20th Century Russia
The Collapse of Communism
In the 1980s, many countries in the Eastern bloc (formed from the Warsaw Pact) began to reject communism. At the end of the decade, a wave of reforms and democratic revolutions led to the breakdown of the entire Soviet system. In East Germany, pressure form the people forced the old Stalinist government to step down and the new president agreed to hold free elections and on November 9, 1989, he gave orders for the demolition of the Berlin Wall, a long-time manifestation of the Iron Curtain. Soon after, talks began with West Germany which resulted in the unification of Germany on October 23, 1990.
Encouraged by the successful rejection of communist power in Poland, Hungary and East Germany, the other countries in the Eastern bloc overthrew their communist leaders. Then, on New Year’s Eve 1991, the USSR itself collapsed.
Since 1988, radical reformers such as Boris Yeltsin had begun to defeat leading communists. When countries in the Baltic such as Lithuania and Latvia began to make moves towards independence, Gorbachev, not wanting the USSR to break up completely, sent troops into these countries to take over parliament and the media. When this happened, prospects for further reform in the USSR looked dismal. Politicians and army leaders were divided between hard-liners who wanted to maintain the union of the USSR and reformers who wanted each state to be more independent. However, both sides criticised Gorbachev and Yeltsin, his main rival, was given more power by being elected president of the Russian Republic.
Continue Soviet coup d’etat