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Collapse of the Soviet Union

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Michael Ungar

on 23 May 2018

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Transcript of Collapse of the Soviet Union

The Collapse
of the Soviet Union

As Eastern Europe gained freedom from Soviet control, various nationalities in the Soviet Union began to call for their own freedom.

Nationalist groups in Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldavia (now Moldova) demanded self-rule. The Muslim peoples of Soviet Central Asia called for religious freedom.

First challenge came from the
Baltic nations of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.

In March 1990, Lithuania declared its independence. To try to force it back into the
Soviet Union, Gorbachev ordered a blockade of the republic

January 1991 Soviet troops attacked unarmed civilians in Lithuania’s capital. The army killed 14 and wounded more than 150

Nationalist Movements, Protests and Demonstrations
August 1980; Gdansk, Poland
17,000 workers seized control of the Lenin Shipyard to protest a recent rise in food prices
led by Lech Walesa
Walesa and Poland's first deputy prime minister, Jagielski, signed a deal granting the workers their demands
the right to organize freely and to strike
First time that any Communist government had put those rights into practice - this opening led to the collapse of the first communist gov't in Eastern Europe.
Key factors:
Aided financially by US trade unions
moral support from the Pope
Gorbachev's relaxation of Soviet control
June 1989- Poland's first free elections in communist bloc

Political Impacts
Economic Impacts
Social Impacts
The Malta Summit
The Malta Summit in 1989 was so important, that if it had not taken place, the world out there would be unrecognizable to the one we live in today" -Mikhail Gorbachev
control economy
free market
was a difficult transition
Industrial production declined severely, inflation rates soared, and poverty increased significantly.
All the countries of the former USSR faced a post-Soviet economic depression, UN reports claim that the percent of poor increased from 3 per cent to 25 per cent of the population (approximately 7 million to 88 million people).
Goldman, M. (1997). Revolution and Change in Central and Eastern Europe;
Political, Economic and Social Challenges. Armonk, New York: M.E.

December 2-3, 1989
US President George Bush and General Secretary of the Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev met on Soviet cruise ship ‘Maxim Gorky’
When communist governments in Eastern Europe were collapsing.
It followed a series of arms reduction treaties
An opportunity to discuss the rapid changes taking place in Europe with the lifting of the Iron Curtain
Gorbachev announces “I assured the President of the United States that I will never start a hot war against the USA. The world is leaving one epoch and entering another. We are at the beginning of a long road to a lasting, peaceful era. The threat of force, mistrust, psychological and ideological struggle should all be things of the past”
Bush and Gorbachev would declare an end to the Cold War
Drumea, Dumitru. "The New Federalist, Webzine of the Young European
Federalist." The New Federalist, Webzine of the Young European
Federalist. JEF, 6 May 2008. Web. 02 June 2013.
Ellman, Michael. "The Social Costs and Consequences of the Transformation
Process." United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. 18 Oct. 2003

“I want to ask you for forgiveness, because many of our dreams have not been realized, because what we thought would be easy turned out to be painfully difficult. I ask for forgiveness for not fulfilling some hopes of those people who believed that we would be able to jump from the grey, stagnating, totalitarian past into a bright, rich and civilized future in one go. I myself believed in this. It seemed that with one spurt we would overcome everything. But it could not be done in one fell swoop. In some respects I was too naive. Some of the problems were too complex. We struggled on through mistakes and failures. In this complicated time many people experienced shocks.”

B.N.Yeltsin, Russian President 1991-1999,
(resignation statement 31 December 1999)
Gitomirski, Sasha. "Glasnost and Perestroika." Cold War Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.

"1989: Malta Summit Ends Cold War." BBC News. BBC, 12 Mar. 1989. Web. 02 June 2013.

Blanton, Thomas. "Bush and Gorbachev at Malta." The National Security Archive. George Washington University, 03 Dec. 2009. Web. 27 May 2013.

Donovan, Jeffrey. "Poland: Solidarity - The Trade Union That Changed the World." Radio Free Europe Liberty Free. N.p., 24 Aug. 2005. Web. 27 May 2013.

Shevardnadze, Aduard. "Europa Publishing" Remembering The Fall of the Iron Curtain, n.d. Web. 02 June 2013 "europublish.ru"

Cook, Jane. "Why Did the Berlin Wall Fall 22 Years Ago?" Fox News. FOX News Network, 09 Nov. 2011. Web. 02 June 2013. "http://www.foxnews.com".

Anklesaria, Swaminathan. "Twenty Years Later: Why the Berlin Wall Fell." Cato Institute. Times of India, 25 Oct. 2009. Web. 02 June 2013. "http://www.cato.org/".

Schmemann, Serge. "100,000 Protest in Leipzig In Largest Rally in Decades." The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 Oct. 1989. Web. 02 June 2013. "http://www.nytimes.com".

"10 Events Leading to the Fall of the Berlin Wall." Wellington. German Embassy Wellington, n.d. Web. 02 June 2013. "http://www.wellington.diplo.de"

According to official statistics, in the eight years 1992-1999 the population of the Russian Federation fell by 2.8 million or almost 2 per cent, and in 1999 alone by 785,000, or 0.5 per cent.
15 newly created states emerged
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)was founded on 8 December 1991 by the Republic of Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine. Later, 8 other members joined.
Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia opted to join NATO
There have been 6 regional wars, 20 short-term conflicts, and more than 100 non-armed ethnic conflicts. Some are still ongoing such as the one between Russia and Chechnya
A large number of ICBMs and nuclear arms were dispersed throughout the 15 states and needed to be collected and properly recycled.
According to the Transparency International’s 1999 Corruption Perception Index, 9 CIS countries were 'exceptionally corrupt'.
Public services deteriorated, ex) in Russia in early 1998 about 12.5 percent of school age children did not attend school.
Velvet Revolution
Diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis spread throughout CIS countries as a result of lower living standards.
Romanian Revolution
"Gentle" Revolution
Craig, A., Graham, W., Kagan, D., Ozment, S., & Turner, F. (2007). The
Heritage of World Civilizations. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey:
Pearson Prentice Hall

November 17 to December 29, 1989 - Czechoslovakia
November 17, riot police suppressed a student demonstration in Prague
Protests continued and grew
November 28-Due to the Collapse of other Warsaw Pact governments and increasing street protests, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced that it would relinquish power and dismantle the single-party state
June 1990, Czechoslovakia held its first democratic elections since 1946
Dubcek was elected
Gorbachev’s new thinking led him to urge Eastern European leaders to open up their economic and political systems. The aging Communist rulers of Eastern Europe resisted reform. However, powerful forces for democracy were building in those countries. In the past, the threat of Soviet intervention had kept those forces in check.

Now, Gorbachev was saying that the Soviet Union would not oppose reform. “Each people determines the future of its own country and chooses its own form of society . . .There must be no interference from outside, no matter what the pretext.”

What did this mean for Eastern Europe?

President Boris Yeltsin adopted a plan known as “shock therapy,” an abrupt shift to freemarket economics.
Yeltsin lowered trade barriers, removed price controls, and ended subsidies to state-owned industries
December 1989
Started in the city of Timisoara and spread throughout the country
in response to an attempt by the government to evict a dissident, Hungarian Reformed church pastor
The only one of the Warsaw Pact revolutions that forcibly overthrew a Communist government and executed the country's head of state
Military was sent to control the riots
Main reason for violence
The Revolution marked the end of the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu
Dictator of 24 years
Riots led the Romanian dictator to abandon power and flee Bucharest with his wife, Deputy Prime Minister Elena Ceauşescu.
Captured in Târgovişte, they were tried in a show trial
Found guilty of all charges, and immediately executed on Christmas Day 1989
The result: more shock than therapy. Prices soared; from 1992 to 1994, the inflation rate averaged 800 percent. Many factories dependent on government money had to cut production or shut down entirely.
Experts estimated that there were between 30,000 and 50,000 homeless children on the streets of Moscow. About half of these children were younger than 13.
Hovasse, Alain-Pierre. "20 Years Since The Fall of the Soviet Union." The
Atlantic. CDN EdgeCast Networks, 23 Dec. 2012. Web. 02 June 2013.

The Fall
Solidarity: An independent trade union movement in Poland that developed into a mass campaign for political change and inspired popular opposition to communist regimes across eastern Europe during the 1980s
Stable economy and currency with the aid of West Germany
East and West Berlin reunited into one city
Unstable economy, resulting in hyper-inflation and poverty
Unemployment in the former East Germany has fallen but remains far higher than in the West.
Many regional and ethnic wars, including an ongoing conflict with Chechnya
Vasagar, Jeevan. "How the Fall of the Berlin Wall May Have Raised
a Generation of Criminals." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media
Group, 4 Apr. 2013. Web. 2 June 2013.

Pro-capitalist reforms led to high rates of crime and corruption
"H-Net Reviews." H-Net Reviews. N.p., Sept. 2002. Web. 01 June 2013.

"Germany - SOCIETY." Germany - SOCIETY. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2013.

"A Short History of the Department of State." Office of the Historian. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2013.

Schneider, Susan. "Germany's Social Market Economy." Fnfeurope. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2013.

"History of Germany, 1945 to 1990." History of Germany, 1945 to 1990. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2013.

"Germany - SOCIETY." Germany - SOCIETY. Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 01 June 2013.

Ulbricht, Walter. "Part 6: Berlin and the Two Germanies." Part 6: Berlin and the Two Germanies. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2013.

"Comparisson of East and West Germany." Comparisson of East and West Germany. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 June 2013.

Rise of Mikhail Gorbachev
In 1978, Mikhail Gorbachev, age 47, and a successful manager of agricultural programs in a rural region, was appointed as the secretary of agriculture on the Central Committee in Moscow.

By 1980, he had become the youngest member of the Politburo (the executive committee of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union).

After General Sec'y Brezhnev’s death in 1982, the aging leadership of the Soviet Union tried to hold on to power. Each of Brezhnev’s two successors died after only about a year in office.
Who would succeed them?
Out with Old
In with the New
Gorbachev had been only a child during Stalin’s ruthless purge of independent-minded party members. Unlike other Soviet leaders, Gorbachev had not needed to blindly follow Stalin’s policies. He could pursue new ideas.
Gorbachev realized that economic and social reforms could not occur
without a free flow of ideas and information.

1985 -- introduces

Soviet citizens allowed & encouraged to discuss ways to improve their society.

Religious tolerance revived & churches opened.

Political critics ("dissidents") not arrested while others released from prison.

Banned books now permitted and freedom of the press expanded.
On March 11, 1985, Gorbachev became the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Time for Reform - the Soviet Union needed massive liberalization to revitalize the economy and society.
Economic Hardship
& Stagnation
Russians were relatively deprived of consumer goods that were taken for granted in the West.

Angry consumers protested that they had to stand in long lines to buy food, soap, and other basics (such as toilet paper!).

Gorbachev blamed inefficient system of central planning - party officials told farm & factory managers how much to produce.

Central govt set wages & prices

Since individuals could not increase their pay by producing more or better quality goods, they had little motive to improve efficiency or quality.
Economic Reform
In 1985, Gorbachev introduced the idea
(economic restructuring).

Local managers gained greater authority over their farms and factories, and people
were allowed to open small private businesses.

Gorbachev’s goal - preserve communism, but to make the system more efficient and productive.
Political Reform
1987 - introduces democratization - gradual opening of the political system.

Permits election of new legislative body. Citizen participation limited to approving candidates who were hand-picked by the Communist Party.
Now, citizens able to choose from a list of candidates including outsiders for each office. Many outsiders and reformers elected over party regulars.
Gorbachev recognized that defense expenditures - perhaps equivalent to 25% of the gross national product, was crippling the country. [US defense expenditures less than 5%]

Money for defense = cuts in education, social & health services & hurt the regime’s popularity.

Huge defense expenditures were one of the causes of Soviet economic decline.
Gorbachev sought to change Soviet foreign policy. He traveled abroad extensively and reduced tensions by declaring Soviets wanted peace & cooperation
The Arms Race & Cold War
Gorbachev’s new thinking led him to urge Eastern European leaders to open up their economic and political systems.
Powerful forces for democracy were building in those coun-
tries which had been held in check by the threat of Soviet intervention.
Gorbachev indicated that the Soviet Union would not oppose reform.

“Each people determines the future of its own country and chooses its own form of society,” he announced. “There must be no interference from outside, no matter what the pretext.”
Openness Extends to East Europe
Gorbachev proclaims a “new thinking” in foreign affairs that stressed
diplomacy over force

Arms control becomes a top priority (what is the dual benefit?)

1987: USSR & USA signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Banned nuclear missiles with ranges of 300 to 3,400 miles.
The Soviet Union will no longer take any military action to suppress people in their “Brother Countries”.

Travel was allowed between Soviet controlled countries

Hungary announced that it wanted to open its borders with Austria.
Shortly after, on August 19th, 1989, 600 East Berliners crossed the border between Hungary and Austria with no questions asked by the border police.

This opened A corridor between East Berlin and the West & people flooded this corridor.

On September 11th 1989, Hungary officially opened the borders with Austria - over 50 thousand people fled in the next three days.

On September 30, 1989 West Germany announced that there will be “Freedom Trains” that East Germans could take to get to West Berlin.
1000s of Germans fled

The physical significance of the wall was gone but the political meaning still stood out to the people.
Unrest in the Soviet Union
The End of Gorby & Rise of Boris
The bloody assault in Lithuania
and the lack of real economic progress in the Soviet Union damaged Gorbachev’s popularity.

Boris Yeltsin former mayor
of Moscow and parlmt member. criticized the crackdown in Lithuania and the slow
pace of reforms.

June 1991, voters overwhelmingly chose Yeltsin to become the Russian Republic’s first directly elected president.
Hard-liners—conservatives who opposed
reform—were furious at Gorbachev.

Soviet Union’s role as the dominant force in Eastern Europe was fading & feared losing their power and privileges.

Vowed to overthrow Gorbachev and undo his reforms.

On August 18, 1991, the hard-liners detained Gorbachev at his vacation home & demanded his resignation as Soviet president.

Hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles rolled
into Moscow. The hard-liners—the State Committee—assumed that a show of force would ensure obedience.

However, the Soviet people had lost their fear of the party. & willing to defend their freedoms. Protesters gathered at the Russian parliament building, where Yeltsin had his office.
Your moment of zen
On August 20, the State Committee ordered troops to attack the parliament, but they refused & next day the military withdrew from Moscow. Gorbachev returned to his offices and then resigned as general secretary of the party. The Soviet parliament voted to stop all party activities.

Live by the (successful) coup to die by the (failed) coup. Estonia and Latvia quickly declared their independence. & other republics soon followed. Although Gorbachev pleaded for unity, no one was listening. By early December, all 15 republics had declared independence.
Yeltsin met with the leaders of other republics to chart a new
course - agreed to form the Commonwealth of Independent
States, or CIS, a loose federation of former Soviet territories.

The formation of the CIS meant the death of the Soviet Union. On Christmas Day 1991, Gorbachev announced his resignation as president of the Soviet Union, a country that by then had ceased to exist.
6:00 Rise of Solidarity
4:20 Soviet Shopping
Full transcript