To begin with, it is true that the long neglect of ethnic problems was an underlying cause for the collapse of the USSR because when openness and reconstructing were introduced, the Soviet republics’ awareness of nationalism, desire for liberation and demand for more democratic government grew uncontrollable. First, the republics’ awareness of nationalism exploded rampantly. Evidence:"Gorbachev’s TV Address on Interethnic Relations,; Izvestiia, July 3, 1989.”Each person, whatever his nation, must feel himself to be an equal citizen in any part of the country and must have the opportunity to enjoy all the rights guaranteed by the Soviet constitution”. Explanation:Gorbachev was alarmed about the unrest inspired by nationalism, so he tried to disseminate the idea that nationalists had radical and deliberate purposes threatening the society and each individual. However, the only way to maintain joyful civil life is to unite together, preserve the authority of the Soviet Union and consecrate the Soviet constitution.
(strongly biased source, though sounds like justifying the turbulence caused by his reforms)Second, the burning desire for liberation emerged especially in the Baltic republics, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Evidence: According to Estonian World, On August 23rd, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, approximately 2 million Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians joined hands, forming a 600km human chain to protest against illegal Soviet occupation. Explanation: It is the fact that the Baltic republics were annexed by the USSR as a result of Germany’s defeat and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact rendered the Baltic republics feel exceptionally detached from the USSR. In spite of the forced policy of Russification, the Baltic republics resisted complete cultural control in different ways. For example, Estonians held a song festival singing nationalist songs each year.Third, citizens in the Baltic republics also sought for a more democratic government other than the centralized Communist Party. Evidence: According to “Estonians campaign for independence (The Singing Revolution), 1987-1991”, in attempt to establish a parallel Estonian government, 860,000 people registered as Estonian citizens and voted for the alternative governing body, the Congress of Estonia.
(reliable and objective secondary source)Explanation:When Gorbachev’s economic policy of reconstructing, which was used to decentralize the Soviet’s economic power, was popularly embraced, Estonians became resolved to pursue liberation and independence because in the aspect of politics, the Soviet government was also highly centralized. S HYPERLINK "http://www.estonica.org/node/20696/" tate security forces (KGB) were sent to the republics and were responsible for daily surveillance.
Gorbachev never expected this because although he did want his reform to be carried out widely, but that does not mean he agreed to allow the republics to reform themselves.