Collapse of the Soviet Empire

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Soviet attacks in the ensuing days resulted in six deaths and several injuries; one person died later of their wounds. When Estonia had officially restored its independence during the coup see below in the dark hours of August 20, , at pm Tallinn time, many Estonian volunteers surrounded the Tallinn TV Tower in an attempt to prepare to cut off the communication channels after the Soviet troops seized it and refused to be intimidated by the Soviet troops.

When Edgar Savisaar confronted the Soviet troops for ten minutes, they finally retreated from the TV tower after a failed resistance against the Estonians. Faced with growing separatism , Gorbachev sought to restructure the Soviet Union into a less centralized state. On August 20, , the Russian SFSR was scheduled to sign a New Union Treaty that would have converted the Soviet Union into a federation of independent republics with a common president, foreign policy and military.

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It was strongly supported by the Central Asian republics, which needed the economic advantages of a common market to prosper. However, it would have meant some degree of continued Communist Party control over economic and social life. More radical reformists were increasingly convinced that a rapid transition to a market economy was required, even if the eventual outcome meant the disintegration of the Soviet Union into several independent states.

Independence also accorded with Yeltsin's desires as president of the Russian Federation, as well as those of regional and local authorities to get rid of Moscow's pervasive control. In contrast to the reformers' lukewarm response to the treaty, the conservatives, "patriots", and Russian nationalists of the USSR — still strong within the CPSU and the military — were opposed to weakening the Soviet state and its centralized power structure.

The coup leaders issued an emergency decree suspending political activity and banning most newspapers. Coup organizers expected popular support but found that public opinion in large cities and in the republics was mostly against them, manifested by public demonstrations, especially in Moscow. Thousands of Muscovites came out to defend the White House the Russian Federation's parliament and Yeltsin's office , the symbolic seat of Russian sovereignty at the time.

The organizers tried but ultimately failed to arrest Yeltsin, who rallied opposition to the coup by making speeches from atop a tank. The special forces dispatched by the coup leaders took up positions near the White House, but members refused to storm the barricaded building. The coup leaders also neglected to jam foreign news broadcasts, so many Muscovites watched it unfold live on CNN.

Even the isolated Gorbachev was able to stay abreast of developments by tuning into the BBC World Service on a small transistor radio. After three days, on August 21, , the coup collapsed. The organizers were detained and Gorbachev was reinstated as president, albeit with his power much depleted. On August 24, , Gorbachev dissolved the Central Committee of the CPSU, resigned as the party's general secretary, and dissolved all party units in the government.

It was on the very same day that the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine was enacted by the Supreme Council of Ukraine , signalling the beginning of the end of the USSR as a whole, as Ukraine declared independence on that day. Five days later, the Supreme Soviet indefinitely suspended all CPSU activity on Soviet territory, effectively ending Communist rule in the Soviet Union and dissolving the only remaining unifying force in the country. Gorbachev established a State Council of the Soviet Union on 5 September, designed to bring him and the highest officials of the remaining republics into a collective leadership, able to appoint a premier of the Soviet Union ; it never functioned properly, though Ivan Silayev de facto took the post through the Committee on the Operational Management of the Soviet Economy and the Interstate Economic Committee and tried to form a government though with rapidly reducing powers.

The Soviet Union collapsed with dramatic speed in the last quarter of Between August and December, 10 republics declared their independence, largely out of fear of another coup. As earlier stated, Ukraine was the first of the republics of break ties with the Union. By the end of September, Gorbachev no longer had the authority to influence events outside of Moscow. He was challenged even there by Yeltsin, who had begun taking over what remained of the Soviet government, including the Kremlin. By 7 November , most newspapers referred to the country as the 'former Soviet Union'.

The final round of the Soviet Union's collapse began with a Ukrainian popular referendum on December 1, , in which 90 percent of voters opted for independence.

Moscow's empire - rise and fall (1/4) - DW Documentary

The secession of Ukraine, long second only to Russia in economic and political power, ended any realistic chance of Gorbachev keeping the Soviet Union together even on a limited scale. The leaders of the three Slavic republics, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus formerly Byelorussia , agreed to discuss possible alternatives to the union. On December 8, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus secretly met in Belavezhskaya Pushcha , in western Belarus, and signed the Belavezha Accords , which proclaimed the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and announced formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States CIS as a looser association to take its place.

They also invited other republics to join the CIS. Gorbachev called it an unconstitutional coup.

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However, by this time there was no longer any reasonable doubt that, as the preamble of the Accords put it, "the USSR, as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality, is ceasing its existence. The legality of this action was questionable, since Soviet law did not allow a republic to unilaterally recall its deputies. Any objections from the latter would have likely had no effect, since the Soviet government had effectively been rendered impotent long before December.

On the surface, it appeared that the largest republic had formally seceded. However, this is not the case. Russia apparently took the line that it was not possible to secede from a country that no longer existed. Later that day, Gorbachev hinted for the first time that he was considering stepping down. On December 17, , along with 28 European countries, the European Economic Community , and four non-European countries, the three Baltic Republics and nine of the twelve remaining Soviet republics signed the European Energy Charter in the Hague as sovereign states.

Doubts remained over whether the Belavezha Accords had legally dissolved the Soviet Union, since they were signed by only three republics. However, on December 21, , representatives of 11 of the 12 remaining republics — all except Georgia — signed the Alma-Ata Protocol , which confirmed the dissolution of the Union and formally established the CIS.

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They also "accepted" Gorbachev's resignation. While Gorbachev hadn't made any formal plans to leave the scene yet, he did tell CBS News that he would resign as soon as he saw that the CIS was indeed a reality. In a nationally televised speech early in the morning of December 25, , Gorbachev resigned as president of the USSR — or, as he put it, "I hereby discontinue my activities at the post of President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

A week earlier, Gorbachev had met with Yeltsin and accepted the fait accompli of the Soviet Union's dissolution. Bush held a brief televised speech officially recognizing the independence of the 11 remaining republics. On December 26, the Council of the Republics , the upper chamber of the Union's Supreme Soviet, voted both itself and the Soviet Union out of existence.

The following day Yeltsin moved into Gorbachev's former office, though the Russian authorities had taken over the suite two days earlier. By the end of , the few remaining Soviet institutions that had not been taken over by Russia ceased operation, and individual republics assumed the central government's role. After being circulated among the other UN member states, with no objection raised, the statement was declared accepted on the last day of the year, December 31, The breakup of the Soviet Union saw a massive impact in the sporting world.

Before its dissolution, the team had just qualified for Euro , but their place was instead taken by the CIS national football team. However, 12 of the 15 former Soviet Republics competed together as the Unified Team and marched under the Olympic Flag in Barcelona, where they finished first in the medal rankings.

Consequences of the Collapse of the Soviet Union | Norwich University Online

Separately, Lithuania , Latvia , and Estonia also competed as independent nations in the Games. The Unified Team also competed in Albertville earlier in the year represented by six of the twelve ex-Republics , and finished second in the medal ranking at those Games. Afterwards, the individual IOCs of the non-Baltic former republics were established.

In these Summer Games, the Unified Team secured 45 gold medals, 38 silver medals, and 29 bronze medals to beat second place United States by four medals, and third place Germany by 30 medals.

In addition to great team success, the Unified Team also saw great personal success. Vitaly Scherbo of Belarus was able to secure six gold medals for the team in gymnastics, while also becoming the most decorated athlete of the Summer Games.


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Only six teams competed earlier in the Winter Olympics in Albertville. The Unified team placed second, losing to Germany by three medals. However, much like the summer games, the Unified team had the most decorated medalist in the Winter Games as well with Lyubov Yegorova of Russia, a figure skater with five total medals. States with limited recognition are shown in italics. Elderly people tended to be more nostalgic than younger Russians. The breakdown of economic ties that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union led to a severe economic crisis and catastrophic fall in living standards in post-Soviet states and the former Eastern Bloc , [] which was even worse than the Great Depression.

The other twelve independent states established from the former Soviet Republics were all admitted to the UN:. Historiography on Soviet dissolution can be roughly classified in two groups, namely intentionalist accounts and structuralist accounts. Intentionalist accounts contend that Soviet collapse was not inevitable and resulted from the policies and decisions of specific individuals usually Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

One characteristic example of intentionalist writing is historian Archie Brown's The Gorbachev Factor , which argues Gorbachev was the main force in Soviet politics at least in the period — and even later largely spearheaded the political reforms and developments as opposed to being led by events. By contrast, structuralist accounts take a more deterministic view in which Soviet dissolution was an outcome of deeply-rooted structural issues, which planted a "time-bomb". For example, Edward Walker has argued that while minority nationalities were denied power at the Union level, confronted by a culturally-destabilizing form of economic modernization and subjected to a certain amount of Russification, they were at the same time strengthened by several policies pursued by Soviet regime such as indigenization of leadership, support for local languages and so on which over time created conscious nations.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Process leading to the late breakup of the USSR. Armenia 2. Azerbaijan 3. Belarus 4. Georgia 6. Kazakhstan 7.

The Collapse of the Soviet Empire

Kyrgyzstan 8. Lithuania Moldova Russia Turkmenistan Ukraine Olympic boycotts Olympic boycott Olympic boycott. Lenin 2. Stalin 3.

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