Little Bits of History

It Is Finished

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 25, 2011

Mikhail Gorbachev

December 25, 1991: The dissolution of the USSR is complete. Mikhail Gorbachev was elected General Secretary on March 11, 1985. The Soviet economy was stagnant and his primary goal during his time in power was to revive it. His first step was to try to reorganize the economy. But when he attempted to do that, he noticed it would be impossible without also upgrading the political and social structure. He began his reformation process on April 23 with changes in personnel. His sweeping changes were given the name of glasnost or perestroika.

The dissolution began with Gorbachev taking office and took over six years to establish fifteen separate Post-Soviet states from what was once the USSR. Direct elections were introduced and the ban on political parties was lifted. Even so, in March of 1991, a large majority of citizens voted to retain the Union. On December 22, 1991 the presidents of the Soviet republics of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus met secretly and agreed to dissolve the Soviet Union. All this took place after much dissention including an attempted military coup in August of 1991.

The fifteen states established is alphabetical order are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The largest and predominant area is Russia, which is by far the largest region of the former Union. Kazakhstan is the next largest in area. Armenia is the smallest new state, comprised of 11,484 square miles or slightly smaller than the state of Maryland. In comparison, Russia covers 6,592,800 square miles or almost twice the area of the US or China. It is the largest country in the world.

During the early hours of December 25, 1991, Gorbachev resigned from office and handed all powers over to Boris Yeltsin, who had received 57% of the votes on June 12, 1991. Later that night, the Soviet Union flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time. The next day, the Council of Republics formally recognized the dissolution of the USSR, done by and to itself. By the end of the year, the few Soviet institutions which had not given control to Russia previously were under its auspices or had ceased to function. Individual republics took over self government. A poll taken in 2006 indicated that 66% of Russians regretted the collapse of the USSR, while in 2005, half of those in the Ukraine also lamented the passing of the Union.

“I am a Communist, a convinced Communist! For some that may be a fantasy. But to me it is my main goal.”

“I believe, as Lenin said, that this revolutionary chaos may yet crystallize into new forms of life.”

“If not me, who? And if not now, when?”

“If what you have done yesterday still looks big to you, you haven’t done much today.” – all from Mikhail Gorbachev

Also on this day:

Mastodons – In 1801 the first complete mastodon skeleton was discovered.
Scone Stone – In 1950, the Stone of Scone was stolen.

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