The fall of the USSR: key events –

How did a state as vast and powerful as the Soviet Union, made up of 15 republics, disintegrate so quickly? How did a Socialist Bloc with great political, economic, ideological and technological influence that influenced much of the 21st century cease to exist almost unexpectedly? It will be the topic of this post where we will explain the fall of the USSR, events and keys.

The collapse of this great nation was spectacular, so much so that many were perplexed and its aftershocks are still being felt today. The USSR was an empire that was born in 1917 under the Russian communist revolution and came to occupy a sixth of the territory of our planet and encompass more than 100 nationalities.

The birth of the socialist state and authoritarianism

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) it originates in 1917 when Tsar Nicholas II was defeated by the Bolshevik revolution, establishing a Socialist state in the territories that were part of the Russian Empire. It was in 1922 when the gigantic USSR was formed whose first marxist revolutionary it was Vladimir Lenin.

When the Soviet constitution was adopted and after a modification in the 70s, a parliament known as the Supreme Soviet was formed in which the regions and nationalities were established, but who was in charge of the decisions was the Communist Party.

An exacerbated bureaucracy

The centralization of the Soviet Union and authoritarianism led to an uncontrolled bureaucracy, which spread to all corners and in all aspects of life. For everything they requested documents, paperwork, stamps and notes. For a long time the Soviets managed to deal with this, but eventually it all turned into a big disaster.

A failed economic system

The tentacles of bureaucratism and centralization severely impacted its economic system. The base of the Soviet Union was under the precepts of Karl Marx, in the socialization of the means of production, exchange and distribution. This caused the economy was run by the calls five year plans whose productive activities were established by goals.

The labor force leaned mainly in industry and to a lesser extent in agriculture. Stalin focused on industrialization in sectors such as: oil, chemical, steel, mining, wood, automotive, food processing, electronics, aerospace, defense, and telecommunications.

Nevertheless, its economic hegemony was lost to the United States, because its GDP reached in the late 1980s half of what its Western rival achieved. It was already being seen that his economic policies were failing.

improvement of education

Over the years the education of the Soviets began to improve and millions of people were joining higher education. Although the State prevented its citizens from having contact with the outside world, many began to find out about the world around them. In this sense, professionals were becoming a significant and influential social group.

Gorbachev’s influence

The above factors contributed to the fall of the USSR, but were not the determining causes for its collapse. It was with the arrival of Gorbachev who transformed the Soviet system and ended up being his undertaker. In 1985 he was general secretary of the Communist party and introduced a set of significant reforms.

Gorbachev’s plan consisted of two key elements: Perestroika and Glasnost. The first was to ease the state’s control over the Soviet economy. Gorbachev had initiatives to promote private enterprise, thereby allowing business owners to emerge for the first time in 20 years. Also, it encouraged foreign investment in Soviet companies.

On the other hand, it promoted right to strike to demand better wages and the Labor conditions. Now, regarding to Glasnostconsisted of suppress the vices of Stalinist repressionfor instance, ban works by George Orwell and Alexander Solzhenitsynalso give them more freedom for citizens.

Among other things permitted by Gorbachev was the release of political prisonersthat the newspapers published articles critical of the government. In addition, they were able to participate for the first time in elections political groups other than the Communist Party.

The democratic initiatives were well received, but the reforms to the market economy took a long time to show their fruits. Soviet citizens were frustrated with Gorbachev’s policies, had price hikesendless lines to buy food and rationing.

By 1991 he faced strong opposition who tried to overthrow him, but this uprising failed thanks to the actions of Boris Yeltsin.

Fall of Gorbachev and the communist governments

One of Gorbachev’s intentions was to change the way international relations were dealt with. He was very clear that the world was more interdependent and that the Soviet economy depended a lot on the links it had with the rest of the world. In addition, he was aware that there were universal interests and values ​​that were above the division between East and West.

For these reasons, it was one of the reasons why Gorbachev abandoned the expensive arms race. But it was not only that, but withdrew Soviet troops from Afghanistanwho had been fighting since 1979. Also reduced military presence in Eastern Europe.

All these decisions led by Gorbachev led to the end of the Cold War and the governments related to the Soviet Union. This in turn unintentionally gave the Soviet Union the coup de grâce.

It was in 1989 when the first revolution took place in Poland, a trade union movement (that of Lech Valesa) managed to hold free elections. For the same year in Germany, the fall of the Berlin Wall occurred, which was the symbol that kept East-West divided. In Czechoslovakia the velvet revolution overthrew the communist government.

In Romania there was a violent uprising, the communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife were shot. All these events had a destabilizing effect on the USSR. arose independence movements motivated by Gorbachev’s non-interventionist policies.

The first states to break with Moscow were the Baltics: Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Subsequently, Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine were separated, thus creating the Commonwealth of Independent States. already to end of 1991 eight of the nine republics declared their independence. This is how what was once the super-powerful Soviet Union became extinct.

What do you know about Stalin? In the following post we tell you all about it: