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Disintegration of the USSR
April 3, 2006 14:30

On August 19-22, 1991, a group of high political and military officials from the USSR and the Communist party conservative leaders tried to seize power and stop the reforms. These actions became known as the August coup, the event that led to revolts in Moscow, Leningrad, and some other cities. Aimed at stopping the reforms, the coup only proved that the USSR was definitely heading towards disintegration.

On December 8, 1991, the leaders of Belarus, Ukraine, and the president of the Russian Soviet Republic, Yeltsin, announced the USSR dissolution and proclaimed the creation of a new union – the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Other former Soviet republics supported this decision. On December 26, 1991 the Soviet Union dissolution was officially acknowledged by the Soviet parliament, the Supreme Soviet. The USSR’s existence came to the end. The Russian State got an official name of the Russian Federation.

Boris Yeltsin

After Gorbachev’s resignation Boris Yeltsin became the president of the Russian Federation, which was the result of general elections of 1991. Being once reelected he stayed in the office up till 1999. Yeltsin set a course on democracy and market economy.

The 1990s can be characterized as very controversial years, when the economic revival was several times interrupted with economic and political crises. Liberalization of prices led towards money devaluation. Rapid inflation became a usual thing. Economic problems coupled with the growth of separatist tendencies among the republics of the Russian Federation.

A serious political crisis broke out in September 1993 when legislative Congress of the People’s Deputies and the president failed to reach an agreement concerning the constitutional reform. Yeltsin wanted to dissolve the Supreme Soviet and the Congress of the People’s Deputies. In response, parliament announced Yeltsin’s impeachment. The situation resulted in October armed conflict, when the opposition tried to seize Ostankino TV tower and the president supporters organized an assault of the headquarters of the Supreme Soviet, the White Hose. More than 100 people were killed. Yeltsin won the national support and started liquidation of old system of the Soviets. On December 12, 1993 a new Constitution was adopted stating the formation of the president republic with a new legislative body – the Federal Assembly composed of two chambers - the State Duma (lower chamber) and the Council of the Federation (upper chamber).

Another critical moment of Yeltsin’s presidency was connected with the war in Chechnya. To stop the republic’s separation the government sent the Federal Armed Forces to Chechnya in 1994. This was an invasion that provoked a long and exhausting war, in the course of which thousands of lives were lost. Only in 1996 the peace agreement was signed. However, the most urgent questions of this war remained unsolved, and in 1999 the second war in Chechnya started.

On international arena, the period of Yeltsin’s presidency was marked by further relations development and signing a wide range of agreements aimed at cooperation in both economic and political spheres.

On December 31, 1999, Yeltsin announced his resignation leaving Vladimir Putin as his successor. In the course of the presidential elections that took pace next year, Putin got more than 52% of votes, which made him a new president of the Russian Federation.

Tags: Russian history The USSR    

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