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Certainly, there are different approaches to this question. One approach would suggest that the Soviet Union repressed many localized threats in different nations. With its forceful nature, smaller elements that sought to gain power were unable to do so. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it was analogous to lifting a heavy rock embedded in the soil. Many other elements were released into the environment. Some of these challenged one another for power, making life in some of the former nations challenging. Certainly, another challenge faced was the navigation of freedom in a post- Cold War Setting. From one realm where expectations were clearly defined to a more amorphous and freedom driven setting was a challenge, and still is for many.
Economically, it was a hardship on these republics and their citizens. When a country collapses, the economy more or less has to start over, there's rampant inflation, job dislocation, loss of pensions and government public support. All of these things caused widespread hardship among the general population.
In some of these newly independent 14 republics, they gained new freedoms of expression, speech, religion, association - they gained some basic legal rights in other words. This varied greatly from country to country, and some actually became more dictatorial after the breakup. (Turkmenistan, , Uzbekistan, Georgia, Belarus) Some fell into civil strife and even armed conflict (Moldova, Chechnya), but there were some countries where the citizens benefited politically (Ukraine, Armenia).
That depends on how you look at it and from whose perspective.
Overall, I would say it's probably more of a benefit in that the people are somewhat more free to act the way they want to. However, Russia has had some very major economic and social problems since the USSR fell apart. In addition, its politics have sort of gone back toward being authoritarian.
I would say, however, that they are probably overall better off. Putin is something of a dictator and people do get killed for trying to oppose him (journalists, especially) but the average person has more of a right to go where they want, read what they want, worship more or less how they want.
So even if things aren't great, people in Russia are better off for the most part than they were in Soviet times.
When I visited the USSR in 1984 we saw minimal lines for limited goods regarding economic inconvenience.All the russians we met were asking us for western goods and dollars.All day multitudes of young men in uniforms loitered around red square. I knew the world would change as I lived on and that the Russian people would prefer peace and fantastical western bread just as we desire in the united states.Now,together we vote for the products of our choice and eat our election choices!I can not imagine any government like pre Andropov today in our world.I believe the question is impossible.
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