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1991 - Collapse of Soviet Union

History0x_1991_Collapse of USSR_min.JPG

Title: 1991 - Collapse of Soviet Union


About: A military coup against President Gobachev was unsuccessful, but the writing was on the wall. Representatives from the various Soviet republics announced they will no longer be part of the Soviet Union, bringing a peaceful end to a long, terrifying and sometimes bloody epoch in world history. 

The disintegration of the Soviet Union began on the peripheries, in the non-Russian areas. The first region to produce mass, organized dissent was the Baltic region, where, in 1987, the government of Estonia demanded autonomy. This move was later followed by similar moves in Lithuania and Latvia. Once this “Pandora’s box” had been opened, nationalist movements emerged in Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, and the Central Asian republics. The power of the Central Government was considerably weakened by these movements; they could no longer rely on the cooperation of Government figures in the republics.

Finally, the situation exploded in August 1991. In a last-ditch effort to save the Soviet Union, which was floundering under the impact of the political movements which had emerged since the implementation of Gorbachev’s glasnost, a group of “hard-line” Communists organized a coup. They kidnapped Gorbachev and announced on state television that Gorbachev was very ill and would no longer be able to govern.


The country went into an uproar. Massive protests were staged in Moscow, Leningrad, and many of other major cities. When the coup organizers tried to bring in the military to subdue the protesters, the soldiers themselves rebelled, saying that they could not fire on their fellow countrymen. After three days of massive protest, the coup organizers surrendered, realizing that without the cooperation of the military, they did not have the power to overcome the power of the entire population of the country.

After the failed coup attempt, it was only a few months until the Soviet Union completely collapsed. Both the government and the people realized that there was no way to turn back the clock; the massive demonstrations of the “August days” had demonstrated that the population would accept nothing less than democracy.


Gorbachev conceded power, realizing that he could no longer contain the will of the population. On December 25, 1991, he resigned. Later that month, the red flag bearing the hammer and sickle was lowered at the Kremlin for the last time. The USSR died quietly, 74 years after its founders had vowed communism would triumph across the world.

But the fifteen newly formed independent countries which emerged in its aftermath were faced with an overwhelming task. They had to develop their economies, reorganize their political systems, settle territorial disputes, and dismantle the legacies and monuments of communism.

Decade: 1990s

Year: 1991

Region: Europe

Country: USSR

Politics: Revolution

Type: Historical Event

Impact: 8

Artist: Ianika Moreno


Group: Genesis

Number: 91/100

Price: 0.8 ETH


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