Why did the Soviet Union Collapse?

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Events Leading to the Collapse of the Soviet Union

  • Although Gorbachev was respected for introducing reforms, in Russia, he was unpopular and members of the Communist Party thought 'Perestroika' and 'Glastnost' weakened communism and was introducing a more capitalist way of life.
  • On 19th August 1991, senior communist government officials, that became known as the Gang of Eight, organised a coup that would remove Gorbachev from power.
  • The new government declared a state of emergency and overturned 'Perestroika' and 'Glastnost' in a bid to return power to the Soviet Union and secure Communism.
  • Boris Yeltsin (the future Russian President) said the new government was illegal and encouraged people to rebel against it, defeating the coup.
  • 21st August 1991, Gorbachev returned to lead the USSR, however Yeltsin had become very popular and Gorbachev was tarnished by the coup.
  • Gorbachev announced a constitution that would give satellite states more freedom, but their leaders wanted total independence so they did not accept the constitution.
  • Gorbachev officially announced the dissolution of the Soviet Union and resigned on the 25th December 1991. The Cold War ended and only one superpower remained.
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Why did the Soviet Union Collapse?

1) Gorbachev's attitude to Eastern Europe ---> The Communist Party thought Gorbachev was introducing capitalism so they opposed him.

2) The economic state of the USSR ---> If the USSR had been financially stable, Gorbachev would not have introduced the Sinatra Doctrine and therefore there would be less reforms.

3) Opposition within the USSR ---> The Communist Party didn't agree with the reforms so they were plotting against him, making the Soviet Union unstable.

4) Demonstrations in Eastern Europe ---> The USSR was not financially stable enough to deal with the reforms in Eastern Europe so Gorbachev had to just give in to them.

5) Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan ---> The USSR didn't have any power in the Middle East so they had no access to the Persian Gulf and therefore they had no access to the oil that would rebuild their economy.

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