The history of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
from 1982 through 1991 spans the period from Leonid Brezhnev's death and funeral until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Due to the years of Soviet military buildup at the expense of domestic development, economic growth stagnated. Failed attempts at reform, a standstill economy, and the success of the United States
United States
against the Soviet Union's forces in the war in Afghanistan
led to a general feeling of discontent, especially in the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe.[1] Greater political and social freedoms, instituted by the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, created an atmosphere of open criticism of the communist regime. The dramatic drop of the price of oil in 1985 and 1986 profoundly influenced actions of the Soviet leadership.[2] Nikolai Tikhonov, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, was succeeded by Nikolai Ryzhkov, and Vasili Kuznetsov, the acting Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, was succeeded by Andrei Gromyko, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs. Several republics began resisting central control, and increasing democratization led to a weakening of the central government. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
finally collapsed in 1991 when Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
seized power in the aftermath of a failed coup that had attempted to topple reform-minded Gorbachev.


1 Leadership transition

1.1 Andropov interregnum 1.2 Chernenko interregnum

2 Rise of Gorbachev 3 Changing of the guard

3.1 Reforms 3.2 Unintended consequences

4 Dissolution of the USSR 5 Summary 6 Post-Soviet restructuring 7 See also 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

Leadership transition[edit] By 1982, the stagnation of the Soviet economy was obvious, as evidenced by the fact that the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
had been importing grain from the U.S. throughout the 1970s, but the system was so firmly entrenched that any real change seemed impossible. A huge rate of defense spending consumed large parts of the economy. The transition period that separated the Brezhnev and Gorbachev eras resembled the former much more than the latter, although hints of reform emerged as early as 1983. Andropov interregnum[edit] Brezhnev died on 10 November 1982. Two days passed between his death and the announcement of the election of Yuri Andropov
Yuri Andropov
as the new General Secretary, suggesting to many outsiders that a power struggle had occurred in the Kremlin. Andropov maneuvered his way into power both through his KGB
connections and by gaining the support of the military by promising not to cut defense spending. For comparison, some of his rivals such as Konstantin Chernenko
Konstantin Chernenko
were skeptical of a continued high military budget. Aged 69, he was the oldest person ever appointed as General Secretary and 11 years older than Brezhnev when he acquired that post. In June 1983, he assumed the post of chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, thus becoming the ceremonial head of state. It had taken Brezhnev 13 years to acquire this post. Andropov began a thorough house-cleaning throughout the party and state bureaucracy, a decision made easy by the fact that the Central Committee had an average age of 69. He replaced more than one-fifth of the Soviet ministers and regional party first secretaries and more than one-third of the department heads within the Central Committee apparatus. As a result, he replaced the aging leadership with younger, more vigorous administrators. But Andropov's ability to reshape the top leadership was constrained by his own age and poor health and the influence of his rival (and longtime ally of Leonid Brezhnev) Konstantin Chernenko, who had previously supervised personnel matters in the Central Committee. The transition of power from Brezhnev to Andropov was notably the first one in Soviet history to occur completely peacefully with no one being imprisoned, killed, or forced from office. Andropov's domestic policy leaned heavily towards restoring discipline and order to Soviet society. He eschewed radical political and economic reforms, promoting instead a small degree of candor in politics and mild economic experiments similar to those that had been associated with the late Premier Alexei Kosygin's initiatives in the mid-1960s. In tandem with such economic experiments, Andropov launched an anti-corruption drive that reached high into the government and party ranks. Unlike Brezhnev, who possessed several mansions and a fleet of luxury cars, he lived quite simply. While visiting Budapest in early 1983, he expressed interest in Hungary's Goulash Communism and that the sheer size of the Soviet economy made strict top-down planning impractical. Changes were needed in a hurry for 1982 had witnessed the country's worst economic performance since World War II, with real GDP growth at almost zero percent. In foreign affairs, Andropov continued Brezhnev's policies. US−Soviet relations deteriorated rapidly beginning in March 1983, when US President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
dubbed the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
an "evil empire". The official press agency TASS accused Reagan of "thinking only in terms of confrontation and bellicose, lunatic anti-communism". Further deterioration occurred as a result of the 1 Sep 1983 Soviet shootdown of Korean Air Lines Flight 007
Korean Air Lines Flight 007
near Moneron Island
Moneron Island
carrying 269 people including a sitting US congressman, Larry McDonald, and over Reagan's stationing of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Western Europe. In Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua
and elsewhere, under the Reagan Doctrine, the US began undermining Soviet-supported governments by supplying arms to anti-communist resistance movements in these countries. President Reagan's decision to deploy medium-range Pershing II missiles in Western Europe met with mass protests in countries such as France and West Germany, sometimes numbering 1 million people at a time. Many Europeans became convinced that the US and not the Soviet Union was the more aggressive country, and there was fear over the prospect of a war, especially since there was a widespread conviction in Europe that the US, being separated from the Red Army by two oceans as opposed to a short land border, was insensitive to the people of Germany and other countries. Moreover, the memory of World War II
World War II
was still strong and many Germans could not forget the destruction and mass rapes committed by Soviet troops in the closing days of that conflict. This attitude was helped along by the Reagan Administration's comments that a war between NATO
and the Warsaw Pact would not necessarily result in the use of nuclear weapons. Andropov's health declined rapidly during the tense summer and fall of 1983, and he became the first Soviet leader to miss the anniversary celebrations of the 1917 revolution that November.[citation needed] He died in February 1984 of kidney failure after disappearing from public view for several months. His most significant legacy to the Soviet Union was his discovery and promotion of Mikhail Gorbachev. Beginning in 1978, Gorbachev advanced in two years through the Kremlin hierarchy to full membership in the Politburo. His responsibilities for the appointment of personnel allowed him to make the contacts and distribute the favors necessary for a future bid to become general secretary. At this point, Western experts believed that Andropov was grooming Gorbachev as his successor. However, although Gorbachev acted as a deputy to the general secretary throughout Andropov's illness, Gorbachev's time had not yet arrived when his patron died early in 1984. Chernenko interregnum[edit] At 71, Konstantin Chernenko
Konstantin Chernenko
was in poor health, suffering from emphysema, and unable to play an active role in policy making when he was chosen, after lengthy discussion, to succeed Andropov. But Chernenko's short time in office did bring some significant policy changes. The personnel changes and investigations into corruption undertaken under Andropov's tutelage came to an end. Chernenko advocated more investment in consumer goods and services and in agriculture. He also called for a reduction in the CPSU's micromanagement of the economy and greater attention to public opinion. However, KGB
repression of Soviet dissidents also increased. In February 1983, Soviet representatives withdrew from the World Psychiatric Organization in protest of that group's continued complaints about the use of psychiatry to suppress dissent. This policy was underlined in June when Vladimir Danchev, a broadcaster for Radio Moscow, referred to the Soviet troops in Afghanistan
as "invaders" while conducting English-language broadcasts. After refusing to retract this statement, he was sent to a mental institution for several months. Valery Senderov, a leader of an unofficial union of professional workers, was sentenced to seven years in a labor camp early in the year for speaking out on discrimination practiced against Jews in education and the professions. Although Chernenko had called for renewed détente with the West, little progress was made towards closing the rift in East−West relations during his rule. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, retaliating for the United States-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics
1980 Summer Olympics
in Moscow. In September 1984,[3] the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
also prevented a visit to West Germany
West Germany
by East German leader Erich Honecker. Fighting in Afghanistan
also intensified, but in the late autumn of 1984 the United States
United States
and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
did agree to resume arms control talks in early 1985. Rise of Gorbachev[edit] The war in Afghanistan, often referred to as the Soviet Union's "Vietnam War",[4] led to increased public dissatisfaction with the Communist regime.[citation needed] Also, the Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster
in 1986 added motive force to Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika reforms, which eventually spiraled out of control and caused the Soviet system to collapse. Changing of the guard[edit] After years of stagnation, the "new thinking" (Anatoli Cherniaev, 2008: 131) of younger Communist apparatchik began to emerge. Following the death of terminally ill Konstantin Chernenko, the Politburo elected Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
to the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
(CPSU) in March 1985. At 54, Gorbachev was the youngest person since Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
to become General Secretary and the country's first head of state born a Soviet citizen instead of a subject of the tsar. During his official confirmation on March 11, Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko
Andrei Gromyko
spoke of how the new Soviet leader had filled in for Chernenko as CC Secretariat, and praised his intelligence and flexible, pragmatic ideas instead of rigid adherence to party ideology. Gorbachev was aided by a lack of serious competition in the Politburo. He immediately began appointing younger men of his generation to important party posts, including Nikolai Ryzhkov, Secretary of Economics, Viktor Cherbrikov, KGB
Chief, Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze
Eduard Shevardnadze
(replacing the 75-year-old Gromyko), Secretary of Defense Industries Lev Zaikov, and Secretary of Construction Boris Yeltsin. Removed from the Politburo and Secretariat was Grigory Romanov, who had been Gorbachev's most significant rival for the position of General Secretary. Gromyko's removal as Foreign Minister was the most unexpected change given his decades of unflinching, faithful service compared to the unknown, inexperienced Shevardnadze. More predictably, the 80-year-old Nikolai Tikhonov, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, was succeeded by Nikolai Ryzhkov, and Vasili Kuznetsov, the acting Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, was succeeded by Andrei Gromyko, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs. Further down the chain, up to 40% of the first secretaries of the oblasts (provinces) were replaced with younger, better educated, and more competent men. The defense establishment was also given a thorough shakeup with the commanders of all 16 military districts replaced along with all theaters of military operation, as well as the three Soviet fleets. Not since World War II
World War II
had the Soviet military had such a rapid turnover of officers. Sixty-eight-year-old Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov was fully rehabilitated after having fallen from favor in 1983–84 due to his handling of the KAL 007 shootdown and his ideas about improving Soviet strategic and tactical doctrines were made into an official part of defense policy, although some of his other ambitions such as developing the military into a smaller, tighter force based on advanced technology were not considered feasible for the time being. Many, but not all, of the younger army officers appointed during 1985 were proteges of Ogarkov. Gorbachev got off to an excellent start during his first months in power. He projected an aura of youth and dynamism compared to his aged predecessors and made frequent walks in the streets of the major cities answering questions from ordinary citizens. He became the first leader that spoke with the Soviet people
Soviet people
in person. When he made public speeches, he made clear that he was interested in constructive exchanges of ideas instead of merely reciting lengthy platitudes about the excellence of the Soviet system. He also spoke candidly about the slackness and run-down condition of Soviet society in recent years, blaming alcohol abuse, poor workplace discipline, and other factors for these situations. Alcohol was a particular nag of Gorbachev's, especially as he himself did not drink, and he made one of his major policy aims curbing the consumption of it. In terms of foreign policy, the most important one, relations with the United States, remained twitchy through 1985. In October, Gorbachev made his first visit to a non-communist country when he traveled to France and was warmly received. The fashion-conscious French were also captivated by his wife Raisa and political pundits widely believed that the comparatively young Soviet leader would have a PR advantage over President Reagan, who was 20 years his senior. Reagan and Gorbachev met for the first time in Geneva
in November. The three weeks preceding the summit meeting were marked by an unprecedented Soviet media campaign against the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), taking advantage of opposition at home in the US to the program. When it finally took place, the two superpower leaders established a solid rapport that boded well for the future despite Reagan's refusal to compromise on abandonment of SDI. A joint communique by both parties stated that they were in agreement that nuclear war could not be won by either side and must never be allowed to happen. It was also agreed that Reagan and Gorbachev would carry out two more summit meetings in 1986–87. Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
had officially ended the policy of détente, by financially aiding the Mujahideen
movement in neighboring Afghanistan, which served as a pretext for the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan six months later, with the aims of supporting the Afghan government, controlled by the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Tensions between the superpowers increased during this time, when Carter placed trade embargoes on the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and stated that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
was "the most serious threat to the peace since the Second World War."[5] East-West tensions increased during the first term of U.S. President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
(1981–85), reaching levels not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis as Reagan increased US military spending to 7% of the GDP.[citation needed] To match the USA's military buildup, the Soviet Union increased its own military spending to 27% of its GDP and froze production of civilian goods at 1980 levels, causing a sharp economic decline in the already failing Soviet economy. However, it is not clear where the number 27% of the GDP[citation needed] came from. This thesis is not confirmed by the extensive study on the causes of the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
by two prominent economists from the World Bank— William Easterly
William Easterly
and Stanley Fischer
Stanley Fischer
from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “… the study concludes that the increased Soviet defense spending provoked by Mr. Reagan's policies was not the straw that broke the back of the Empire. The Afghan war and the Soviet response to Mr. Reagan's Star Wars program caused only a relatively small rise in defense costs. And the defense effort throughout the period from 1960 to 1987 contributed only marginally to economic decline."[6] If economic premises are taken into account, it is not clear why the Soviet leaders did not adopt the Chinese option—economic liberalization with preservation of political system. Instead Gorbachev chose political liberalization during the years leading to the collapse of the USSR, while not implementing any significant economic reforms. The US financed the training for the Mujahideen
warlords such as Jalaluddin Haqqani, Gulbudin Hekmatyar and Burhanuddin Rabbani eventually culminated to the fall of the Soviet satellite the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.[7] While the CIA and MI6 and the People's Liberation Army
People's Liberation Army
of China financed the operation along with the Pakistan government against the Soviet Union,[8] eventually the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
began looking for a withdrawal route and in 1988 the Geneva
Accords were signed between Communist- Afghanistan
and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; under the terms Soviet troops were to withdraw.[9] Once the withdrawal was complete the Pakistan ISI continued to support the Mujahideen
against the Communist Government and by 1992, the government collapsed. US President Reagan also actively hindered the Soviet Union's ability to sell natural gas to Europe whilst simultaneously actively working to keep gas prices low, which kept the price of Soviet oil low and further starved the Soviet Union of foreign capital. This "long-term strategic offensive," which "contrasts with the essentially reactive and defensive strategy of "containment", accelerated the fall of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
by encouraging it to overextend its economic base.[10] The proposition that special operations by the CIA in Saudi Arabia affected the prices of Soviet oil was refuted by Marshall Goldman—one of the leading experts on the economy of the Soviet Union—in his latest book. He pointed out that the Saudis decreased their production of oil in 1985 (it reached a 16-year low), whereas the peak of oil production was reached in 1980. They increased the production of oil in 1986, reduced it in 1987 with a subsequent increase in 1988, but not to the levels of 1980 when production reached its highest level. The real increase happened in 1990, by which time the Cold War
Cold War
was almost over. In his book he asked why, if Saudi Arabia had such an effect on Soviet oil prices, did prices not fall in 1980 when the production of oil by Saudi Arabia reached its highest level—three times as much oil as in the mid-eighties—and why did the Saudis wait till 1990 to increase their production, five years after the CIA's supposed intervention? Why didn't the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
collapse in 1980 then?[11] However, this theory ignores the fact that the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
had already suffered several important setbacks during “reactive and defensive strategy” of “containment”. In 1972, Nixon normalized US relations with China, thus creating pressure on the Soviet Union. In 1979, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat
Anwar Sadat
severed military and economic relations with the USSR after signing the Camp David Accords
Camp David Accords
(by that time the USSR provided a lot of assistance to Egypt and supported it in all its military operations against Israel).[12] By the time Gorbachev ushered in the process that would lead to the dismantling of the Soviet administrative planned economy through his programs of glasnost (political openness), uskoreniye (speed-up of economic development) and perestroika (political and economic restructuring) announced in 1986, the Soviet economy suffered from both hidden inflation and pervasive supply shortages aggravated by an increasingly open black market that undermined the official economy.[citation needed] Additionally, the costs of superpower status—the military, space program, subsidies to client states—were out of proportion to the Soviet economy. The new wave of industrialization based upon information technology had left the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
desperate for Western technology and credits in order to counter its increasing backwardness.[citation needed] Reforms[edit]

Soviet Union
Soviet Union
administrative divisions, 1989

The Law on Cooperatives enacted in May 1988 was perhaps the most radical of the economic reforms during the early part of the Gorbachev era. For the first time since Vladimir Lenin's New Economic Policy, the law permitted private ownership of businesses in the services, manufacturing, and foreign-trade sectors. Under this provision, cooperative restaurants, shops, and manufacturers became part of the Soviet scene. Glasnost resulted in greater freedom of speech and the press becoming far less controlled. Thousands of political prisoners and many dissidents were also released.[citation needed] Soviet social science became free to explore and publish on many subjects that had previously been off limits, including conducting public opinion polls. The All−Union Center for Public Opinion Research (VCIOM)—the most prominent of several polling organizations that were started then— was opened. State archives became more accessible, and some social statistics that had been kept secret became open for research and publication on sensitive subjects such as income disparities, crime, suicide, abortion, and infant mortality. The first center for gender studies was opened within a newly formed Institute for the Socio−Economic Study of Human Population. In January 1987, Gorbachev called for democratization: the infusion of democratic elements such as multi-candidate elections into the Soviet political process. A 1987 conference convened by Soviet economist and Gorbachev adviser Leonid Abalkin, concluded: "Deep transformations in the management of the economy cannot be realized without corresponding changes in the political system."[13] In June 1988, at the CPSU's Nineteenth Party Conference,[14][citation needed] Gorbachev launched radical reforms meant to reduce party control of the government apparatus. On 1 December 1988, the Supreme Soviet amended the Soviet constitution to allow for the establishment of a Congress of People's Deputies as the Soviet Union's new supreme legislative body.[citation needed] Elections to the new Congress of People's Deputies were held throughout the USSR in March and April 1989. Gorbachev, as General Secretary of the Communist Party, could be forced to resign at any moment if the communist elite became dissatisfied with him. To proceed with reforms opposed by the majority of the communist party, Gorbachev aimed to consolidate power in a new position, President of the Soviet Union, which was independent from the CPSU and the soviets (councils) and whose holder could be impeached only in case of direct violation of the law.[15] On 15 March 1990, Gorbachev was elected as the first executive president. At the same time, Article 6 of the constitution was changed to deprive the CPSU of a monopoly on political power.[16] Unintended consequences[edit] Gorbachev's efforts to streamline the Communist system offered promise, but ultimately proved uncontrollable and resulted in a cascade of events that eventually concluded with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Initially intended as tools to bolster the Soviet economy, the policies of perestroika and glasnost soon led to unintended consequences. Relaxation under glasnost resulted in the Communist Party losing its absolute grip on the media. Before long, and much to the embarrassment of the authorities, the media began to expose severe social and economic problems the Soviet government had long denied and actively concealed. Problems receiving increased attention included poor housing, alcoholism, drug abuse, pollution, outdated Stalin-era factories, and petty to large-scale corruption, all of which the official media had ignored. Media reports also exposed crimes committed by Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
and the Soviet regime, such as the gulags, his treaty with Adolf Hitler, and the Great Purges, which had been ignored by the official media. Moreover, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and the mishandling of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, further damaged the credibility of the Soviet government at a time when dissatisfaction was increasing. In all, the positive view of Soviet lifelong presented to the public by the official media was rapidly fading, and the negative aspects of life in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
were brought into the spotlight.[17] This undermined the faith of the public in the Soviet system and eroded the Communist Party's social power base, threatening the identity and integrity of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
itself. Fraying amongst the members of the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
countries and instability of its western allies, first indicated by Lech Wałęsa's 1980 rise to leadership of the trade union Solidarity, accelerated, leaving the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
unable to depend upon its Eastern European satellite states for protection as a buffer zone. By 1989, Moscow had repudiated the Brezhnev Doctrine
Brezhnev Doctrine
in favor of non-intervention in the internal affairs of its Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
allies. Gradually, each of the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
countries saw their communist governments fall to popular elections and, in the case of Romania, a violent uprising. By 1990, the governments of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania, all of which had been imposed after World War II, were brought down as revolutions swept Eastern Europe. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
also began experiencing upheaval as the political consequences of glasnost reverberated throughout the country. Despite efforts at containment, the upheaval in Eastern Europe inevitably spread to nationalities within the USSR. In elections to the regional assemblies of the Soviet Union's constituent republics, nationalists as well as radical reformers swept the board. As Gorbachev had weakened the system of internal political repression, the ability of the USSR's central Moscow government to impose its will on the USSR's constituent republics had been largely undermined. Massive peaceful protests in the Baltic republics such as the Baltic Way
Baltic Way
and the Singing Revolution
Singing Revolution
drew international attention and bolstered independence movements in various other regions. The rise of nationalism under freedom of speech soon re-awakened simmering ethnic tensions in various Soviet republics, further discrediting the ideal of a unified Soviet people. One instance occurred in February 1988, when the government in Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly ethnic Armenian region in the Azerbaijan SSR, passed a resolution calling for unification with the Armenian SSR. Violence against local Azerbaijanis was reported on Soviet television, provoking massacres of Armenians in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait. Emboldened by the liberalized atmosphere of glasnost, public dissatisfaction with economic conditions was much more overt than ever before in the Soviet period. Although perestroika was considered bold in the context of Soviet history, Gorbachev's attempts at economic reform were not radical enough to restart the country's chronically sluggish economy in the late 1980s. The reforms made some inroads in decentralization, but Gorbachev and his team left intact most of the fundamental elements of the Stalinist system, including price controls, inconvertibility of the ruble, exclusion of private property ownership, and the government monopoly over most means of production. The value of all consumer goods manufactured in 1990 in retail prices was about 459 billion rubles ($2.1 trillion).[18] Nevertheless, the Soviet government had lost control over economic conditions. Government spending increased sharply as an increasing number of unprofitable enterprises required state support and consumer price subsidies to continue. Tax revenues declined as republic and local governments withheld tax revenues from the central government under the growing spirit of regional autonomy. The anti−alcohol campaign reduced tax revenues as well, which in 1982 accounted for about 12% of all state revenue. The elimination of central control over production decisions, especially in the consumer goods sector, led to the breakdown in traditional supplier−producer relationships without contributing to the formation of new ones. Thus, instead of streamlining the system, Gorbachev's decentralization caused new production bottlenecks. Dissolution of the USSR[edit] Main article: Dissolution of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
was a process of systematic disintegration, which occurred in the economy, social structure and political structure. It resulted in the abolition of the Soviet Federal Government ("the Union center") and independence of the USSR's republics on 25 December 1991. The process was caused by a weakening of the Soviet government, which led to disintegration and took place from about 19 January 1990 to 31 December 1991.[19] The process was characterized by many of the republics of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
declaring their independence and being recognized as sovereign nation-states. Andrei Grachev, the Deputy Head of the Intelligence Department of the Central Committee, summed up the denouement of the downfall quite cogently: "Gorbachev actually put the sort of final blow to the resistance of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
by killing the fear of the people. It was still that this country was governed and kept together, as a structure, as a government structure, by the fear from Stalinist times."[20] Summary[edit]

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The principal elements of the old Soviet political system were Communist Party dominance, the hierarchy of soviets, state socialism, and ethnic federalism. Gorbachev's programs of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) produced radical unforeseen effects that brought that system down.[21] As a means of reviving the Soviet state, Gorbachev repeatedly attempted to build a coalition of political leaders supportive of reform and created new arenas and bases of power. He implemented these measures because he wanted to resolve serious economic problems and political inertia that clearly threatened to put the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
into a state of long-term stagnation. But by using structural reforms to widen opportunities for leaders and popular movements in the union republics to gain influence, Gorbachev also made it possible for nationalist, orthodox communist, and populist forces to oppose his attempts to liberalize and revitalize Soviet communism. Although some of the new movements aspired to replace the Soviet system altogether with a liberal democratic one, others demanded independence for the national republics. Still others insisted on the restoration of the old Soviet ways. Ultimately, Gorbachev could not forge a compromise among these forces and the consequence was the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Post-Soviet restructuring[edit] Main article: History of Russia
History of Russia
(1992–present) To restructure the Soviet administrative command system and implement a transition to a market economy, Yeltsin's shock program was employed within days of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The subsidies to money-losing farms and industries were cut, price controls abolished, and the ruble moved towards convertibility. New opportunities for Yeltsin's circle and other entrepreneurs to seize former state property were created, thus restructuring the old state-owned economy within a few months. After obtaining power, the vast majority of "idealistic" reformers gained huge possessions of state property using their positions in the government and became business oligarchs in a manner that appeared antithetical to an emerging democracy. Existing institutions were conspicuously abandoned prior to the establishment of new legal structures of the market economy such as those governing private property, overseeing financial markets, and enforcing taxation. Market economists believed that the dismantling of the administrative command system in Russia would raise GDP and living standards by allocating resources more efficiently. They also thought the collapse would create new production possibilities by eliminating central planning, substituting a decentralized market system, eliminating huge macroeconomic and structural distortions through liberalization, and providing incentives through privatization. Since the USSR's collapse, Russia faced many problems that free market proponents in 1992 did not expect. Among other things, 25% of the population lived below the poverty line, life expectancy had fallen, birthrates were low, and the GDP was halved. There was a sharp increase in economic inequality: between 1988/1989 and 1993/1995, the Gini ratio
Gini ratio
increased by an average of 9 points for all former socialist countries.[22] These problems led to a series of crises in the 1990s, which nearly led to the election of Yeltsin's Communist challenger, Gennady Zyuganov, in the 1996 presidential election. In recent years, the economy of Russia has begun to improve greatly, due to major investments and business development and also due to high prices of natural resources. See also[edit]

Cold War
Cold War
(1985–91) Predictions of the dissolution of the Soviet Union Reagan Doctrine Revolutions of 1989
Revolutions of 1989
(Eastern Europe)


^ WorldBook online ^ Gaidar, Yegor (****-**-**). "The Soviet Collapse: Grain and Oil". On the Issues: AEI online. American Enterprise Institute. Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-09.  Check date values in: date= (help) (Edited version of a speech given November **, **** at the American Enterprise Institute.) ^ Honecker's West German Visit: Divided Meaning, New York Times, 7 September 1987 ^ Tamarov, Vladislav (1992). Afghanistan: Soviet Vietnam. Mercury House. ISBN 1-56279-021-8.  ^ Carter, Jimmy. "State of the Union Address, 1980". Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. Retrieved 12 July 2010.  ^ Dale, Reginald (17 June 1994). "Many Can Learn From Soviet Downfall". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 December 2011.  ^ Brzezinski and the Afghan War Pt2. 15 January 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2016 – via YouTube.  ^ S. Frederick Starriditor=S. Frederick Starr (2004). [/books?id=GXj4a3gss8wC&pg=PA158#v=onepage&q&f=false Xinjiang: China's Muslim Borderland] (illustrated ed.). M.E. Sharpe. p. 158. ISBN 0765613182 ^ "Die neuesten Studien im Internet". Die neuesten Studien im Internet. Retrieved 7 May 2016.  ^ "The Collapse of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and Ronald Reagan". Retrieved 2010-08-01.  ^ Petrostate: Putin, power, and the New Russia. Oxford University Press. 2008. p. 49. ISBN 0-19-534073-6.  ^ "Sadat and Nasser". Archived from the original on 4 November 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2010.  ^ Voprosy Ekonomiki (Moscow), no. 2 (1988), p. 79. ^ Herrera, Yoshiko M. (2007-03-26). Imagined Economies: The Sources of Russian Regionalism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521534734.  ^ Российская история Персонажи Горбачев Михаил Сергеевич Archived 27 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine. ^ "Отмена 6-й статьи Конституции СССР о руководящей роли КПСС. Справка". RIA Novosti. 14 March 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.  ^ Acton, Edward,, (1995) Russia, The Tsarist and Soviet Legacy, Longmann Group Ltd (1995) ISBN 0-582-08922-0 ^ "The Former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in Transition". Retrieved 7 May 2016.  ^ "Welcome -" (PDF). Retrieved 7 May 2016.  ^ "The Economic Collapse of the Soviet Union". Retrieved 7 May 2016.  ^ Russia at Encyclopædia Britannica ^ Scheidel, Walter (2017). The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-0691165028. 

Further reading[edit] Main article: List of primary and secondary sources on the Cold War

Hélène Carrère d'Encausse, The End of the Soviet Empire: The Triumph of the Nations, Basic Books, 1992, ISBN 0-465-09818-5 Gaidar, Yegor (19 April 2007). "The Soviet Collapse: Grain and Oil". AEI Online. Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2009.  Gaidar, Yegor (2006). Gibel' Imperii: Uroki dlya sovremennoi Rossii [The Collapse of an Empire: Lessons for Modern Russia].  Gaidar, Yegor Gaidar
Yegor Gaidar
(2007). Collapse of an Empire: Lessons for Modern Russia. Antonina W. Bouis (trans.). Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. ISBN 978-0-8157-3114-6.  Jack F. Matlock, Jr., Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador's Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union, Random House, 1995, ISBN 0-679-41376-6 David Remnick, Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire, Vintage Books, 1994, ISBN 0-679-75125-4 Ronald Grigor Suny, The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union, Stanford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-8047-2247-1 Anatoli Cherniaev, ‘Gorbachev’s Foreign Policy: The Concept’ in Skinner, Kiron (ed.) Turning Points in Ending the Cold War, (Hoover Institution Press: 2008), pp. 111–140, p. 111; [online] [accessed 22–23 February 2012]. Also for ‘new thinking’ see Ibid., p. 131.

External links[edit]

Reform, Coup and Collapse: The End of the Soviet State by Professor Archie Brown Soviet Archives collected by Vladimir Bukovsky End of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
from the Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Digital Archives Candid photos of the Eastern Bloc
Eastern Bloc
September–December 1991, in the last months of the USSR Kuliabin A. Semine S. Some of aspects of state national economy evolution in the system of the international economic order.- USSR ACADEMY OF SCIENCES FAR EAST DIVISION INSTITUTE FOR ECONOMIC & INTERNATIONAL OCEAN STUDIES Vladivostok, 1991 Making the History of 1989

v t e

Cold War

USA USSR ANZUS NATO Non-Aligned Movement SEATO Warsaw Pact Cold War
Cold War


Morgenthau Plan Hukbalahap Rebellion Dekemvriana Percentages Agreement Yalta Conference Guerrilla war in the Baltic states

Forest Brothers Operation Priboi Operation Jungle Occupation of the Baltic states

Cursed soldiers Operation Unthinkable Operation Downfall Potsdam Conference Gouzenko Affair Division of Korea Operation Masterdom Operation Beleaguer Operation Blacklist Forty Iran crisis of 1946 Greek Civil War Baruch Plan Corfu Channel incident Turkish Straits crisis Restatement of Policy on Germany First Indochina War Truman Doctrine Asian Relations Conference May 1947 Crises Marshall Plan Comecon 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état Tito–Stalin Split Berlin Blockade Western betrayal Iron Curtain Eastern Bloc Western Bloc Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
(Second round) Malayan Emergency Albanian Subversion


Papua conflict Bamboo Curtain Korean War McCarthyism Egyptian Revolution of 1952 1953 Iranian coup d'état Uprising of 1953 in East Germany Dirty War
Dirty War
(Mexico) Bricker Amendment 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état Partition of Vietnam Vietnam War First Taiwan Strait Crisis Geneva
Summit (1955) Bandung Conference Poznań 1956 protests Hungarian Revolution of 1956 Suez Crisis "We will bury you" Operation Gladio Arab Cold War

Syrian Crisis of 1957 1958 Lebanon crisis Iraqi 14 July Revolution

Sputnik crisis Second Taiwan Strait Crisis 1959 Tibetan uprising Cuban Revolution Kitchen Debate Sino-Soviet split


Congo Crisis 1960 U-2 incident Bay of Pigs Invasion 1960 Turkish coup d'état Soviet–Albanian split Berlin Crisis of 1961 Berlin Wall Portuguese Colonial War

Angolan War of Independence Guinea-Bissau War of Independence Mozambican War of Independence

Cuban Missile Crisis Sino-Indian War Communist insurgency in Sarawak Iraqi Ramadan Revolution Eritrean War of Independence Sand War North Yemen Civil War Aden Emergency 1963 Syrian coup d'état Vietnam War Shifta War Guatemalan Civil War Colombian conflict Nicaraguan Revolution 1964 Brazilian coup d'état Dominican Civil War South African Border War Transition to the New Order Domino theory ASEAN Declaration Laotian Civil War 1966 Syrian coup d'état Argentine Revolution Korean DMZ conflict Greek military junta of 1967–74 Years of Lead (Italy) USS Pueblo incident Six-Day War War of Attrition Dhofar Rebellion Al-Wadiah War Protests of 1968 French May Tlatelolco massacre Cultural Revolution Prague Spring 1968 Polish political crisis Communist insurgency in Malaysia Invasion of Czechoslovakia Iraqi Ba'athist Revolution Goulash Communism Sino-Soviet border conflict CPP–NPA–NDF rebellion Corrective Move


Détente Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Black September
Black September
in Jordan Corrective Movement (Syria) Cambodian Civil War Koza riot Realpolitik Ping-pong diplomacy Ugandan-Tanzanian War 1971 Turkish military memorandum Corrective Revolution (Egypt) Four Power Agreement on Berlin Bangladesh Liberation War 1972 Nixon visit to China North Yemen-South Yemen Border conflict of 1972 Yemenite War of 1972 NDF Rebellion Eritrean Civil Wars 1973 Chilean coup d'état Yom Kippur War 1973 oil crisis Carnation Revolution Spanish transition Metapolitefsi Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Rhodesian Bush War Angolan Civil War Mozambican Civil War Oromo conflict Ogaden War Ethiopian Civil War Lebanese Civil War Sino-Albanian split Cambodian–Vietnamese War Sino-Vietnamese War Operation Condor Dirty War
Dirty War
(Argentina) 1976 Argentine coup d'état Korean Air Lines Flight 902 Yemenite War of 1979 Grand Mosque seizure Iranian Revolution Saur Revolution New Jewel Movement 1979 Herat uprising Seven Days to the River Rhine Struggle against political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union


Soviet–Afghan War 1980 and 1984 Summer Olympics
1984 Summer Olympics
boycotts 1980 Turkish coup d'état Peruvian conflict Casamance conflict Ugandan Bush War Lord's Resistance Army insurgency Eritrean Civil Wars 1982 Ethiopian–Somali Border War Ndogboyosoi War United States
United States
invasion of Grenada Able Archer 83 Star Wars Iran–Iraq War Somali Rebellion 1986 Black Sea incident 1988 Black Sea bumping incident South Yemen Civil War Bougainville Civil War 8888 Uprising Solidarity

Soviet reaction

Contras Central American crisis RYAN Korean Air Lines Flight 007 People Power Revolution Glasnost Perestroika Nagorno-Karabakh
War Afghan Civil War United States
United States
invasion of Panama 1988 Polish strikes Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 Revolutions of 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall Velvet Revolution Romanian Revolution Peaceful Revolution Die Wende


Mongolian Revolution of 1990 German reunification Yemeni unification Fall of communism in Albania Breakup of Yugoslavia Dissolution of the Soviet Union Dissolution of Czechoslovakia

Frozen conflicts

Abkhazia China-Taiwan Korea Nagorno-Karabakh South Ossetia Transnistria Sino-Indian border dispute North Borneo dispute

Foreign policy

Truman Doctrine Containment Eisenhower Doctrine Domino theory Hallstein Doctrine Kennedy Doctrine Peaceful coexistence Ostpolitik Johnson Doctrine Brezhnev Doctrine Nixon Doctrine Ulbricht Doctrine Carter Doctrine Reagan Doctrine Rollback Sovereignty of Puerto Rico during the Cold War



Chicago school Keynesianism Monetarism Neoclassical economics Reaganomics Supply-side economics Thatcherism


Marxism–Leninism Castroism Eurocommunism Guevarism Hoxhaism Juche Maoism Trotskyism Naxalism Stalinism Titoism


Fascism Islamism Liberal democracy Social democracy Third-Worldism White supremacy Apartheid


ASEAN CIA Comecon EEC KGB MI6 Non-Aligned Movement SAARC Safari Club Stasi


Active measures Crusade for Freedom Izvestia Pravda Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Red Scare TASS Voice of America Voice of Russia


Arms race Nuclear arms race Space Race

See also

Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War Soviet espionage in the United States Soviet Union– United States
United States
relations USSR–USA summits Russian espionage in the United States American espionage in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and Russian Federation Russia– NATO
relations Brinkmanship CIA and the Cultural Cold War Cold War
Cold War

Category Commons Portal Timeline List of conflicts

v t e

Politics of the Soviet Union
Politics of the Soviet Union

Events (1964–1982)

Collective leadership Glassboro Summit Conference Six Day War Prague Spring Invasion of Czechoslovakia 1968 Red Square demonstration Brezhnev Doctrine Brezhnev assassination attempt Sino-Soviet border conflict Détente 1973 oil crisis Fall of Saigon Vladivostok Summit Helsinki Accords 1977 Moscow bombings 1977 Soviet Constitution 1978 Georgian demonstrations Cambodian–Vietnamese War Soviet–Afghan War 1980 Summer Olympics Reaction to 1980–1981 Polish crisis Exercise Zapad Death and state funeral of Leonid Brezhnev Legacy of Leonid Brezhnev

Events (1982–1985)

RYAN Korean Air Lines Flight 007 1983 false nuclear alarm incident Able Archer 83 1984 Summer Olympics
1984 Summer Olympics
boycott Friendship Games

Politburo members

22nd 23rd 24th 25th 26th

Aliyev Andropov Brezhnev Chebrikov Chernenko Demichev Dolgikh Efremov Gorbachev Grechko Grishin Gromyko Kirilenko Kiselyov Kunayev Kosygin Kulakov Kuznetsov Masherov Mazurov Mikoyan Mzhavanadze Pelše Podgorny Polyansky Ponomarev Rashidov Romanov Shcherbytsky Shelepin Shelest Shevardnadze Shvernik Solomentsev Suslov Tikhonov Ustinov Voronov Vorotnikov


The Troika (Brezhnev Kosygin Podgorny) Yuri Andropov Konstantin Chernenko


Kosygin's 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Tikhonov's 1st 2nd

National economy


OGAS 1965 1973 1979 Food Programme 1984

Five-year plans

8th plan 9th plan 10th plan 11th plan

Brezhnev's family

Churbanov (son-in-law) Galina (daughter) Lyubov (niece) Viktoria (wife) Yakov (brother) Yuri (son)

Soviet Union
Soviet Union

v t e

Countries of Eastern and Central Europe during their Communist period

Albania Bulgaria Czechoslovakia East Germany Hungary Poland Romania Yugoslavia

Soviet Russia / Soviet Union: 1917–27 1927–53 1953–64 1964–82 1982–91

Byelorussia Ukraine

Eastern Bloc Warsaw Pact Comecon

v t e

Revolutions of 1989

Internal background

Era of Stagnation Communism Anti-communism Criticism of communist party rule Eastern Bloc Eastern Bloc
Eastern Bloc
economies Eastern Bloc
Eastern Bloc
politics Eastern Bloc
Eastern Bloc
media and propaganda Eastern Bloc
Eastern Bloc
emigration and defection KGB Nomenklatura Shortage economy Totalitarianism Eastern European anti-Communist insurgencies

International background

Active measures Cold War List of socialist states People Power Revolution Predictions of the dissolution of the Soviet Union Reagan Doctrine Soviet Empire Terrorism and the Soviet Union Vatican Opposition Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
invasion of Czechoslovakia


Uskoreniye Perestroika

Democratization in the Soviet Union Khozraschyot 500 Days Sinatra Doctrine

Glasnost Socialism with Chinese characteristics Đổi mới

Government leaders

Ramiz Alia Nicolae Ceaușescu Mikhail Gorbachev Károly Grósz Erich Honecker János Kádár Miloš Jakeš Egon Krenz Wojciech Jaruzelski Slobodan Milošević Mathieu Kérékou Mengistu Haile Mariam Ne Win Denis Sassou Nguesso Heng Samrin Deng Xiaoping Todor Zhivkov Siad Barre

Opposition methods

Civil resistance Demonstrations Human chains Magnitizdat Polish underground press Protests Samizdat Strike action

Opposition leaders

Lech Wałęsa Václav Havel Alexander Dubček Ion Iliescu Liu Gang Wu'erkaixi Chai Ling Wang Dan Feng Congde Tank Man Joachim Gauck Sali Berisha Sanjaasürengiin Zorig Vladimir Bukovsky Boris Yeltsin Viacheslav Chornovil Vytautas Landsbergis Zianon Pazniak Zhelyu Zhelev Aung San Suu Kyi Meles Zenawi Isaias Afwerki Ronald Reagan George H. W. Bush Pope John Paul II

Opposition movements

Beijing Students' Autonomous Federation Charter 77 New Forum Civic Forum Democratic Party of Albania Democratic Russia Initiative for Peace and Human Rights Sąjūdis Peaceful Revolution People's Movement of Ukraine Solidarity Popular Front of Latvia Popular Front of Estonia Public Against Violence Belarusian Popular Front National League for Democracy National Salvation Front Unification Church political activities Union of Democratic Forces

Events by location

Central and Eastern Europe

Albania Bulgaria Czechoslovakia East Germany Hungary Poland Romania Soviet Union Yugoslavia

Soviet Union

Armenia Azerbaijan Belarus Chechnya Estonia Georgia Latvia Lithuania Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Moldova Russia Tajikstan Turkmenistan Ukraine Uzbekistan


Afghanistan Angola Benin Burma Cambodia China Congo-Brazzaville Ethiopia Mongolia Mozambique Somalia South Yemen

Individual events

1988 Polish strikes April 9 tragedy Black January Baltic Way 1987–89 Tibetan unrest Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 Removal of Hungary's border fence with Austria Polish Round Table Agreement Hungarian Round Table Talks Pan-European Picnic Monday Demonstrations Alexanderplatz demonstration Malta Summit German reunification January Events in Lithuania January Events in Latvia 1991 protests in Belgrade August Coup Dissolution of the Soviet Union

Later events

Colour revolution Decommunization Lustration Democratization Economic liberalization Post-Soviet conflicts Neo-Sovietism Neo-Stalinism Post-communism Yugoslav Wars

v t e

Eastern Bloc

Soviet Union Communism


Secret Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
protocol Soviet invasion of Poland Soviet occupations

Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina Baltic states Hungary Romania

Yalta Conference

Annexed as, or into, SSRs

Eastern Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Memel East Prussia West Belarus Western Ukraine Moldavia

Satellite states

Hungarian People's Republic Polish People's Republic Czechoslovak Socialist Republic Socialist Republic of Romania German Democratic Republic People's Republic of Albania (to 1961) People's Republic of Bulgaria Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (to 1948)

Annexing SSRs

Russian SFSR Ukrainian SSR Byelorussian SSR


Cominform COMECON Warsaw Pact World Federation of Trade Unions
World Federation of Trade Unions
(WFTU) World Federation of Democratic Youth
World Federation of Democratic Youth

Revolts and opposition

Welles Declaration Goryani
Movement Forest Brothers Ukrainian Insurgent Army Operation Jungle Baltic state continuity Baltic Legations (1940–1991) Cursed soldiers Rebellion of Cazin 1950 1953 uprising in Plzeň 1953 East German uprising 1956 Georgian demonstrations 1956 Poznań protests 1956 Hungarian Revolution Novocherkassk massacre 1965 Yerevan demonstrations Prague Spring
Prague Spring
/ Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
invasion of Czechoslovakia Brezhnev Doctrine 1968 Red Square demonstration 1968 student demonstrations in Belgrade 1968 protests in Kosovo 1970 Polish protests Croatian Spring 1972 unrest in Lithuania
1972 unrest in Lithuania
SSR June 1976 protests Solidarity / Soviet reaction / Martial law 1981 protests in Kosovo Reagan Doctrine Jeltoqsan Karabakh movement April 9 tragedy Romanian Revolution Black January

Cold War
Cold War

Marshall Plan Berlin Blockade Tito–Stalin split 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état 1961 Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall


Emigration and defection (list of defectors) Sovietization of the Baltic states Information dissemination Politics Economies Telephone tapping


Revolutions of 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall Romanian Revolution Fall of communism in Albania Singing Revolution Collapse of the Soviet Union Dissolution of Czechoslovakia January 1991 events in Lithuania January 1991 events in Latvia

Post- Cold War
Cold War

Baltic Assembly Collective Security Treaty Organization Commonwealth of Independent States Craiova Group European Union European migrant crisis Eurasian Economic Union NATO Post-Soviet states Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Vi