Romanov Ascendant: What if the Soviet Union survived?

Look like Africa will be the new focus of the Cold War. I wonder if this will eventually lead to more US involvement in Somalia to prop up a kind of pro western government in the horn of Africa to counter the Soviet presence in Ethiopia and South Yemen. As well as in Rwanda for a humanitarian mission to stop a genocide but also to get a valuable ally in the heart of Africa that can also give American forces the ability to influence events in neighbouring and resource rich Zaire.
 
Sorry again about the slow updates guys

I wanted to note, the entire south africa angle may seem like an odd divergence, but after ruminating, it actually kind of makes sense. Even in our timeline, hardline South Africans holding out against liberalization was possible, without the "3rd wave of liberalization", I think that culturally the elites and nationalists would have felt more secure. Especially after watching the Soviet Union systemically back off, while also repressing masses of people, often violently and completely getting away with it. So in our chain of events, the harder right nationalists prevent the national party from giving off power, murdering Nelson Mandela and inevitably leading to a collapse in the country. Thematically and ironically, it seems like we're getting something like the Yugoslavia of this TL.

Please keep suggestions and ideas coming, on culture, on what is going on in the world, I guarantee I will get to them. To that effect I'm going to make a poll to see what direction the next major update should be to, I am also editing and redoing some of the prior events.

 
Chapter Three: The First Cracks
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Bold Meetings
Baku, Azerbaijan SSR.
My parents were sitting on their couch, both my mother and father were drunk, watching television in their living room. The mindless talk show comedy, I thought was trash. I had become cynical since my time as a conscript in Afghanistan. It had been about a year since my term ended and I got back home, early on it was hard, waking up in a sweat, having dreamt about the terrifying occurrences. I just drove a supply ural, but we came under fire, and had to return it many times. It used to be a lot more dangerous of course, but right as the tour was ending things picked up again. A round penetrated the roof, sending sparks and metal fragments into the cabin. I drove into the ditch and crouched under the seat, grabbed my 74U and looked up, if my head was 2cm left, I would have been a dead man.

When I got back to base, we all laughed about it. Even the infantry boys gave me credit, my Lieutenant even congratulated me on my nerve, wrote me a commendation. That night we got drunk, talked about how easy it was going to be to get laid with this story. But that was a long time ago, after a few months at home something didn't sit right with me. My life had been almost ended, and for what? For what? My dad used to be religious, now he's just drunk. My grandfather fought to defend his home and his family. But there I was, nearly have lost my life for nothing. There had to be a reason. I used to have a drink when I'd have a particularly sleepless night, but I stopped completely. Life in the city was becoming stricter, yet my younger brother Emin was 19, adrift, all he'd do was smoke hash, drink and chase girls, he managed to get himself a job as a maintenance man for the apartment building. I stopped drinking completely half a year ago, I contemplated. The state offered me a job and an apartment, I refused, I said I intended to enroll in education to get them off my back. A friend I used to know from school managed to get me a Quran, technically they weren't illegal, but I guess the state presses only had enough for sanctioned houses of worship, ha. Most of those places were wired, surveilled and full of informers. I could see how fake they were the first few times I went to them. I read the Quran every day. It started to make sense to me, senselessness was replaced by feeling, emptiness with passion. This soulless state was a monument to everything evil in the world, it took nations, their identities and destroyed them, it took people's faith and reduced them to materialist animals.

That friend I mentioned introduced me to a group of friends, a few of them veterans like me, others just pissed off. Some of them had parents, relatives that had been 'dealt' with, I saw what happened to people who were 'dealt' with in Afghanistan. Our nation, Azerbaijan had a long history that was denied to me, what did they tell us of it in school but lies? Malahat Ruslan was one of the leaders of this group. At first we would share literature, discuss, look after each other, there was a true friendship. I saw in Malahat what I wish I had in my father, he honestly cared for me. We had to change locations every time we met, we had a friend in the party who was willing to help us out for the extra favors we could give her, she had no idea what we were up to.

Sitting in the musty management office of a warehouse, some of us sitting on chairs, others on desks. We had all greeted each other, we all had prayed together. Usually Malahat would address the entire room, but tonight he kept it short. He said as long as we kept the faith alive in our hearts, as long as we submit to the will of Allah, we would be safe and our lives good. His address was rather short, and he pulled me to the side, I was anxious, I was never shown attention like this from him before, I didn't want to fail him, I didn't want to look like an idiot.

"Anyar, have you ever thought about where this will end?"
"Where what will end?"
"The communist state, the Soviet Union"

We both looked at each other, to discuss these ideas so freely, knowing and trusting in each others hearts, with words that were as good as a ticket to Siberia.

"I don't know, I mean my dad used to say that it was going to rot away. He used to say that Allah would never permit so many of the faithful to suffer such an existence as this, because this abomination was dragging the faithful to hell. He stopped talking like that years ago. Now he says that it isn't so bad, that things are getting better."

Malahat put his hand on my shoulder "Whatever your father is or says reflects nothing on you, I know you are here because you understand the same thing I do. That Allah knows that we, Azeris, and any Muslim have allowed this fate to befall us, we consented when we could have resisted. Instead we gave up our responsibilities because it was easy, we enjoyed the food they offered, the drinks, the cars, and the other trinkets. One only has to look at the history of our faith to know that Allah acts through the actions of the faithful, especially Martyrs. That it is inevitable that if we fight we will win."

I looked at him, I could understand what he was saying but it sounded insane "Fight? Fight them with what, with who?"

"You have no idea how strong this movement is growing, do you think it's just us? We have the faithful of the world on our side. There are groups like this all through Baku, all through Azerbaijan, Chechnya, and in Central Asia. I want to show you something, I know you fought in Afghanistan, I know you were close to many Russians. I understand where you're coming from, I used to be friends with many of them too."

He passed me a small, black and white pamphlet kind of book. It was entitled 'The Crimes of Andropov in Afghanistan', it was only twenty pages, he waited for me to read it. He never showed me this much attention, he brushed off other people to converse with me. When I finished I asked him where he got this, he said that he couldn't talk about it right now. I asked him if it was true, but I knew it was true. When I was conscripted, I recieved training on Chemical, Biological and Nuclear warfare, in case of the Americans of course. But it started to make sense, how Andropov made himself the triumphant hero all the posters, literature and television claims him to be. Malahat said to me "You cannot be held responsible for fighting for evil, if you didn't know it, but you are responsible to fight it, now that you do".


The 2nd Main Directorate, that is, the portion of the KGB concerned with counter intelligence knew that there were increased activities on smuggling routes into the central Asian republics, both from their sources in the United States and reports from the border guards. In some cases, these smugglers would die or be killed, instead of allowing themselves to be arrested, which was extremely unusual. Typically heroin smugglers would at least try to get a pass by ratting on their partners, hash smugglers would usually be ignored for bribes, but they were always searched. What was clear that there was a large division within the CIA devoted towards creating dissent in the Soviet Union. This department preceded the new president and had been expanded before the new one. The Foreign ministry believed that Perot represents a real chance at another detente, but regardless, for now his dogs were still off their leash.

By early 1993, the 2nd Main Directorate had compiled a report, with an almost alarmist title 'Systemic Penetration of Islamist Political Organizations' 136 pages long, that detailed that there was a growing network of Islamist groups being fed a constant stream of money, literature and foreign support. These cells would make use of corrupting low authorities, complicity in regional KGB departments and the 'unwillingness to disturb the uneasy peace'. One of the authors of this report had recently transferred from the 1st Main Directorate, Colonel Vladimir Putin. The KGB produced a massive amount of information, in fact it was one of the most efficient information gathering organizations in the world. With it's increasing computerization, this was entering an entirely new level. But the fact is that most of this information would never be read, yet millions were being spent on manhours for workers in Moscow to digitize all of the reports, newspapers, and information that had been collected. However, when a report was addressed to the Politburo, it still often made its way there, but was often filtered by secretaries or assistants. This report was signed up by the director and chairman of the KGB Central Directorate, Boris Pugo.

General Secretary Romanov on a personal scale, was diligent. He would spent three or four days of the week intensely working, while spending the rest at an easier pace. He had begun to devote a lot of his energy to several secret military programs, but now had that headache to deal with in South Africa. But even then would still find time to administrate even local level matters on an almost arbitrary level, especially when drinking. He had grown accustomed to the almost total authority he had, he wasn't decadently corrupt. He had separated from his wife, but only lived in an villa and an apartment that could be expected of a statesman of his stature. He had a secret hobby, he really enjoyed the game tetris, something he hid from everyone other than his second mistress, but only because she played it with him. On March 20th 1993, it was a Saturday. It was 4:38PM and he had finally finished authorizations and approximations paperwork and yet another tedious conversation with the foreign minister. It was time for some stolichnaya. But a report caught his eye, maybe it was just because the word penetration was in bold, maybe it was a stroke of luck, but the leader of the Socialist world decided to look at this report. As he continued reading the summaries, the evidence sections, the well done investigative work. He was interested, he poured himself another drink and immediately called for meeting with Pugo, about what was to be done about this.
 
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Chapter Three: The First Cracks
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Operation Chesma:
Once the scale of the subversive networks had become clear, through the capturing and systemic arrest and torture of the individual members of a few cells present in Almaty in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. It was realized that not only were religious extremist groups forming, but they were forming at the same time, and even colluding with a different network of nationalist and often secular groups. Financed lavishly by western intelligence agencies for what really was paltry sums for a western establishment used to throwing billions at the military industrial complex. The KGB 2nd Main Directorate was beginning to get a true idea of the true scale of this network of opposition. While in reality, at least half of these groups were simply bible study groups, discussion groups and were for the most part moderate, in fact really just the symptom of a society that was increasingly educated, well off and politically consciousness.

Yet, the inherent paranoia and foreign support that had become a composite layer in the existence of this opposition was taken as a personal affront by Romanov. By 3:48 AM, Monday, March 22nd, many empty bottles dotted the conference table in the middle of the meeting room in the Kremlin. Both Lugo and Romanov had agreed that this sedition had to be punished, they formulated and decided what this was and what had to be done to deal with it. Both men were visibly drunk, but nothing stirs the passions like the notion of treason and betrayal. Lugo himself was a Latvian, and felt like he had something to prove when it came to his commitment to the Union and to Marxist Leninism; he never had such a personal moment with the General Secretary. He wasn't being a sycophant, but honestly agreed with everything he was saying, it sounded so reasonable. They also agreed that a few troublesome figures, who haven't been directly linked to the networks, should also be arrested, because as the saying goes, 'an old friend is better than two new'.

They finally made it to bed by around 4:30 AM, but the orders were already sent out to be formulated into operations by the respective authorities. Directorate "SCh", and the Spetsnaz Alfa Group, as well as OMON, Select Soviet Army Units and Military Police were to be involved, as well as general KGB and Militisa members. The targets were to be select cities in the RSFSR, Dagestan, Chechnya, Kazakhstan, the Central Asia Republics, the Baltic Republics, Moldavia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. For the first week, surveillance and the investigative power of the KGB was to be used to map out and mark out individuals for arrest, and cells for elimination. Once the first phase was finished, the second would begin, with the aforementioned security forces, arresting, detaining, extracting information and dismantling any and all subversive networks and organizations. The highest priority was to get arrest those who had worked with foreign intelligence agents, to arrest those agents and to show the west that there was not weakness for them to exploit, that in the world's foremost workers state, false consciousness would never be allowed to be spread, and that the west's dealership of the opiate of the masses wouldn't be tolerated in the motherland.
 
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Chapter Three: The First Cracks
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Kings Gambit:
In the game of chess, the first opening moves among the opponents have the tendency to shape the entire game. An entire score of choregraphed movements, called openings and their responses, it's almost a discipline among those enthusiasts of the game. It's considered a rare move among the modern grandmasters to use the King's Gambit; it can go wrong very quickly if not well managed, or if done recklessly by someone who believes they possess more skill or knowledge of the game than they actually have. If done right, or against an untalented or skilled opponent, it can lead to an intrepid offensive or an early victory for its user. Grigory Romanov was not an insane drunk, but he was a man, capable of excesses in his vices, his pride especially, it's a common theme in history of what starts to happen when one actually starts to believe in the personality cult and propaganda surrounding oneself. Romanov was not there yet, completely, but those influences were beginning to shape his actions. Despite his increasing hubris, its important to keep in mind there was no indication at the time of his succession that the Soviet Union was going to collapse as in our OTL, he had no notion that his leadership had caused this much of a difference, yet he still was clearly a good leader, he achieved results, forcing Yugoslavia into the Warsaw Pact, was a historical victory. Managing to crush the first wave of liberal revolutionary opposition in the 80's was too. Of course, he personally didn't do these things, rather his policy decisions and directions to institutions made up of hundreds of thousands of individuals. He represented something, the will of a minority of the population, but a strong political force, the hardline Marxist Leninist element of the CPSU. Romanov was a veteran of the second world war, he personally felt war, the presence of totalitarianism and it's subsequent upheaval and his own personal relief at the hands of Khrushchev. He had no desire to be a tyrant, he didn't personally enjoy killing, nor did he disregard it completely, but total power and the feeling of winning victories have the tendency to create the kind of mindset, where one's great, glorious and perhaps worthwhile objectives are worth the cost, any cost. He wanted to put the Soviet flag on the Moon, he wanted to outcompete the Americans and demonstrate to the world that there was in fact an alternative to capitalism. Yet these idiots and traitors, wanted to sabotage these goals.

On that day, we experienced history at it's personal. While of course it was inevitable that these subversive networks would be noticed, and something would have to be done about them, the way in which it happened dictated the way in which it will occur, the haste. Ideally a secretary would have read this, created recommendations or a more measured reasonable response to curb the extremists. Instead, the most powerful man in the Soviet Union read a report about how people, were colluding with foreign enemies, enemies who he knew conspired to not only destroy their country, but had the most destructive force in the world constantly aimed at them. He had fought for his country, and to in his mind traitors who either knew nothing of the struggles and sacrifices it took to fight for it, or even to rebuild it, or did and still chose betrayal (even worse) incensed him. In a perverse way, it interested him, a challenge. But unfortunately as will see, Romanov did in fact allow his vices to corrupt his judgement, and like two old friends having a drink, playing chess, he thinking of himself as a great man, and genius, made a move in which may prove to be reckless.

Central Intelligence Agency, Soviet Division - Langley, Virginia
Thomas Twetten looked spiffy in his fine suit, he was a confident man. He knew that his career prospects didn't look so good with the new president, but he had a great tenure with the last and looked forward to his retirement. But he remembered the frustration during the height of the eighties, having to watch the communists act with impunity, to get away with using heinous weapons and then costing American lives in the Gulf War. He wanted the one last move of his career to be a big one. He addressed the conference room of department heads, annalists and many of the best the CIA had to offer.

"We have it on good authority that they're going to act soon, both sources three and eight in the KGB have confirmed that there is talk of a massive operation, source two, our highest asset, has said he hasn't been told anything. Our analysts think this is major, clearly they're getting something ready but they haven't told middle management about it. Now some of our resources have been poached for South Africa, but I don't need to tell anyone in this room that we are still operationally capable. We also have it on good authority that there have been arrests, snatch and grabs and disappearances in Kazakhstan. We knew Kazakhstan was the weakest link, and by far the most porous, it offered us a tripwire. Operation Tsar's Folly has been authorized, the president has been hesitant, but we managed to present this in the most delicate way, that regardless of whatever foreign policy he wishes to take, we have to remove any and all American assets, and of course 'destroy the evidence'; to do this we will have to alert the networks and organizations of what is coming, allowing them to put their own contingencies into place."


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King's Gambit Accepted:
Romanov usually choose to recover from his hangovers in his personal sauna, or some of the hot bathes he had at his villa. The latter he only had installed on the recommendation by his physician, it was therapeutic, for stress of course. Although he was stressed, he started to think of some of the lessons his predecessor had taught him, not to be hasty, that the KGB could be relied on but there were always going the possibility of moles. But as these thoughts swam around his head, he disregarded the anxieties. What could these subversives even hope to do against him, against the might of the state? He did desire détente with the US, what right did they have to dispute him dealing with literal bought off criminals and bandits in his own country. He wanted this done before the next May victory parade.

The most radical of the networks, some in very remote locations and others in urban centers were equipped by the CIA with satellite phones. The Soviets could pick up these signals sometimes but assumed they were part of some kind of electronic intelligence gathering or interference and usually disregarded their faint and short distortions. The Americans alerted the opposition that the hammer was coming down, that they needed to 'destroy their evidence'. The radical groups had no intentions of destroying any evidence, but they did do the service of sending the word to the moderate or nationalist groups, to ready rallies and protests as soon as possible.

On March 29th, at 4 AM, after intensive surveillance efforts backed up by electronic information gathering, CCTV and the use of informers. The KGB and OMON did most of the work and many of the arrests proceeded without any significant incident in Russia and the Baltic States. The KGB was successful in hounding out a few of the radical but more of the moderate groups, the latter had taken less effort to hide themselves, many believing that they hadn't even committed a crime, some even considered themselves communists, but only very few were members of the party.

In Chechnya, at approximately 4:35 AM, an attempt to raid an apartment building resulted in an immediate firefight. Two KGB agents and one OMON soldier was killed. Reinforcements were immediately called in, but the brazen attack on the government forces and the use of both HE and smoke grenades allowed them to escape. As the hour progressed, violence spread in Chechnya as the scene was repeated. In cases where the rebels were sure to be overwhelmed, they surrendered with live grenades or explosives, taking as many soviet lives as possible. This started occuring in Azerbaijan, in Southern Kazakhstan and in the Central Asian Republics, especially those bordering Afghanistan. The Army was specifically prepared for the latter possibility and immediately began mobilizing. As a convoy moved towards Grozny, it came under fire, and the BMP-2D heading towards it had to pour rounds at the forested heights from which the fire was coming from, suddenly an RPG was fired from 300 meters and missed. The BMP crew were Afghanistan veterans, they popped smoke and directed the soft vehicles to hide behind trees, they opened their hatches and called for reinforcements. More RPG volleys, and 30mm rounds were exchanged for a while until the rebels retreated and more BMPs and BTRs of the 42nd Guards Motor Rifle Division arrived. The KGB proceeded with their operations within the city, but mostly found deserted warehouses or apartments. They also found raided armories, police stations, suicidal fanatics and more easily arrested moderates. By the end of the day, the Soviet air force was running reconnaissance flights over the Caucasus.

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In Azerbaijan the first noted act of terrorism occurred, in the afternoon, while the raids were happening. The target specifically chosen to cause as much economic damage as possible. A lada, laden with hundreds of pounds of plastic explosive, was driven into an oil refinery, and detonated. The explosion devastated the area around it killing a few civilians, but the explosion could be seen from Baku. The raids were halted as confusion turned to frenzy, the local authorities declared a state of emergency. The second act of that day would occur at 7 PM, a man dressed in soviet army clothing, acting as if he was on official business entered the lobby of the local communist party headquarters in Baku, and pushed a button. The suicide bomb would blast the first two levels of the concrete building, killing forty five people, many coordinating the response to the refinery bombing.
 
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How is Islamic Fundamentalism even surviving in the Soviet Union as an ideology, when State Atheism is enforced and a purely hard science curriculum is learned at school?

The Central Asian Republics have always been loyal since the time of Empire, the Caucasus where majority of the dissent was killed by the Tsars and Stalin in the years past.

The Soviet collapse was an implosion precisely because separatism was never a plausible goal for the US.
 
Justinian, Will Soviet Union stay up well into 2016 and beyond?
I can't say for sure, my overall feeling is that it could, but I'm trying to develop this as organically as possible, event by event. As if you were living through events in this time.

How is Islamic Fundamentalism even surviving in the Soviet Union as an ideology, when State Atheism is enforced and a purely hard science curriculum is learned at school?

The Central Asian Republics have always been loyal since the time of Empire, the Caucasus where majority of the dissent was killed by the Tsars and Stalin in the years past.

The Soviet collapse was an implosion precisely because separatism was never a plausible goal for the US.
Don't get me wrong, a great many of people were influenced by the hardline the state took on Atheism, especially the urban and education sectors of the population, or those who actually joined the party. But by the 70s a lot of the regulations were relaxed and in an large muslim cities mosques were in fact sanctioned. State Atheism was more of a policy that it pushed on the population, but thousands of churches did in fact operate. The last major anti religious push came down from Khrushchev, but after that there was an uneasy coexistence between the religious and the government.

The Soviet Union in this timeline continued it's policy of political persecution of dissidents, while the autonomies of the constituent states of the Soviet Union were generally curtailed. The religious element, combined with the suppressed nationalist, creating a breeding ground for radicalization promoted by foreign intelligence services. There were always small nationalist or religious groups operating under the radar, but continual oppression created a situation where these groups were one of the only ways to dissent from the government. The radicals and terrorists are a relatively small minority, but are completely devoted to their cause. We won't see the same ethnic struggles or genocides like how things happened in real life, precisely because of what you said, that the majority of people in the central Asian republics and Caucasus will remain loyal. But even if 10 percent don't, and 1 percent of those are willing to be violent, it's going to cause a problem.
 
No support by local populations means no hiding from authorities nor hiding in society.

The Islamic Fundamentalists would probably view the Americans as a bigger enemy due to the middle eastern invasion and their support of Israel. Those same peoples would never take American money (how do they even get the money, where do they spend USD?) or arms to wreak havoc in Central Asia or Caucasus, gaining the ire of locals.

They would most likely mirror US hate groups like the KKK, Far right militias(less obviously armed) rather than full blown insurgencies. The state control of economy and surveillance state would make a massive detriment to any insurgency especially in featureless terrain of Central Asia or the heavily militarized Caucasus.

You can make them primarily comprised of foreign fighters from Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, Xinjiang(?).
 
No support by local populations means no hiding from authorities nor hiding in society.

The Islamic Fundamentalists would probably view the Americans as a bigger enemy due to the middle eastern invasion and their support of Israel. Those same peoples would never take American money (how do they even get the money, where do they spend USD?) or arms to wreak havoc in Central Asia or Caucasus, gaining the ire of locals.

They would most likely mirror US hate groups like the KKK, Far right militias(less obviously armed) rather than full blown insurgencies. The state control of economy and surveillance state would make a massive detriment to any insurgency especially in featureless terrain of Central Asia or the heavily militarized Caucasus.

You can make them primarily comprised of foreign fighters from Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, Xinjiang(?).
Islamic fundamentalists at the time also saw the Soviet Union as an enemy, many as the biggest most assessible one for their invasion of Afghanistan and support of nationalist arab regimes. But that not withstanding, you're right that they're not going to get much support from the local population from cooperation, but in areas where separatism is the strongest, they'd always find someone either willing to help or someone they could intimidate. Latent nationalism was always strong in some of these regions, I'd look at what happened in Sumgait and Armenia/Azerbaijan as a whole, how fast it happened.

But again they're not full rebel movements, more like small groups of terrorists, operating in the countryside. Central Asia, other than the mountains bordering Afghanistan is easily controllable, I'll give you that, but the Caucasus could easily be a sore spot geographically. But I definitely agree, many of these terrorists would be foreign fighters, like the CIA trained Afghani commando groups or even a few arabs in the mix, but there would have to be a homegrown element.

just one question is the soviet union to Survive or Collapse like in the OT
Well I don't want to reveal the ending, isn't that half the fun?
 
One thing to keep in mind guys is that at this isn't a truly existential threat for the Soviets, the central committee and the politburo have total control of the country, the armed forces, of the security forces, KGB, police and regional governments. During the actual collapse, in many cases Gorbachev's democratizations led to situations where independence could actually be formalized or legalized through the autonomies that he granted the various republics. That combined with his lessening of press restrictions resulting in spreading of nationalism, which was latent but suppressed.

The Soviet Army is generally happy with their larger pensions, higher paycheques, things to actually buy with said paycheques, newer and better weapons and the guarantee of land or work after service, which was a program used to try and volunteerize the forces used to police Afghanistan and Yugoslavia; as well as to make more efficient use of empty land for agriculture.

This is just the beginning of an attempt by the US security services, the cumulation of late 80's/early 90's strategic thinking, to encourage terrorism that would disturb the political legitimacy of Andropov hoping to either weaken his position domestically or to his overthrow. The new president, Ross Perot wouldn't support this, and would be frankly disgusted with the idea of spreading terrorism to the Soviet Union and creating a situation where civilians would be deliberately killed, but the CIA, MI6 and ISI and various others pushed this approach during the late 80's and early 90s. We will see if they actually succeed in any serious manner in subsequent updates.
 
Chapter Three: The First Cracks
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Deliberations:
The unmistakable sound of a bottle shattering against the wall, coming from inside Romanov's office, was more than enough to scare his assistants and subordinates. The entire politburo was to be called for an emergency session to the Kremlin. Despite his successful consolidation of power, he wasn't invincible and still had to answer to the central committee. They entered the ornate meeting room at 8 PM that same day. Romanov had felt his nerves but also felt passion to deal with this, his suit looked impeccable, his tie was tight, and demeanor reminiscent of his time in the red army. Zakhar Morozov and Gennady Zyuganov were recently elevated to the Politburo on the initiative of filling the seat of Viktor Grishin, who had died in 1992. Alexander Dzasokhov and Galina Semenova were recently elevated in 1990, the former more of a moderate and increasingly becoming a foil to Andropov without overstepping himself. When he spoke, it was careful and determined. Galina was also a moderate, but wasn't willing to go against the party line in threat to her own position. The rest of the Politburo included a few other members, including Moldavia's Petru Lucinschi, Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbayev and other regionalists. The vast majority were hardliners like Gennady Yanayev, who was considered a major figure among the hardliners and a supporter of Andropov. Notedly, two other women were included, bringing the total to three, and the most ever in the Politburo.

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They were all given summarized (and slightly cleaned up) versions of the report that had landed on Romanov's desk. They had questions, first Dzasokhov questioned how the Americans were allowed to get into the country in the first place, which was bold attempt to chip away at Romanov's dominance of the room. Romanov countered "Just like how they gained intelligence assets in the past, by making use of the vast sums of money they have stolen from their workers, to corrupt and chip away at criminals and traitors. This was nothing but the disgusting escalation of their common practices, they have thrown down the gauntlet and this direct attack on our homeland will be answered." This answer satisfied the Room and put Dzasokhov in his place, at least for now. Romanov continued "I honestly feel a little pity for the useful idiots and fools that they have managed to recruit, victims of circumstance and the indulgence of their false consciousness." Yanayev noded at him as he spoke. "As soon as our security service became aware of the threat, I ordered the immediate action, but this episode has shown us that reorganization and reinvigoration is necessary, even in the KGB. I've put up for promotion, the promising officer, one of the main authors of the report, Colonel Vladimir Putin to Major General, who will look to a reform and reorganization of the 2nd Main Directorate. Now please proceed if you have any more questions." They didn't for him, but instead focused their rigor on the Politburo's Azerbaijani member, Ayaz Mutallibov, who sat very far away from the Armenian Vladimir Movsisyan. They asked questions like as to how far the conspiracy ran, what he intended to do, and if he intended to resign. Romanov, receiving a nod from Yanayev, spoke in his defence. It wouldn't hurt to keep the Azeri in their pocket.

Zakhar Morozov was by far the youngest member, other than the women (one 38 and the other 36), having been born in 1954. Being 40, he was a man at least in our standards, but in a room of old men arguing, and he was afraid to speak, he was sat next to Yanayev. The two women being so young, spoke a lot, but mostly sophistries to Romanov or on women's initiatives. The room quieted down as he stood up to speak "I know I have little political experience comrades, as I spent my life primarily studying technology and computers, of which contributed to our development of socialism in this country." Many of the older members didn't understand computers, but respected this contribution and saluted him with some applause via hitting the table. "But what I wanted to say is that having been outside of politics for most of my life, I have a great respect for Romanov and I believe he will handle this crisis with his usual skill and deft hand." He recieved applause from the hardliners and a pat on the back from Yanayev. Gennady Yanayev stood up "The question is comrade General Secretary, is our approach to information? Personally think it would be best that we deny the terrorists the propaganda they desire to create and minimize the impact on the rest of the country. We don't want to spread panic or fear, we don't want people to believe that their friends and neighbors are conspiracists or terrorists."

The Azeri stood up and complained "I agree with your sentiments comrade Yanayev, but I think the word is already out in the Azerbaijani SSR. The people of Baku saw the events, my regional KGB have told me that there is supposedly a planned protest tomorrow and we're still trying to reorganize after their disgusting attack on our party headquarters." He sat down as Yanayev interjected "Don't worry about that Comrade Mutallibov, if the general secretary would allow me, I'd like to take the lead and personally deal with the response to this. We will keep tight information security in the region, and temporarily secure our administration and other important infrastructure, with an expansion of the already declared state of emergency." Romanov congratulated Yanayev's personal initiative and authorized him to lead the response.

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An ordinary day for the most part:
For the vast majority of Soviet citizens, a brief note during the monday night (still the 29th) a broadcast of a particularly positive report of news, mentioned that there were some minor disturbances in Baku, by radical nationalist groups. This is all they were told, and in general the vast majority of the country were ignorant of the events which had occurred. Some had believed there had been another round of political arrests, but nothing as major as what was happening. All of the phone lines between it were either cut or deliberately monitored. In Azerbaijan, the only thing that now played was classical music, television and movie reruns and 'special news updates' that featured disinformation about an accident at the refinery. The 23rd Guards Motor Rifle Division and the 295th Motor Rifle Division along with other components of the 4th Army and Transcaucasian military district were readied for operations, conscripts and professional soldiers liked were readied, ostensibly to restore order, yet only still armed with live ammo. The air component of the district, the VVS ZKVO flew constant flights of MiG-25 and SU-24 reconnaissance planes, using new imaging technology to map out the concentrations of rebels, although the terrain certainly favored them. The only forces armed with non lethal weapons were detachments of military police and OMON riot police. It would take time to gather these forces, and plan their imposition of martial law, time that was on the side of the demonstrators and protestors, who planned to demonstrate in Baku on the 30th. The groups that evaded detection, ones not even part of the network and an outraged and invigorated nationalism stirred in as the center of Communist domination in Azerbaijan burned and was left scorched.
 
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Chapter Three: Bishops Gambit
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Bishop's Gambit
Gennady Yanayev was not particularly special, he had become an engineer and headed a mechanized farm before joining the party. He held various posts and had a strong background in administration and bureaucracy, but decades of living deep in the party had shaped his worldview. Some have even described him as a philanderer and a drunk, but he was a hardliner through and through. Ideologically committed to the party, he had worked hand in hand in assuaging the concerns of the Soviet labourers, while leading the national central council of (labour) Unions (VTsSPS). Later he had been elevated to secretary of the Central Committee of the party but he recently was rotated out of that role. Now he was a key member of the Politburo and part of the power structure of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Unlike many, he didn't have any military experience, being slightly too young for the second world war. General Secretary Romanov held Yanayev as both a friend and a critical partner in dominating the conservative and hardline factions of the party, giving him the task of subjugating the rebellion in the Caucasus and Azerbaijan in particular was both an attempt to give Yanayev a chance to score more political credit and prestige and because he was generally believed to be someone who could be relied upon.

Romanov also wanted to keep the Defence Minister Dmitry Yazov in the capital, for national level response. Yanayev was given an advisor from the Soviet Army, a rising star who had won much credit while working with the Iraqis in the Gulf War, Venedikt Grigorev, who was promoted to Major General. He was given a special appointment within the Transcaucasian military district, to take orders from Yanayev and to direct and command both the 4th Army and the 7th Guards Army, as to work in conjunction with the efforts in the North Caucasus Military District to suppress the armed resistance in that region as well. Yanayev only volunteered because he honestly thought this would be an easy win and out of a sincere ideological disgust of the sheer disregard for his and the state's authority.

Both men were drinkers and smokers, their first few meetings went relatively well, Yanayev had respect for the officer, Grigorev wasn't sure what to think just yet, but it seemed Yanayev was reasonable enough, if not pliable. It was soon decided that it would be best to base their efforts as close to the action as possible, and choose to set up shop at the HQ of the 4th Army in Baku. As they arrived, by personal plane, to the airbase, followed by another with an entourage of support officers, bureaucrats and assistants. They looked out the window of their planes and saw on the streets of Baku masses of people filling the avenues and public square. As their planes landed, conscripts watched in awe as the finest state cars arrived to shepherd them to the army base where they commandeered an entire building, which was quickly being set up with communications equipment, stationary and materials for them and their staff. Just as they began to get situated, reports started flying in. Massive protests were occuring all over Baku, some verging on rioting, waving Azeri and Islamist flags.

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The demonstrations started late in the morning around 11am. At this point, no one in the Soviet Union had ever dared a mass protest, Pax Sovietica had been rigidly enforced since the last guerilla fighters in the Ukraine and Baltics were hunted down in the late 50s. However, for the nationalist and Islamist groups, having radicalized and festered for years, encouraged by both foreign agents and radical groups, it was becoming clear it was now or never; this was especially the case in Baku, where it was well known that the Communist Party Headquarters was literally bombed. The fires were put out and some security forces were guarding it, but the word had spread, it was well known in Baku and some major Azeri cities, and rumored in Armenia and in the general region. The demonstrations operated like a serious of dominos, first the most radical of the political groups came out to Lenin Square in Baku, followed by the more moderate groups. They both coordinated and were coordinated by a command cell, operated by individuals given training and equipment by the CIA, but the equipment was foreign enough as to maintain plausible deniability. At first, roughly 5000 people showed up immediately, followed by tens of thousands by 12:05PM. The sheer size of the demonstration attracted the attention of the non connected/non aligned groups and networks, as well as many of the general population who were either bored, not working, wanted something to do, or out of genuine discontent. Many started marching around the city, waving national symbols, carrying pictures of family members or friends who had been killed or arrested; the sentiment in the crowd became 'they can't arrest all of us'. By 3:30 PM in the afternoon, the demonstration was nearing a mass of over 65 thousand people, becoming increasingly agitated at the police and internal troops keeping them away from the Government house next to Lenin Square. It was around this time that Yanayev and Grigorev had landed and been taken to the military base.

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Death To Romanov Part I
Yanayev tried his best to make it sound better than it was as he discussed the situation with Romanov on the Phone, I listened closely to his political wordings, his exaggerations and minimalizations. But it didn't seem like his boss was very happy with him, I waited for him to finish up to call me into his office. A few long minutes later and he called me in, and I sat down. My fortunes seemed to be up, promotion to Major General, being mentioned by name by fucking Romanov. I never thought I would be anywhere close to here just a few years ago, honestly I kind of thought they'd get rid of me for what they had me do in Afghanistan, but I guess the man appreciates loyalty, I like that about him. Yanayev finished his conversation with Romanov with pleasantries and assurances. He was already drinking, I could tell this was going to be an interesting assignment.

"Well Comrade Major General"
"Well Comrade Yanayev"

He was affable at least, I'm glad I didn't have to do this with some arrogant bitch.
"It appears as if the situation is worse than we thought, not only do we have bandits in the mountains, in the cities and their holes in the countryside, but now we have masses of traitors outside these very gates. They're in flagrant disregard of our authority. We have to do something and we have to do it now, the General Secretary said we should try to keep the killing as little as possible, try to make sure the foreigners know as little of what we do here as possible. The KGB believe it's impossible apparently, but Romanov just doesn't want something like that thing in China that might get in the way of detente happening, but he said we have the authority to do whatever it is we have to do."

It was a little chilling to me, to hear such disregard for the lives of our own citizens. I mean yes they were 'breaking the law' but I bet half of these people are just there for an excuse not to work. A party apparatchik like Yanayev might not get that, or he might as well understand that, could he be hiding something sinister behind those eyes? I doubt it, he just seems like a bureaucrat to me. But overall they're not wrong, we can't tolerate this sort of thing, we can't show the world and the Americans that we are weak.

I cleared my throat "Well Comrade Yanayev, I believe we are well within our right to disburse this illegal gathering immediately. They're in direct violation of both the law of this SSR and the state of emergency; and the terms of our mandate. However, we know that the Armenians and Azerbaijanis have some kind of nationalist animosity to each other."

Yanayev interrupted me "Everyone knows that but besides, I've read the dossier too, what of it?"

He must have thought I was insulting his intelligence. He's an interesting animal.

"We'll leave the base garrisons as is, we have Spetsnaz detachments here for our own protection. But instead of risking collusion and fraternization between the soldiers and the population, or just the psychological consequences of unleashing them on their own people. I'll call in the mostly Armenian and Russian 127th Motor Rifle and 15th Motor Rifle Divisions. I'll also bring in the 10th Guards Motor Rifle Division from Georgia. It'll take about a day for the Armenians to get here, three for the one in Georgia. In the mean time, we'll make an attempt with OMON and the internal troops to control the crowd. I'll use the 4th Army's air assets to keep an eye on them too. Once the reinforcements arrive, we'll completely and utterly crush these scum. Then we'll start rooting out the rebels, once we get the people here back in their homes and into their jobs."

Yanayev listened closely as I spoke, he looked to me and said
"Sounds good Major General, you have my permission to make the arrangements."
 
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Loving this Timeline. Has the Soviet Naval Build up and the Development of the of the Yak 41 (141) continued ?
For the most part, they delayed some of the most ambitious parts of the plan but I plan to do an update on the naval/military build up soon, probably with the space race...

They ended up putting the on the backburner, but not totally cancelling the Yak 41 (141) though, depending more on navalised and improved variants of the MiG-29 and SU-27 and with their stealth program in full swing, with all of those fancy American components they're reverse engineering, they need more efficient use of resources.
 
Chapter Three: Bishops Gambit
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Death to Romanov: Part II
Many of the demonstrators, camped out others went home but returned immediately in the morning. The radicals immediately set to demagoguery, some streets were barricaded. Many pamphlets were handed out, nearly all propagandistic, but many made appeals to religious fervor, and accused the Soviet Union and Communists of genocide and chemical/biological warfare in Afghanistan; against their muslim brothers. Many preachers held their qurans and said that this was the time for jihad. They shouted that while maybe there were more houses, more goods, there was less freedom than ever, and if things continued as they were, the nation of Azeris would be no more. In a few buildings or storefronts that were taken over, molotov cocktails were prepared by members of the radical cells. They promised that if the people of Baku continued their resolve and showed no fear, that the great tyranny of the Communists could be resisted and that the rest of the world was on their side. The latter part was somewhat true, despite the Soviet attempts to cover up the unrest, it was reported on in the western world, commented on journalists, NGOs and numerous public figures. Amnesty international made a much publicized plea that the Soviet government respect the United Nations Charter and the human rights of it's people. The KGB noted how fast it took between their response and the notice and it was clear that there was a leak somewhere, and went to immediately plugging it. Within the Warsaw Pact itself, the only sources of television channels or radio were government sanctioned, everything else was jammed. Of course some news was smuggled in, but the vast majority of the population only knew what the government wanted them to, which helped keep the unrest contained regionally, at least for now.

By the afternoon, the both the 27th Motor Rifle and 15th Motor Rifle Divisions were rapidly deployed off of trains outside of the city, and immediately billeted in either military bases Azeri personnel were transferred from or simply empty factories or warehouses. Despite the anti sectarian policies of the Soviet Union, there still bristled Armenian nationalist sentiment, especially regarding the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. Some contingents of Armenian troops were more than happy to bestow upon the Azeri population the will of the Soviet Union. Orders to move out were given once the units were ready to go, some of the soldiers had managed a few hours rest, but many were mostly irritated; having been called up so hastily and forced out for such a mission. Of course, they were promised bonus pay and other rewards, which increased morale for the operation. They set upon the city, cutting it's various quarters into different sectors and vectors to secure. Once the soldiers entered the city, and it became clear that they were Armenian and Russian, the protest started degenerating into a riot. As T-72s, T-80s and BMP-2s, followed by columns of soldiers and squadrons of OMON and military police equipped with tear gas and rubber bullets. After a few hours, they managed to contain the protest to Lenin Square and the surrounding barricaded areas. An attempt to storm the government house (the building marked with graffiti in the last post) failed when Azeri internal troops used live ammo to square off the crowd from approaching. The city was completely locked down, no one was allowed in or out. Helicopters circled around, providing constant up to date information on the location of the crowds.

Many sit ins and protests occurred, as the people yelled at the soldiers and threw rocks. As the tanks closed the distance on one main road, the people choose to sit down and attempt non violent resistance methods to prevent the further advance. A major got on top of a BMP-2 with a microphone and ordered them off the road, citing the state of emergency, and their violation of Soviet and Azeri law. He said he would give them 10 minutes to move. They stayed. They sung songs, yelled back common curse words at the Armenian soldiers, or just waited. When the ten minutes had passed, the major gave them another ten. They still didn't move. He radioed command, and was told to move them. Military police detachments and OMOH launched volleys of tear gas at them, this disjointed many of them, but some still tried to stay in position. Those that did were pelted with rubber bullets. It didn't take long until they were cleared away and the armoured vehicles continued venturing to the center of the protest. In the center began a frenzy, "The communists have sent their Armenian mercenaries to take our city, rape our women and beat us to submission, are we going to let this happen?!" was shouted by one nationalist. As the tanks breached the barricades, they were pelted with molotov cocktails, setting their exteriors on fire. The crowds chanted "Death to Romanov" "Down with the communists" alternatingly. So many molotov cocktails were thrown that even nearby buildings caught fire. The soldiers continued, pelting and gassing any resistance until they finally reached the square. There was too much open ground for the vehicles to completely cover the men, Molotov cocktails were thrown. A few unfortunate OMON troops and Soldiers caught particularly bad ones and either were burned severely or died. The Soldiers of the 27th and 15th Divisions were enraged, their officers tried to calm them down. Someone had made the fortunate decision to not issue the armoured vehicles ammo, because their crews became also increasingly irritated as they were hit by wave after wave of molotov cocktail, one BMP was burnt so bad that the crewmen had to escape the through the main hatch, and when another molotov hit the back doors (where the fuel tanks are contained) the entire vehicle exploded.

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The officers knew something had to be done before the soldiers went wild, they ordered the OMON and MPs to gas to the massive crowd. Doing so resulted in mass chaos, people began stampeding to get away, some were killed or seriously injured. When some came to throw more molotov cocktails, infantry started shooting with live ammo, killing several people in front of the crowd. The people became furious and while nearly half attempted to desert the protest, only to find detainment at temporary camps, the other half charged the soldiers. OMON and the MPs tried to keep them away with rubber bullets, and even gave out magazines with them to a few of the more conscientious types. They managed to wound or subdue most of the first wave that charged at them, knocking them on their backs, breaking their ribs, or limbs. But as they ran out of the rubber bullets and the second wave charged, hitting soldiers with hammers, clubs, stabbing some with knives or even throwing molotov cocktails into their ranks, it was clear some of these were suicidal attacks, others just frenzied rioters. The differentiation didn't matter, the infantry started firing with live ammo, rounds went into the general crowd or ricocheted. One crazed Armenian soldier, who had just lost his brother to a molotov, raised his PKM and started blindly firing in the direction of the rioters. Officers started beating the troops, shouting "Prekrateta!" (Stop it) and firing their weapons or pistols in the air, they had to instruct some of their more senior soldiers to get the conscripts under control. But the crowds resolve was broken, the colonel in charge ordered the vehicles to charge in and take back the square, ural trucks had arrived and soldiers were told to sling their weapons as they were given batons and riot shields. Masses of soldiers charged what was left of the square and took it back violently from anyone who resisted. The rest laid down and put their hands on their heads as they were instructed by OMON with microphones. In about three hours, Baku had been subdued. Later official numbers tallied only 100 dead, international organizations and the west allege at least 1000. In reality it was about 733, with thousands being wounded or seriously injured. Some of the events were captured on VHS via camcorders, and smuggled out of the country...
 
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For the most part, they delayed some of the most ambitious parts of the plan but I plan to do an update on the naval/military build up soon, probably with the space race...

They ended up putting the on the backburner, but not totally cancelling the Yak 41 (141) though, depending more on navalised and improved variants of the MiG-29 and SU-27 and with their stealth program in full swing, with all of those fancy American components they're reverse engineering, they need more efficient use of resources.
Looking forward to that update. Understandable but The Yak 41 has always had a soft spot in my heart, would have been one heck of a VStol Fighter if they had gotten the money to fund it.
 
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