Collapse of the USSR

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1991 Coup

  • Growing nationalism among the Republics so Gorby proposes a reformed union with greater independence
  • Food queues, strikes and unpaid wages in the USSR
  • Lithuania gains indpendence March 1991
  • The referedum is sent to the union, 76% said they would stay if it was reformed
  • June 1991 Yeltsin is elected as president of Russia, technically has more legitimacy than Gorby
  • The Treaty is to be signed 21st August so Gorby goes on holiday, but he was put under house arrest by hard liners on 18th and told to declare the state in emergency- he refuses
  • State of Emergency Committee set up and Yeltsin speaks out against the hardliners at the White House, encouraging the Moscovites to protest
  • 21st August conspirators arrested and Gorby returns, but he has lost reputation and resigns as head of the communist party
  • 26th December Russia and the Republics sign an argeement to end the USSR and it ceased to exist by 1st January 1992
  • Gorby was not told until after Bush :(
  • "With out him the rapid dissolution of the Soviet Union itself would not have occured"- Zubok
  • "One of the greats reformers in history...Gorbachev factor was the most crucial"- Archie Brown
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Russia under Yeltsin

  • Shock Therapy:
    • Rapid liberalisation, overnight removal of price controls and restrictions on currency trading and foreign trade which lead to hyper inflation
    • Privatisation of state assets, enterprise was not competitive, led to collapse and unemployment as old industries were forced to compete on the global market
    • Old elites and enterpreteurs became rich quickly- rise of the oligarchs
    • Those who were pensioners, dependant on welfare on on fixed pensions suffered
  • By 1993 39-49% of the population was in poverty (was 1.5% under communism)
  • Elderly found the new world confusing and difficlt
  • Decrease in the population and an increase in crime, alcholism and accidents
  • Medicine was now expensive so death rates increased 
  • However there was a supply of consumer goods
  • Yeltsin invaded Chechnya to reassert Russian control- a badly planned disaster
    • Between 3500-14,000 Russian miltary deaths, 200,000 injured, 500,000 displaced
    • A guerilla war that encouraged radical Islamics to come and help the Chechnyas (e.g. Taliban)
    • Corrupt military leader Dudyav
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1993 Crisis

  • Opponents of Yeltsin in parliament critised him and demanded he resign
  • Yeltsin tried to dissolve his own parliament but they resisted declaring Rutskoi president instead, so Yeltsin beiseiged it with troops, 
  • Yeltsin erected barricades around the White House, shut off heating and cut telephone lines
  • Massive anti-Yeltsin protests and the communist party supported parliament
  • Yeltsin won and emerged as undisputed leader but the communists did better in the next elections
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  • Death of Tito in 1980 meant communism was no longer a unifying symbol for the different ethnicities in Yugoslavia
  • Collapse of communism in Eastern Europe further fanned the flames of nationalism
  • At the end of the Cold War it had a weak central state and ethnic groups at odds, huge economic problems with inflation at 300%
  • The PM Makovic introduced shock therapy which caused the only party for poltical unity to be associated with an unpopular policy
  • In 19991 Slovenia and Croatia declared independence and the Serbian leader Milosevic marched in with the Yugoslav army
  • Civil War broke out between Croats and Serb minority in Croatia
  • Milosevic wanted an 'ethnically pure' Greater Serbia so encouraged Serb Rebellion in Bosnia-Herzegovina- killed 100,000, displaced millions and destroyed cities
  • Horrendous events of 1995 when Bosnian Serb forces advanced on the safehaven of Srebrenica, killed the men (7000-8000 killed) and *****/abused the women
  • The West had to get involved in 1995 with the Dayton Peace Agreement which ended the war
  • NATO bombing of 1999 forced Milsevic to accept UN administration in Kosovo
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  • Peacefully disposed of the government in the Velvet Revolution and Havel became president
  • Coalition government in 1989- first free elections since 1946 and 95% voted
  • Seperated in two countries in 1992 due to growing nationalist tensions in parliament- Czech Republic and Slovakia- Slovakis has higher political stability
  • Relatively prosperous due to exports into the Western market and low debt that encouraged foreign investment
  • Consitant liberalisation led to the removal of 95% of price controls, low unemployment and a stable exchange rate
  • Gets a lot of income from tourists
  • Relations between the two states have been peaceful, religious tensions are not an issue
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  • Free market economy implemented in the East, but the economy was found to be worse than imagined by Kohl- especially since he had promised not to raise taxes 
  • Slow 'Eastern Recovery Programme' but put money into housing, services, agriculture etc.
  • Tax rises were required which caused discontent
  • Rise of neo-Nazi youth groups with the rise of unemployment, growing racism for asylum seekers
  • Sense of 'ostalgie' among Easterners for life in the GDR
  • Tensions between East and West, the 'wessis' calling the 'ossis' ungrateful. lazy etc.- especially in the older generations
  • They had very different values, still a 'wall in your head'
  • There was greater security from unemplyment, crime and homelessness but the Easterns still missed their full employment, cheap housing and low crime rates
  • Stasi tried to destroy as many classified documents as possible upon reunification- files that were not were later made avliable to GDR citizens- one lady found that 80 people had been spying on her
  • Memorial of 1000+ crosses erected of people who had died trying to cross Checkpoint Charlie (e.g. Peter Fetcher) but it was pulled down in 2005
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