Communist Russia: Fall of the USSR

What did Gorbachev do to the politburo in 1985?
Key reformers were brought in to the politburo to try and make the government more flexible for reform. Yeltsin was promoted to the Central Committee to make it more understanding and less hesitant to change
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What did Gorbachev battle in 1985?
Corruption, from his mentor Andropov
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What was the problem with alcohol in Russia?
By the mid 1980's, 15% of household spending was on alcohol and this had a detrimental effect on work productivity.
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What was Gorbachev's saying about alcohol?
"We can't build communism on vodka!'
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What did Gorbachev do to battle corruption?
The legal age for drinking was raised to 21, there was a limit on the amount of alcohol one could buy and one could sell, vineyards were destroyed, the cost of vodka tripled
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What was the effect of the clampdown on alcohol?
Illegal moonshine was created, the tax revenues from alcohol were needed to for governmental funding and created a loss of revenue
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What were the aims of the 12th Five Year Plan?
They increased investment based on central planning, they hoped this would accelerate economy. The focus would be one science and research- especially engineering
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What were the problems of the 12th 5YP?
Investment was skewed towards towards construction projects that swallowed up large amounts of money, machinery was out of date, Soviet industry was slow to use technology and managers were scared to, the focus remained on quality rather than quantit
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What did Gorbachev say was the problem with the 12th 5YP?
The level of opposition was high from the Gosplan. He admitted "Take Gosplan...What they want , they do"
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How did Gorbachev streamline the party?
He created superministries that acheived better coordination and merged small industries in the same sector together. To avoid waste and duplication and it didn't work
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What was the chief obstacle to these reforms?
Party officials didn't like implementing them as it effected their own position, the military opposed the new technology and tried to streamline funding to them.
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When and what were the aims of Economic Perestroika?
1987, he introduced market mechanisms to improve the economy and allow an element of private enterprise, it was supposed to encourage production and be more flexible than a command economy
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What three things did Gorbachev bring in under perestroika?
Joint Ventures, Law on State Enterprises, Co-opertives
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What were Gorbachev's hopes for joint ventures in 1987?
He hoped by allowing foreign companies to import their businesses then it would open the USSR to modern technology
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What were the aims for the Law on State Enterprises?
Loosening of state controls over wages and prices in a way to weaken the authority of Gosplan. Managers were given the right to produce what they liked as long as targets were met
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What did it mean when Gorbachev allowed co-operatives?
Small-scale businesses were returned to private hands and they could set a market price. The word co-operative meant that it was communist as it shared with the state but almost had elements of capitalism
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What was the impact of perestroika on the production of food?
Food production only increased by 1% from 1986 to 1987, 1/5 of food was still imported from foreign countries, uncertainty over supplies meant many hoarded food
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What happened in factories during Perestroika?
State interference was still seen, the state allocated materials and often state bureaucrats centralised power according to their own position, and didn't give power to managers. Urban workers' wages increased through election of managers
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What happened in co-operatives during perestroika?
Products and foodstuffs were diverted to co-operatives for a higher market price, state shops were stripped of supplies, party officials required bribes for not telling the government about profits, criminal gangs gained from this- especially alcohol
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Why did foreign companies not invest in the USSR?
They were faced with state bureaucrats, that made progress slow. Only 3000 small companies had invested by 1990
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What was the impact of the drop in price of oil?
It was the USSR's main export, in 1984- gas and oil made up 54% of Soviet exports
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Why did the government increase wages? What was the result of this?
Many protests occurred about the price of food in co-operatives and promises of reforms in consumer goods failed, however with no food in the shops no one could spend their money on anything important
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When and what was the State Commission on Economic Reform?
1989, a report was made suggesting the move to a market-led economy
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What was the impact on the State Commission on Economic Reform?
It split the government in decision, Shatalin put forward a proposal for the 500 Day programme which was rejected by the Politburo but accepted by the Russian Parliament, dividing and alienating party factions.
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What did Gorbachev think about the government system itself?
Under Brezhnev, blocs of interest were created and investment competed with each other leading into corruption. A cleanse of the party was needed to adopt new reforms
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What was Glasnost and it's aims?
Gorbachev's policy of openness, and encouraged the nation to re-engage with politics, it also helped remove unwilling CP members
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What were the main criticisms put forward by the public?
Complaints about housing, investigations about war and Stalin's terror, environmental issues and catastrophes
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Why was Chernobyl significant to Glasnost?
It was covered up meaning more humans were harmed and there was a delay of evacuation from the area. The factory was using outdated technology and workers were unskilled. It provided a huge justification for Glasnost
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By 1989, what had Glasnost created?
60,000 informal opposition groups of Soviet government and a wave of criticisms to the party. Many leading politicians had resigned
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Describe the Katyn Massacre
It was the murder of 4000 Polish army officers during WW2, there was a mass grave in the Katyn forest. Russia had blamed Germany for the murders but in 1991 they revealed Stalin's orders to execute them
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Describe the Aral Sea Affair
The rivers leading to the river in Kazakhstan were diverted to irrigate the expansion of a cotton field. This led to soil becoming toxic, the water undrinkable and the ares surrounding it much hotter and drier. Officials embezzled money from this
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What did Gorbachev think about party and state?
He wanted there to be a distinct difference between them and at the 19th Party Congress in 1988, this was faced with hesitance as party officials didn't want to give up one of their roles
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What did Gorbachev do about local soviets?
He gave them more power and finance, and deputies were given more time to power as a way of offering job security
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How did Gorbachev streamline the party?
The departments of the Central Committee were reduced from 20 to 9, and six new commissions were created. Super-ministries were also created, to ensure economic coordination and combat waste
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What was the situation in Kazakhstan with corruption?
Kunayev, the First Secretary of the party, was dismissed due to corruption and replaced with an ethnic Russian, Kolbin. This looked like Russian interference and many rioted against this. Gorbachev was blamed for this
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In 1988 how did Gorbachev experiment with multiple-candidate elections?
At the Nineteenth Party Congress, the elections were created for the Congress of People's Deputies which supervised the government- they were sent to different sectors of society
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What was wrong with the new election progress?
It gave the population a taste of democracy, but not enough, it was criticised for being simply tinkering with the system
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How did the political reforms effect divisions in the party?
The reforms were opposed by conservatives but praised by radicals producing a conflict in decisions and Gorbachev couldn't decide who to side with
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How did the political reforms alienate radicals?
They believed that the reforms were not enough to change the system. Yelstin fought with Gorbachev over decisions and he was dismissed from the party in Feb 1988
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How did the political reforms alienate conservatives?
They believed Gorbachev's reforms were too radical for the party and while Gorby was on holiday abroad Ligachev posted a letter against Gorbachev in the newspaper to open the topic up to debate with the population. And he was supported!
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How did the political reforms develop factions in the party and what were these factions?
Arguements in the Central Committee led to the development of factions. Although banned, Soyuz (conservatives) and the Inter-Regional Group (radicals) were formed. They created informal internal opposition at congresses
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What was Article 6 and why did Gorbachev abolish it?
It was a law that stated 'Communism was the leading force in Soviet society' by abolishing it, Gorbachev opened up the chance of pluralism and the end to communism- he was under immense pressure from liberals and conservatives
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What was the impact of the abolishment of Article 6?
The opposition won 60% of the votes and Yeltsin resigned from the monopoly of the communist party to head the oppostion. He banned the communist party in Russia in 1991
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Why was the Brezhnev Doctrine introduced in 1968?
The Czech government had tried to introduce radical reforms but the Doctrine suppressed the reversal of socialism in all foreign states
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When and why did Gorbachev propose the Brezhnev Doctrine?
In 1985 at the funeral of Chernenko, it allowed satellite states to pave their own way to socalism without interference from Russia. These states swallowed up $40 billion per year
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What was the impact of the ending of the Brezhnev Doctrine?
It was an opportunity for the satellite states to declare independence and it made the USSR look weak over Eastern Europe was it was a symbol of WW2 victory
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What happened in Poland that resulted in independence?
In 1989, the solidarity group won the general election and this was accepted by the Soviet government which acted as a catalyst to nationalism in the Baltic States
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What happened in Hungary that resulted in independence?
The leader Janos Kadar was sacked by 1988, the government was dominated by reformers and the multi-party elections were allowed
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What happened in East Germany that resulted in independence?
They were a new country so needed support from the USSR to survive, Egon Krenz new leader of Germany faced chaos when the Berlin Wall was torn down
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What happened in Czechoslovakia that resulted in independence?
The Civic forum beat the communist party in elections and the new non-communist government was headed by Vaclac Havel
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What happened in Romania that resulted in independence?
The Romanian people were faced with food shortages and a lack of democracy. The assassination of Nicole Ceasescu on Christmas Day marked the end of communism in Romania
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How did the Pope play role in nationalism?
He visited Poland and urged them 'Do not be afraid'
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When were all satellite states free from communism?
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Which factors contributed to the growth of nationalism within the USSR?
Environmental, the unwillingness of local party leaders, culture and language
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How were local party leaders insecure?
Under trust in cadres they had built sizeable power and wealth and now Gorbachev's new reforms were threatening their lifestyle. They lended support to local protests in an effort to secure their positions
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Explain why the Nargorno-Karabakh region was handled poorly
Armenians from the area only wanted to go back to Armenia and when violence broke out then the Red Army intervened which inflamed the situation. It showed the declining and de-stabilising control of the Communist government
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What were the Baltic states?
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia
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Why were the Baltic States different from other republics within the USSR?
They had a different history of independence than the other states, they also had better education and were more economically stable
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What were popular fronts and what did they mean for Baltic states?
Organisations run by intelligista or 'sajudis' they called for independence. In 1990 they won a majority in the Supreme Soviets and all three countries illegally declared independence. Gorbachev allowed it
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How did the Red Army retaliate in Lithuania?
A vilnius television programme station was attacked and 13 lost their lives
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What were the limits of nationalism?
The republics got money from the Soviet Union so they often didn't want to leave, many ethnic Russian lived in republics of Russia and internal tribal disputes were more important
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What were the terms of the New Union Treaty?
The states acted as a feudal state but all acted together
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How many states accepted the New Union Treaty?
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How did Gorbachev show lack of vision?
He came into the party without a clear expectation of what his reforms would result in. Eg. Acceleration turned into perestroika with no clear planning
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How did Gorbachev show naivety?
He didn't consider that openness to the party would result in criticisms and he genuinely believed that the ending of the Brezhnev Doctrine would mean the satellite states would call for independence and not follow his reforms
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How did Gorbachev attack his powerbase?
He attempted to reform the Communist party, which he was part of. He lacked legitimacy at a time where he would probably have won the election- instead Yeltsin was elected to the Russian Congress
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How did Gorbachev disappoint the nation?
He raised the expectations of the nation, and failed them
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How did insensitively handle minorities?
The Kazhazstan affair, the confusion of terror in Vilnius and the government's hesitance reaction to the Baltic states declaration of independence
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How did Gorbachev show inconsistency?
In his speeches he would often criticise Stalin then praise him, he replaced Bakatin with Pugo as Minister of the Interior (a hard-line conservative)- it made him an enemy on both sides
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What did Ronald Suny say about Gorbachev?
His ideas were all valid but implemented at the same time brought the collapse the system as they all undermined each other
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What defence is there for Gorbachev?
He was peaceful at his conquests and was given the Nobel Peace Prize , he adopted an economy and government that was inflexible to change, his personal charm was hard to no love
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What support did Yeltsin did have?
During his time from Feb-June 1988 he got power by meeting with workers and even the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church and 200,000 people gathered in Moscow to support him
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How did he use his election to the Congress of People's Deputies to his advantage?
He used it be elected as Mayor of Moscow and in 1990 to the Russian Congress and was able to undermine Gorbachev and attack conservatives
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Why and when did Yeltsin resign from the Communist party?
July 1990, as an attempt to rid himself of any connections to the Communist party
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How did Yeltsin manipulate Gorbachev?
He worked on the Union Treaty with him knowing it would upset party conservatives
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Describe the August Coup
In 1991, the conservatives tried to over rule Gorbachev by putting him under house arrest and running as the State of Emergency. Yeltsin organised the the oppositon and staged a defence infront of the government building and was able to suppress it
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What were the key impacts of the August Coup?
Yeltsin got more power and Gorby looked weak. Subsequently, Yeltsin rejected the Union Treaty and formed the Democratic Reform Movement as an opposition party. In 1991 he banned the communist party
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When did Gorbachev resign from the CP and why?
Christmas day 1991, because he couldn't live in a state that was not communist
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


What did Gorbachev battle in 1985?


Corruption, from his mentor Andropov

Card 3


What was the problem with alcohol in Russia?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What was Gorbachev's saying about alcohol?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What did Gorbachev do to battle corruption?


Preview of the front of card 5
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