How did the Soviet Union end?

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How did the Soviet Union end?

The collapse of the Soviet Union made the bipolar world disappear, a world which through the last decades had decided about the political destiny of countries. This situation eased the reliance on culture to determine different layers of foreign policies in a government-nation level by the international players. On the other hand, it confirmed that along with the cultural role of politicians, we shouldn't forget that not seeing the effects of religious features, believes and traditions of nations on structuring a culture would cause disasters.

The collapse of the Soviet Union with its terrible impact ruined all the achievements. After this incident, hostility was introduced between the nations and separatism and centrifugal led to the armed conflicts, somehow that they reached to Eastern Europe and the Balkan Peninsula.

At the end of December 1991 and with the establishment of the separated countries the Soviet Union officially ended. Collapse of the Soviets is still one of the main incidents that is being studied in international relations. We can firmly say that as the October Revolution and the events followed by it shocked the world and made many researchers write and research about it, the collapse of the Soviets did the same especially among politicians and political and social science researchers. The USSR was a multination country. Tribes and nations lived beside each other with having different national language, national traditions, and religions in that land. Their common culture was made of their national cultures and their effects on each other, and there was no place for any national discrimination and ethnic struggles. All the tribes and people, despite their nations, religions and races lived in peace and equality and fraternity made the central core of their relations.

The collapse of the Soviet Union with its terrible impact ruined all the achievements. After this incident, hostility was introduced between the nations and separatism and centrifugal led to the armed conflicts, somehow that they reached to Eastern Europe and the Balkan Peninsula. In a vast land of Europe and Asia, small and big governments were established and violence, war and blackmailing these regions especially Caucasus and central Asia reminded us of the Afghanistan tragedy.  Collapse of the Soviets; put the national culture of the newly independent countries under the impact of western culture and moral corruption increased highly in these countries. Prostitution and drug abuse was prevalent and a huge number of youth became morally corrupted. Casinos and night clubs replaced culture center, libraries and cinemas, science and art lost their attractions. Popular and human culture couldn't bear against the culture of selfishness and opportunists took the windfalls, political and economic power and imposed their animal will to everyone.  In another face, the Soviets collapse struck the world and changed the balance of power in the world. International stability faced a challenge, national liberation movements were banned from a strong support. Transnational invests took advantage of the markets turmoil, ruined the economy of the new independent countries (actually a puppet) through the former Soviet lands and monopolized the market of these countries.

Neo-colonial policy in the third world was strictly followed up and finally the Soviet's collapse woke a lot of people. It caused the deceptions to awake and showed that mankind is ready to live among justice and to gain his wealth with working hard for it.

In December 1991 Boris Yeltsin entered the Kremlin palace and told Gorbachev that the USSR has fallen and he no longer has a post. Few moments later Gorbachev in a short radio-TV speech said that he doesn't agree with this kind of dissolution of the Soviet Union, but he is facing something that is already done he will accept it. So a great empire with atom bombs, tens of thousands of tanks, hundreds of submarines space developments dissolved like snow and was gone, without any referendum to ask peoples opinion. These republics had made the empire of Russia for centuries. The Russian Duma announced the dissolution of the Soviet Union is against the law, and didn't approve any legislation.  The dissolution of 69 years old Soviet Union wasn't made by fifteen countries. Russian president Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian leader Leonid Kravchuk and Belarussian leader Stanislav Shushkevich, on December seventh in a personal meeting in Belovezhskaya located in Belarus decided to dissolve the Soviet Union. The historians know the retreat of Gorbachev (inadvertent or deliberate) in the 1980s the most important reason of the Soviet's dissolution. They believe that after Lenin's death, the Soviets weren't able to put Socialism in the minds and hearts of its newer ages by the schools and the government media. The USSR or the Soviet Union or as we shortly call it the Soviets, was a Socialist country made from Russia and several united republics from Eastern Europe to the north of Asia and it had made a vast country. The Soviet Union was a result of the 1917 revolution of Russia, and Russia was its biggest part. After World War II was over in 1945 and during the era known as the cold war, the Soviet and the US known themselves as the superpowers of the world and controlled all the international issues like economic policies, international relations, military movements, cultural relations, development in science especially in space technology. All the political and administrative power was solely in the hands of the only legal party, Communism Party of the Soviet Union. In August 1914 Russia entered the World War I. At first, only the Bolsheviks were against the war, but Russia's defeats made the Tsar's supporter less. In 1917 after the two revolutions of February and October in Russia, the Bolshevik party leaded by Lenin gained the power of the country. The Bolshevik Russia faced attacks by the supporters of the previous regime and foreign forces especially from Britain. This era is known as the Russian Civil War and through it the Soviet's modern army named the Red Army was established with the help and under command of Leon Trotsky. In 1922 and after overcoming all the oppositions the Bolshevik party which now had changed its name to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union announced the establishment of the country named "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics". This country was made of the unification of Russia and all the regions under control of empire of Russia. During the civil war and after it the communist party which was the only legal party had a strict economic policy which was known as War Communism. After the civil war was over and when the party was ruling all the country, a new economic plan named New Economic Policy (NEP) was announced. The disagreements in economic policies were rising between the Soviet leaders. After Vladimir Lenin's death in 1924, Stalin managed to consolidate more and more power in his hands, gradually putting down all opposition groups within the party, this included Leon Trotsky. These acts were named the Great Purge. In farming he made the Kolkhoz or collective farms and changed the farming face of Russia. The farming policies of the communist party were opposed by the Kulaks (independent farmers) and the government overcame them harshly. Meanwhile Stalin performed an industrialization plan in the Soviets and during his leadership the USSR was transformed from a largely agrarian society into a great industrial power.

In 1939 and at the beginning of World War II, Stalin's USSR entered into a non-aggression pact with the Nazi Germany, but after Germany violated the pact by invading the Soviet Union in 1941 and thus opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history, the Soviet Union joined the Allies. Despite heavy human and territorial losses in the initial period of this war that was named "Great Patriotic War", the government, party and people of the Soviet stood against the German army and the Soviet Union managed to stop the Axis advance in the battle of Stalingrad. Eventually, the Red Army drove through Eastern Europe in 1944–45 and captured Berlin in May 1945. Having played the decisive role in the Allied victory, the USSR emerged a recognized superpower after the war. After the World War II was over and the cold war began the struggles of two superpowers, USA and USSR, affected the entire world for four decades. They also name this struggle as the struggle of Capitalism and Socialism. In 1949 the Soviet Union became a nuclear power and broke US's monopoly in this issue. Stalin died on 5 March 1953. Without a mutually acceptable successor, the highest Communist Party officials opted to rule the Soviet Union jointly. Nikita Khrushchev, who had won the power struggle by the mid-1950s, denounced Stalin's use of repression in 1956 and eased repressive controls over party and society,. This was known as de-Stalinization.

A huge number of political and ideological prisoners became free and many who were executed as spies or opposition were rehabilitated. Also during this time the free trade law was accepted which had bad effects on the socialist system. This was the start of a series of causes that made the Soviet's collapse. In 1957 the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite Sputnik1 and started the Space Era. They sent the first human being, "Yuri Gagarin" to space and few years later the first moon rovers were sent to moon and brought back moon's soil. At the beginning of the 1960s the leaders of the party removed Nikita Khrushchev from power. Following the ousting of Khrushchev, another period of collective leadership ensued, consisting of Leonid Brezhnev as General Secretary, Alexei Kosygin as Premier and Nikolai Podgorny as Chairman of the Presidium, lasting until Brezhnev established himself in the early 1970s as the preeminent Soviet leader. During his leadership Khrushchev's reforms were slowed and the coup of the party and the government on all of the social and political issues increased.

In the 1980s signs of Soviet’s collapse appeared and finally in 1991 this country were officially dissolved and divided into different countries. The countries which made the former Soviet Union, maintaining their independence formed the Commonwealth Independent States (CIS). Only few years after this the effects of free trade and capitalism and the invasion of western culture showed itself in the Newly Independent States. Poverty was everywhere, and till today this part of Europe known as the eastern part has difference in the level of living with the developed countries. After the collapse 15 new countries were established, and the Russian Federation was the legal heir of the Soviet Union, these new countries in Eastern Europe are: Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova; near the Baltic sea: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; in Caucasus: Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia; in central Asia: Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. There are also some unresolved territorial disputes: unrecognized republics of Pridnestrovian in Moldava, Karabakh in Azerbaijan and also Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia which in the summer of 2008 was recognized by Russia and Nicaragua and this severed the diplomatic relations of Georgia and Russia.

On December 8th 1991, leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus met in Minsk and with announcing the independency of their lands they declared the dissolution of the USSR. They also announced the establishment of the CIS among themselves. Soon after that 8 other newly independent states joined the CIS, the rapid political changes in some of these countries made the playing role of the CIS much less than expected in regional and international political affairs. Based on a poll from the research institute of Eurasia, more than 68% of the Russian Federation people, 59% of Ukrainian people and 52% of Belarusian people still prefer the USSR. And the same poll shows that 68% of the Russian Federation people, 71% of Ukrainian people and 72% of Belarusian people believe there is no chance of re-establishing the USSR. And another interesting poll shows that most Russians prefer to make a confederation with Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan than to join the European Union.

Toos Tahmasebi, in scientific analyze in the "Farhang-e- Tose'e" (The culture of development) writes about the reforms of Gorbachev and the collapse of the Soviet Union: "After Brezhnev's death it was obvious for most of the Soviet leaders that this country needs a series of change and reforms, but there was no coincidence for the quality and width of these changes. Yuri Andropov's sudden death left his reform policies that were widespread combating with corruption in the rulers and administrators’ level, making the Soviet's economy more flexible and injecting competitive incentives and marketing to the economy along with full preservation of political authority and immunity of the state's ideology unfinished. Chernenko's death, which didn't have any especial policy for improving the situation, made the way open for Gorbachev who was younger than all the other Soviet leaders and also had a especial power of expression and personal charm.

To explain the results of Gorbachev's acts we should clarify the coordinates of his form model. In the beginning of his leadership he tried to reform the stagnating Party and the state economy by introducing "glasnost" ("openness"), "perestroika" ("restructuring"). At first Gorbachev tried to combat with financial corruption and managers and government apathy and irresponsibility and he also did a widespread combat with the consumption of alcohol drinks which had tripled during the last two decades and seemed to be one the main reasons of the apathy of the Russians. Alcoholic drinks were kind of a physiological relief after a hard day of work. The limitation of alcoholic drinks faced its consumer’s dissatisfaction.  The bacchanal rather than staying in line for hours to receive a bottle of wine preferred to buy it much more expensive from smugglers.

He had several visits from factories, Kolkhozes and different cities and he was warmly welcomed by the people. Gorbachev thought by creating a revolution in action and speech of the Soviet leaders and applying some new regulations, he could make the Soviet society vigorous so he could prevent the economic and administrative system from its inefficiency.

In 1985 he said: "The issues and problems of 1970s and 80s don't show the crisis of socialism as a political and social system, but it's a sign of not using the socialism principles as strict as we should have." But gaining no short term success, and Gorbachev's concerns about sabotaging his policies by the technocrats and the apparatchiks of the party and government, and also his failure in the alcohol policy and the nuclear tragedy of Chernobyl in Ukraine made him realize that he should put another step further and propose his reform policy more radical. Gorbachev decided to use an open political atmosphere as the main solution for the economic and administrative problems of the Soviet Union.

Gorbachev thought that the reason of his first contrivance's failure was the gap between people and the government, distrust of people to the government and sabotage from the party's body and the government. For resolving these problems he decided to gain the trust of people to the honesty of the government and give them a role in the important issues about politics and economy. Also he significantly allowed the opposition’s views and opinions to be heard and his own government revealed the mistakes and grievances made before him.

He thought this way the majority of people will feel unified with the government and hope will rise inside them and this hope will lead to work commitment, and along with some other observational policies people would feel more responsible and stand against administrative corruptions.

After applying these ideas, the press found more freedom to talk about risky discussions. TV programs were changed and information about the weaknesses of the government and talks about deciding which policy is better were broadcasted live. Few of the banned movies were screened and Stalin’s crimes came out of the files and were discussed freely. Gorbachev's policy was entering people in discussions. In the name of "glasnost" any subject which used to be a secret in the Soviet Union were discussed openly. And finally in his most important act, Gorbachev restricted the politics and political legitimacy in the Soviet Union government. In the spring of 1989 Soviet's constitution was changed and it was appointed that a new parliament named "Congress of People's Deputies" and two third of its members were supposed to be elected. The election of the new congress was done in the same year, which was the first free election after the 1917 Russian Constituent Assembly elections. During the elections in the summer of 1989 a new political inflammation began, especially that the new congress's sessions were broadcasted live and the viewers could watch unique sights, for example criticizing the KGB. These policies along with Gorbachev's international conciliatory movement which he for the first time condemned the spread of their revolution and declared the common values of humanity more important than class struggles, made Gorbachev popular between western governments, mass media and public opinion. Gorbachev was known as the superman who took the greatest steps toward peace and democracy in recent centuries.

Most of the western popular press and media named him the man of the year or decade. Gorbachev was so popular that most of the western politicians envied him. One of Gorbachev's priorities was keeping him popularity in west.

But inside the country, everything was opposite. Gorbachev's policies were seen as a sign of weakness and inviting an invasion towards the government. The great dam that Gorbachev had opened instead of attracting people to support him, raised serious questions and challenges about the legitimacy of government and his own position as some who has spent all his life in the administration which now he was attacking many of its rules and values and members, and further to all these he claimed he was moving in Lenin's path. Gorbachev's reforms were in a weak theoretical stage for proofing the need of a new version of Marxism- Leninism for the new age. Both the conservators and the opposition new this issue as the reason why Gorbachev should rather stop his reforms or speed them. The Soviet intellectuals, who welcomed Gorbachev at first, now had greater expectations and started to criticize Gorbachev. Most of the people, who were requesting a better living, saw that during Gorbachev's ruling not only their living and economy wasn't improving but it was getting worse, because Gorbachev hadn't tried hard enough in economy and didn't propose an especial plan for its improvement. He just tried few small plans. Like returning the collective farms to cultivators and establishing some cooperative and family businesses and decreasing the amount of subsidies to the producing units. Gorbachev's economy plans which at times were against each other, in a short term only made the economy worse and eased the way for malicious brokerage networks. Finding why these happened wasn't that hard. Economic policies need a long time to succeed and you should consider everything for performing them, and most important of all it need a stable politic, society and government authority and Gorbachev hadn't done anything for either of these issues.  Therefor lack of essential commodity showed itself and people were facing empty stores. This situation decreased peoples support of Gorbachev and so he sought economic help from western countries to improve the situation and gave them a great leverage to distort the Soviet Union. The western countries conditioned their helps against more reforms and just gave them a little economic help. By doing so, they had Gorbachev following them.

At the other hand Gorbachev dictated his policies to the Western Bloc countries which many of them such as Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungry had a worse situation than the Soviet and unlike the Soviet there was an opposition majority in those countries. Gorbachev's reforms which were pressured to replace some of the conservative leaders caused the collapse of some of communist countries in the Eastern Bloc and this made inside of the Soviet Union more disordered. And also Gorbachev's policy to discuss sensitive issues and reopening old files and inviting everyone to reveal about the past and expressing opposite ideas obviously weakened the government’s authority and it made ethnic tendencies of centrifugal alive. Soon there were separatist riots all over Lithuania, Azerbaijan and Ukraine and it made Moscow's political atmosphere more inflamed. "What that had kept more than 100 ethnic groups of the Soviet Union besides each other was the ideology of cosmopolitan communism and its strength." As soon as this ideology was questioned, nationalism raised again. Also history has shown that in any country that the authority of the government decreases and political inflammation and fault-skelter appears, separatists will rise. Day after day Gorbachev was more stuck in the political vortex which mostly he had made it himself. In one had a group of the conservatives inside the party opposed him and blamed him as the reason of Soviet's weakening, among them we should mention Yegor Ligachev member of the Politburo, Vladimir Kryuchkov chief of the KGB and Marsha Dmitry Yazov Soviet defense minister. In the other hand, a radical revisionist had been formed inside and out of the party, which Boris Yeltsin and Eduard Shevardnadze were among them. They always accused Gorbachev to conservatism, insecurity and hypocrisy. We could say that there was no longer anyone around Gorbachev and he was getting weaker day after day. When in 1990 Gorbachev decided to stand against the separatists, he was attacked by Yeltsin's dissolution wanting group and Shevardnadze who once was a close friend of Gorbachev resigned from the foreign ministry to show his objection.

But this conservative turn of Gorbachev didn't attract the conservatives trust. Meanwhile Gorbachev's attempt of establishing the elective congress made his job harder by dividing the power system in two pieces. Boris Yeltsin, who Gorbachev had fired him from the party's political office in 1987 for being too radical, was elected as Moscow's number one man through the same election, and since appointing the presidents of the republics was in the hand of the congress, Yeltsin became the president of republic of Russia.

Yeltsin who had no desire to communism, new that the best way to gain more power is dissolving the USSR, because this way Gorbachev's power would be over and he could enter Kremlin as the president. So he and his group tried their best to dissolve the Soviet Union. We don't want to tell the history over here, and for sure everyone is aware of the conservative's coup d'etat and how the failed which it led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. We are trying to have a sociologic analyze to proof that it was Gorbachev's reforms that caused the collapse of the communist regime and the resolution of the Soviet Union. The most important problem that Gorbachev's reforms had was the lack of a complete model for his reforms and not considering the capacity of a social and political system for changes. A political and social system like any other system has a limited capacity for expansion and contraction an though it could be flexible but moving far from the borders would cause the system to collapse.

At the end of December 1991 with the establishment of the Commonwealth Independent States the life of the Soviet Union officially came to an end. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the last years of the 20th century was indeed one of the most important and meanwhile strangest incidents of that century. Its most important outcome was the finishing of the bipolar world and also the cold war. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, an era of disorders covered the international relations of the world and yet it still continues. The United States, as the only rival of the Soviets during the cold war and the leader of the western bloc, tries to gain the leadership of the worlds developed and claims that after the collapse of the Soviet Union the world will have a monopole system.

Despite all these, the collapse of the Soviet Union made the bipolar world disappear, a world which through the last decades had decided about the political destiny of countries. This situation eased the reliance on culture to determine different layers of foreign policies in a government-nation level by the international players. On the other hand, it confirmed that along with the cultural role of politicians, we shouldn't forget that not seeing the effects of religious features, believes and traditions of nations on structuring a culture would cause disasters. Only few years after this the effects of free trade and capitalism and the invasion of western culture showed itself in the Newly Independent States. Poverty was everywhere, and till today this part of Europe known as the eastern part has difference in the level of living with the developed countries. Vladimir Putin, former Russian president, named the collapse of the Soviet Union as the worse geopolitical disaster of the last century and remarked that it was also a disaster for the people of Russia.