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Literature / Crisis in the Kremlin

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Crisis in the Kremlin: An Extended Cold War TL is an Alternate History timeline on written by user “Konrad Sartorius.” It depicts a prolonged Cold War following a hardliner coup in the Soviet Union, which leads to the world becoming more dangerous and chaotic in the 1990s.

On November 21, 1989, a group of Soviet hardliners overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev and replace him with a troika consisting of Yegor Ligachev, KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov, and Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov. Also forming part of the hardline regime is the sinister Foreign Minister Alexander Ivanov (a fictional character based on several OTL personalities), who exerts strong influence over the regime. Once in power, the Soviet hardliners brutally crack down on the pro-democracy movements across Eastern Europe, deposing reformist governments and propping up loyal puppet rulers. The hope that freedom would come to the Eastern Bloc is violently stamped out, and the Cold War heats up, with dramatic results.


Tropes in Crisis:

  • The Ace: President George H.W. Bush successfully counters the Soviet threat. In this timeline, he is re-elected in 1992
  • Alternate History: Of course.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: How Soviet officials justify their crimes during their trials.
  • Balkanize Me: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Moldova secede from the Union of Sovereign Republics after the 1995 May Revolution. However, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Central Asian republics – along with Russia – remain in the Union.
    • Romania loses some territory to Hungary following a war between them in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The hardline regime ruling the Soviet Union is quite sinister, as are its puppet regimes in Eastern Europe and other parts of the world. The Americans are technically the good guys, but they resort to some questionable actions, such as covertly selling weapons to the apartheid government in South Africa despite Congress imposing an arms embargo.
  • Civil War: Most of Eastern Europe is engulfed in this after the Soviet coup, until 1995 when the Soviet hardliners are overthrown. Also occurs in South Africa after Nelson Mandela is killed upon his release by an Afrikaner extremist.
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  • Commie Land: The Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc satellites maintain their Marxist-Leninist governments through brutal measures. Until they’re eventually overthrown following the Soviet Revolution of 1995.
  • The Coup: Mikhail Gorbachev is overthrown by hardliners in the Kremlin. Afterward the reformist governments in East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary also find themselves deposed, with hardliners – mainly from the intelligence services – coming to power.
    • Also, South African President F. W. de Klerk is overthrown by the military in 1992 when it appeared he was losing control over the country.
  • Crapsack World: The Cold War takes a turn for a worse. The Soviet Union is ruled by hardliners and its economic stagnation continues, with chronic shortages of food and basic goods. Eastern Europe becomes a massive killing field as the Soviets brutally crack down on the democracy movements and the subsequent guerrilla movements that try to liberate their countries from Soviet rule. Yugoslavia still collapses as in OTL, and the Soviets openly support the Serbian regime. The Korean Peninsula is engulfed in chaos as the Second Korean War breaks out. South Africa collapses into civil war; the white-minority government, in its death throes, launches nukes at rebel-held cities and the capitals of neighboring Angola, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
    • There is however a reason to be hopeful: the Soviet Revolution of May 1995 overthrows the hardline regime in Moscow, leading to the fall of the Eastern Bloc, the USSR’s transformation into a democratic federation, and the end of the Cold War.
  • Deadly Gas: The North Koreans attack Seoul, the South Korean capital, with nerve gas during the Second Korean War. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are killed.
  • Dirty Communists: The hardline rulers of the Soviet Union and its satellite states are not pleasant folks. They’re willing to kill thousands and enact totalitarian measures just to remain in power and to prevent the “fascist counterrevolutionaries” from taking over.
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  • Democracy Is Bad: The story of the successor state to the Soviet Union. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the real-life ultranationalist, is nearly elected President of the Union of Sovereign Republics. Fortuntaely, he's defeated by Yegor Gaidar.
  • Driven to Suicide: Happens to Erich Ludendorff, an East German border guard. He escapes to West Germany with his girlfriend, only to have his girlfriend – a covert Stasi agent – drug him and take him back to East Germany. Erich gets tortured and interrogated by the Stasi to give up the names of his contacts in the West. He eventually commits suicide by slashing his wrists with a piece of a broken dinner plate.
    • Margot Honecker, who succeeds her husband as the ruler of East Germany, shoots herself in the head right when revolutionary soldiers burst into her office to arrest her, avoiding a potentially cruel fate at their hands.
  • Evil Cripple: Alexander Ivanov, the Soviet foreign minister and hardline Marxist-Leninist.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Gulin Nikitovich, the executive officer on the Soviet Typhoon-class submarine Arkangelsk, refuses to go along with his captain’s order to launch the sub’s nuclear missiles at the United States. He swallows his missile key, resulting in his captain shooting him dead, then cutting open his throat to retrieve the bloody key. Nikitovich’s sacrifice inadvertently buys time for an American destroyer to sink the Arkangelsk before it can launch its missiles, thus averting a nuclear war.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Erich Ludendorff and his girlfriend escape to West Germany, where he begins to speak out against the atrocities in East Germany. Then his girlfriend betrays him to the Stasi, who take him back to his home country and torture him for information.
    • The May Revolution of 1995. The Soviet government is overthrown and replaced with one led by liberal reformer Yegor Gaidor, who proceeds to transform the USSR into the Union of Sovereign Republics (USR) and institute democracy and economic reforms. This leads to the fall of the Soviet-backed regimes in Eastern Europe and the seeming end of the Cold War.
      • However there are unfortunate consequences as well. Economic “shock therapy” causes massive poverty and turmoil in the USR and its former Eastern European satellites. Republics of the USR such as the Baltic and Caucasus states secede following independence referendums, threatening to tear the USR apart. Ultranationalists led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky are on the rise in response to the post-revolution turmoil.
  • Kill 'Em All: Shown when Soviet troops massacre entire villages in Poland as reprisals for anti-Communist guerrilla attacks
    • During the Second Korean War, the North Korean Army unleashes chemical weapons on Seoul, killing thousands of people
  • Lonely at the Top: Best describes George Bush
  • Moral Event Horizon: The South African government crosses the line when, facing defeat in a civil war, they unleash nuclear weapons against their enemies.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: The fate of a number of important people, including Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Helmut Kohl.
  • Nuke 'em: Facing defeat at the hands of ANC-led rebels, the South African government nukes the rebel-held Soweto Township, then launches its own “Samson Option” by deploying nuclear weapons against the capitals of Angola, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, whose leftist governments were supporting the South African rebels.
    • During the Soviet Revolution, Ivanov suggests using nukes to create a radioactive barrier in Eastern Europe that will prevent the Western nations from trying to invade the Soviet Union. The rest of the Politburo rejects his insane idea.
    • Captain Vladimir Bolshakov of the Arkhangelsk, a rogue Typhoon-class ballistic missile submarine, tries to launch his nukes at the United States in order to eliminate the Soviet Union’s greatest enemy. He tries to force the USR government to join in the attack, but they help the Americans locate the rogue sub and sink it.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Vice President Dan Quayle is just as prone to making gaffes as in OTL. For example, he erroneously labels the Union of Sovereign Republics (the USSR's successor state) as the “Union of Serbian Republics,” prompting much ridicule.
  • Reds with Rockets: The Soviet Armed Forces see plenty of action trying to suppress the guerrilla armies in Eastern Europe.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: By 1995 the situation in the Soviet Union is so bad that an all-out revolution is sparked by a bread shortage.
    • With the 1989 coup in the Soviet Union, the pro-democracy movements in Eastern Europe are brutally suppressed. As such, guerrilla wars break out across the Eastern Bloc, with Soviet troops supplementing local regimes.
  • Scandalgate: Happens when the Washington Post proves a group of CIA agents sold arms to South Africa, by then a rogue state, via Israel.
  • Shout-Out: The title of the timeline is derived from the 1991 strategy video game Crisis in the Kremlin, which puts the player in control of the Soviet Union. Yegor Ligachev, the Soviet hardliner who becomes the General Secretary in the timeline, is one of the playable leaders in the game.
    • Alexander Ivanov is partially inspired by the title character from Dr. Strangelove. He even comes up with a plan to relocate the Soviet population to Siberian mine shafts so they can build a socialist utopia that will eventually take back control of the USSR from the democratic forces that overthrow the government.
  • Taking You with Me: The story of the apartheid regime in South Africa, who use nuclear weapons before falling to rebel forces.
  • Tragic Villain: Alexander Ivanov. He may be a sociopathic, hardline Communist bastard, but his childhood was rather depressing. His father starved to death during the Holodomor so that his family would have enough food to eat. During World War II the Nazis massacred Ivanov’s village; his mother was shot in the face and killed, and his sister was brutally raped and murdered by enemy soldiers. These experiences filled Ivanov with a desire to never let the Soviet Union suffer such tragic disasters ever again. When the Soviet Revolution of 1995 overthrows the government, Ivanov reluctantly goes into exile in Cuba, having lost his Motherland.
  • War Is Hell: The author does not shy away from depicting the brutality of the various conflicts that erupt around the world, from the guerrilla wars in Eastern Europe, to the South African Civil War, to the Second Korean War.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The story of Soviet regime.
  • Wham Episode: Several:
    • Erich Ludendorff’s betrayal by his Stasi girlfriend and his subsequent return to East Germany to be tortured, as well as his eventual suicide.
    • The assassinations of Helmut Kohl and Nelson Mandela.
    • The North Korean nerve gas attack on Seoul during the Second Korean War.
    • The South African government launching a nuclear attack on its enemies during its death throes.
    • The May Revolution of 1995 which results in the overthrow of the Soviet government, the establishment of the Union of Sovereign Republics, and the freeing of Eastern Europe from Soviet tyranny.
    • The flashback to Ivanov’s tragic childhood.
    • The captain of the Soviet submarine Arkangelsk attempting to launch his nukes at the United States.
    • The Washington Post publishing a story about the U.S. government illegally selling weapons to South Africa’s apartheid government.

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