Debunked: The myth of the Golden Age of the Baltics in the Soviet Union
During the occupation of the Baltic Countries by the Soviet Union, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians were told that investments in people, social needs and construction were priorities. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this myth was twisted and the “ungrateful Baltic countries” were reminded that the Soviet Union “tore a piece of itself off and gave it to them” and that “Estonians, who produced nothing, were fed by the Soviet Union”, or, as we heard on a talk show on Russian State TV: “We should submit a bill to Latvia for constructing ports, industry & economy” (see the video below for these claims). We also reported last month in the Disinformation Review the claims that “people in the Baltic states were better off in the Soviet Union compared to nowadays” (see the table)
Now there is further solid proof that these claims are not true. Gatis Krumins, a Latvian historian, has discovered detailed accounting reports of the State Bank of the USSR from 1946 to 1991. After studying about 45,000 pages, Krumins found that during the period in question, the main investments in the Baltic countries went into Soviet military spending and that the Baltic countries were rather subsidising other regions of the Soviet Union. In the case of Latvia, Krumins calculated that a total of 24,684 billion rubles was spent from the USSR budget in Latvia, while 40,645 billion went to the state budget of the USSR. The situation was similar in Estonia and Lithuania.
The author concludes: “Spending of all the profit generated in the economy outside the territory of the Baltic countries and the simultaneous disproportionate military expenditures from the revenue generated in the Baltics largely explains the year-to-year increase in the socio-economic underdevelopment in comparison with other developed Western countries; the inhabitants of the Baltic States were able to match these countries in terms of quality of life prior to the Soviet occupation”.