The Collapse of the Soviet Union

Democratic reforms brought changes to the Soviet Union

Gorbachev Moves Toward Democracy

  • Leonid Brezhnev (Soviet Premier) and the Politburo (the ruling committee of the Communist Party) crushed all political disagreement

  • By censoring what was published and restricted freedom of speech and worship

  • The leadership of the Soviet Union was in jeopardy after Brezhnev died in 1982

A Young Leader

  • The Politburo had to choose between two men on who would be the new successor

  • One was Mikhail Gorbachev who was praised for his youth, energy, and political skills

  • He was named General Secretary at the age of 54 which was the youngest leader since Stalin’s reign

  • Instead of following with the Party’s ideas Gorbachev chose to pursue new ideas

Glasnost Promotes Openness

  • Gorbachev recognized the problems with having a totalitarian state in the past so instead he announced a policy called Glasnost in 1985

  • The policy meaning openness brought many new changes

  • Churches were now allowed to be open, dissidents were released from prison, books that authors were previously banned were now publicized, and reporters looked into issues and criticized officials

Reforming the Economy and Politics

Economic Restructuring

  • Party officials told farm and factory managers how much to produce, what wages to pay, and what prices to charge

  • individuals had little motive to improve efficiency because they couldn't increase their pay by producing more

  • Perestroika, or economic restructuring, was introduced by Gorbachev in 1985

  • He made changes in 1986 so local managers gained greater authority over their farms and factories, and people were allowed to open small businesses

  • Gorbachev wanted to make the economic system more efficient and productive, not throw out communism

Democratization Opens the Political System

  • to improve the economy more he unveiled a third policy called democratization in 1987

  • this called for the election of a new legislative body where voters could choose from a list of candidates for each office

  • In several places, voters chose lesser-known candidates and reformers over powerful party bosses

Foreign Policy

  • Costing more than $2 trillion dollars, President Ronald Reagan begun the most expensive military buildup in peacetime history

  • With pressure from the U.S. spending, Gorbachev realized that the Soviet economy could not afford the costly arms race

  • Reagan and Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in December, 1987 which banned nuclear missiles with ranges of 300 to 3,400 miles

The Soviet Unions Faces Turmoil

  • Political reforms started building in the Soviet Union because of Gorbachev's new thinking

  • The traditional system was trying to be changed by reforms like Glasnost, Perestroika, and Democratization

  • Different ethnic groups in the Soviet Union began to rise up and demand freedom which caused tension between one another

  • Reforms started weakening the government’s control

  • This unrest caused Nationalist groups in places like Georgia and Ukraine to demand self-rule and Muslims called for religious freedom

Lithuania Defies Gorbachev

  • Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia were the first nations to challenge the Soviet Union.

  • These states were annexed by the Soviet Union 1940 but, were independent between both World Wars

  • Gorbachev ordered an economic blockade in Lithuania when they declared independence from the Soviet Union in March 1990

  • Hundreds of people were wounded and 14 were killed after Gorbachev sent troops to attack innocent people because he was fearful that the uprising could encourage other republics to secede

Yeltsin Denounces Gorbachev

  • People started looking towards a man named Boris Yeltsin for leadership once Gorbachev showed lack of economic progress and the attacks in Lithuania

  • Yeltsin was the former mayor of Moscow and a member of parliament

  • Because he sided with the people, bashed the attacks in Lithuania and slow pace of reforms Yeltsin was directly elected to be president in 1991

  • The Communist officials soon became upset that Gorbachev’s plans were weakening the Soviet Union’s dominance so they vowed to overthrow him and throw out his reforms

The August Coup

  • On August 18, 1991 the officials acted on their vow by detaining Gorbachev at his vacation home and making him resign from presidency.

  • A day later people gathered outside of Yeltsin's office protesting after the gov't sent armored vehicles into Moscow forcing the people to lose their freedom

  • At around noon Yeltsin came out and declared that all of the committee’s decrees were thereby illegal and that everything would go back to normal

  • The Communist officials ordered troops to attack the parliament building but they refused so it failed

End of the Soviet Union

  • The Communist Party was furious at the failed attempted coup and the party collapsed

  • Gorbachev resigned his secretary position and Estonia and Latvia quickly declared independence and others followed so by December all 15 republics declared independence

  • Yeltsin then met with the leaders from other republics and they formed a federation for former Soviet territories called the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

  • The Baltic republics and Georgia declined this offer

  • The Soviet Union now fell but Gorbachev still announced his resignation from being the Soviet Union’s President in 1991 on Christmas Day

Russia Under Boris Yeltsin

Yeltsin Faces Problems

  • Adopted a plan known as “shock therapy” which is abrupt shift to free-market economics

  • He removed price controls, lowered trade barriers, and ended subsidies to state-owned industries

  • Prices rose from 1992 to 1994 and the inflation rate averaged 800 percent

  • Many factories had to cut production or shut down completely because they depended on government money

  • Legislators opposed to Yeltsin’s policies shut themselves inside the parliament building in October,1991

  • He ordered troops to bombard the building and forced hundreds of rebel legislators to surrender

Chechnya Rebels

  • War broke out with Chechnya a largely Muslim area located in southwestern Russia

  • They declared their independence but it was denied by Yeltsin in 1991

  • 3 years later Russians were angered after 40,000 troops turned Grozny, the capital of Chechnya into ruins

  • In 1996 the 2 sides signed a ceasefire and Yeltsin won the reelection

  • Not long after war broke out again, Yeltsin stepped down and Putin became president

Russia Under Vladimir Putin

  • Putin won the election in 2000

  • By dealing with the rebellion in Chechnya

Troubles Continue in Chechnya

  • In 2002 Russia stated that the war in Chechnya would soon be over

  • Although Russia was known for not keeping their word, Kremlin promised that he would start taking some of the 80,000 troops out of Chechnya

  • Chechen rebels took control of a theater in Moscow killing more than 150 people even with the rescue attempt by the Russians

Economic, Political, and Social Problems

  • Russia’s democracy was questioned because of their continuing economic problems

  • A social distribution was caused in Russia by the 1992-2002 changes and reform

  • Out of the 30,000-50,000 homeless children in Moscow half of them were under 13

  • Experienced high rates of domestic violence and unemployment

  • While population, standard of living, and average life expectancy decreased

  • Putin favored a market economy, but adapted to Russia’s situations

  • Not only Russia, but Central and Eastern Europe was impacted by these events

The Cold War: Crash Course US History #37
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By: Hailey, Sheree, and Natalie