The beginning of the end of the USSR was the cover-up of the Chornobyl explosion. The officials' families and children were being put on trains to get out of Kyiv. The Ukr. population was told to continue celebrating the Sunday with parades. Normal. But then, when the earthquake in Armenia happened a few months later, Gorbachev issued pleas for help. There were no pleas after Chornobyl.
I spoke with a Ukr. artist who came to Winnipeg with an exhibition a few years later. He spoke openly about Chornobyl and the system. "I am no longer afraid. When they put my elderly mother and my wife and young children in such danger, when they themselves were escaping the air itself, I cannot remain silent." There were many like him. The final straw.
During the "Spirit of Ukraine" art exhibit at the Wpg Art Gallery (from Ukraine) in the summer of 1991, one of the curators smiled bitterly at my comment -- I had said something about the summer rain -- "Yes, but at least you know what is coming down in that rain."