The Collapse of the Soviet Union

Since the late 1980s, perestroika politics has been in a deep crisis. The reforms, which were often only partially implemented, led to growing economic difficulties, supply problems and social conflicts (including rising unemployment, increasing impoverishment, inflation), which led to mass protests and a massive loss of confidence in M. Gorbachev’s politics led. The nationality problems of the multi-ethnic state, which had been suppressed for decades, erupted in a series of ethnically shaped population conflicts, some of which were similar to civil wars (e.g. since 1988 between Armenians and Azerbaijanis around the autonomous region of Nagorno-Karabakh, since 1989 between Georgians and the Abkhazians and the South Ossetians) and led, starting with the Baltic States, to the striving for independence of an increasing number of union republics.

In view of this situation, M. Gorbachev enforced the renunciation of the party’s monopoly on power in February 1990 in the Central Committee of the CPSU (removal of the claim to leadership from the constitution in March). M. Gorbachev (also chairman of the Supreme Soviet since 1988) tried to counter the incipient disintegration of the Union in the spring of 1990 by establishing the presidential system (M. Gorbachev’s election in March to the state president with far-reaching powers). The founding of various political parties was an expression of the advancing domestic political differentiation; In 1990 the movement »Democratic Russia«, which sees itself as a strict opposition force to the CPSU, emerged. The unilateral declarations of independence by the Baltic republics (Lithuania on March 11, Estonia on March 30 and Latvia on May 4, 1990) led to a serious conflict with the Union government (including an economic blockade against Lithuania, and violent military operations in Lithuania in January 1991 and Latvia).

In May 1990 the radical reformer BN Yeltsin was elected chairman of the Supreme Soviet (in June 1991 President) of the RSFSR, the largest Union republic, which declared its sovereignty within the Soviet Union in June 1990. M. Gorbachev’s policy of balancing radical reformers and conservative forces brought him increasingly into conflict with both groups, which were on the XXVIII. and the last party congress of the CPSU in July 1990 led to hard disputes, but confirmed him as general secretary of the party. The loss of power and prestige of the CPSU led to mass withdrawals from the party (including popular politicians such as BN Yeltsin, and Shevardnadze in 1991). In the wake of the tense domestic political situation, M. Gorbachev expanded his presidential power in December 1990 (constitutional amendment to reorganize executive power) and, under pressure from orthodox party circles, added more conservative forces to the government team (Vice PresidentG. I. Janajew, Interior Minister B. K. Pugo). Foreign Minister E. Shevardnadze , who surprisingly resigned on December 20, 1990 out of “protest against the approaching dictatorship”, was replaced in January 1991 by A. A. Bessmertnych. The successor to Prime Minister N. I. Ryschkow (1985-91), who had failed due to the economic reforms, was the previous Minister of Finance W. S. Pavlov. By December 1990, all 15 Union republics had declared themselves sovereign. In order to prevent the union from breaking up completely, M. Gorbachev held out the prospect of a new union treaty and initiated a referendum on March 17, 1991 on the continued existence of the Soviet Union as a “federation of sovereign republics with equal rights,” for which 76% of those involved voted (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia did not participate). In return, referendums in the three Baltic republics (February and March 1991) resulted in clear majorities in favor of their independence. On July 1, 1991, the Soviet Parliament passed a law on the privatization of state-owned companies. In order to reform the CPSU, submitted M. Gorbachev presented the Central Committee to the Central Committee with a draft of a new party program with social democratic features in July 1991.

With the dissolution of the Comecon and the Warsaw Pact in 1991, the Soviet Union lost the alliance systems it had previously dominated. After initial hesitation, the Soviet Union agreed to the restoration of German unity in the 1990 two-plus-four talks. In November 1990 she signed a new basic agreement with Germany. The START treaty was signed at the Soviet-American summit in Moscow in July 1991.

A coup by conservative communist politicians and the military who on August 19, 1991 (one day before the planned conclusion of a new union treaty) formed an “emergency committee” chaired by Vice President GI Janayev, declared a state of emergency and arrested M. Gorbachev in the Crimea, failed on August 21st. a. in the resistance of democratic forces in Russia, according to thereligionfaqs, at the head of which is the Russian President BN Yeltsin the disagreement of the army, which partly joined the protest movement, and the diplomatic boycott of Western countries. The Baltic republics, in which troops were deployed during the coup d’état, immediately enforced their full independence after its failure. The leading putschists (in addition to GI Janajew and others KGB chief W. A. ​​Kryuchkov, Defense Minister D. T. Yasov, Prime Minister WS Pavlov) were dismissed from their offices and arrested. After his return (August 22, 1991), M. Gorbachev, who was formally reinstated as President, but now politically patronized by Russian President BN Yeltsin resigned from the office of General Secretary of the CPSU on August 24, 1991; the party was banned from any further activity because of its involvement in the coup. The fundamental restructuring of the state organs in September 1991 (constitution of a parliament consisting of two independent chambers, the Council of the Republics and the Council of the Union, a State Council led by the President and an inter-republican economic committee) eliminated the previous central power structures and transferred the republics, of most of whom had proclaimed their independence after the coup, had extensive powers.

All subsequent attempts by M. Gorbachev to maintain the Union were unsuccessful. At the end of November 1991 the State Bank of the Soviet Union stopped its payments due to a lack of liquidity. On December 8th, 1991 Russia, together with the other two Slavic republics Belarus and Ukraine, founded a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as a loose confederation of states. The accession of eight other republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) on December 21, 1991 in Alma-Ata effectively ended the existence of the Soviet Union (resignation of President M. Gorbachev on December 25, 1991).

The Collapse of the Soviet Union