to that, there was also a transnational aspect involved in terms of preparing the experiment. As I will bring out, there were direct links between Hungarian and Estonian economists and administrative institutions of the service sector which helped to work out the contractual work experiment in Soviet Estonia. Moreover, I argue that we can also view this as a part...

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