Soviet Union under Gorbachev (1985 - 1991) Perestroika
– goal of this was to stimulate economic growth and to make industry more efficient.
- results in higher inflation, food shortages, and medicine shortages
- period of openness that calls for an end to censorship and encourages people to
speak their minds
Breakup of the Soviet Union - 1991 – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania claim their independence then all Soviet republics followed suit ending the Soviet Union.
Challenges Ahead - 1991 – Boris Yeltsin becomes president and he works to ease hardships and continue the process of making Russia a free market
- 1999 – Vladimir Putin is elected making it the first time power has transferred peacefully in Russia
- 2002 – sign an arms reduction agreement and began to cooperate with NATO
- 1991 – Present – Russians battle with Chechnya as it attempts to become an independent nation.
The Collapse of Communism Cracks began to appear in the iron curtain by the mid-1980's. Movements in many of the satellite nations were calling for change. Most notably was the role played by Lech Walesa of Poland and his Solidarity movement. Under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union did make some attempts at reform and an easing of communist hard-line policies. Perestroika was a complete overhaul in the structure of the Soviet government and economy. Another reform policy, called Glasnost, was the creation of an open atmosphere in national and global affairs. Despite the efforts at change, the Soviet Union had already weakened to the point where it was not able to recover.
A major sign of this was its loss of control of East Germany. In 1989, the Berlin Wall was literally torn apart by the citizens of both East and West Berlin. The fall of the wall and the reunification of Germany was one of the most dramatic episodes in 20th century history.
By the end of the 1980's, Gorbachev was blamed for the decline of the Soviet Union. In an attempt to regain power, he began reversing some of his reforms, and attempted to return to hard-line communism. His biggest critic, Boris Yeltsin, called on the nationalistic pride of Russians and demanded Gorbachev's resignation.
Following Yeltsin's lead, many of the satellite states called for independence. Gorbachev was close to giving in, which terrified conservative communists still in the government. These hard-liners attempted a military coup d'état in 1991, but failed after a total lack of support on the part of the military and the public. Yeltsin saw this as his opportunity and denounced the leaders of the coup in what is known as the Russian Revolution of 1991.
Yeltsin went on to declare Russia an independent state. The authority of the Soviet Union was discarded, and communism came to an abrupt end in Eastern Europe. Yeltsin was elected president of the newly formed Commonwealth of Independent States, which included Russia and many of the former republics of the Soviet Union.