Soviet Union R.I.P.
An historic agreement signed 15 years ago on Dec. 8th by Boris Yeltsin, president of Russia, and the presidents of the Ukraine and Belarus, erased the Soviet Union from the world map. The meeting at a hunting lodge near Minsk resulted in a declaration that the Soviet Union was dissolved and replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Mikhail Gorbachev described this as a constitutional coup. But it soon became clear that because of the rapidly escalating political and economic developments, the split could not be halted.
Several months earlier on September 6, 1991, the Soviet government recognized the independence of the three Baltic states.
Then on December 1, 1991, Ukraine declared its independence from the USSR after a popular referendum in which 90% of voters opted for independence.
Meanwhile, the Soviet economy continued to deteriorate and collapse from internal economic contradictions.
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" was not working, nor was it ever going to work. People are greedy and materialistic.
By December 1991, food shortages in central Russia resulted in the introduction of food rationing in the Moscow area for the first time since World War II.
However, President Gorbachev was still opposed to any rapid market reforms. To break Gorbachev's opposition, Yeltsin decided to disband the Soviet Union in accordance with the Treaty of the Union of 1922 and thereby to remove Gorbachev and the government of the USSR from power. This was seen as a forced measure to save the country from a complete economic collapse and was, at the time, widely supported by Russia's population.
But today, fifteen years later, 56.3% of Russians regret the disintegration of the Soviet Union, according to a survey by the Bashkirov and Partners consultancy as reported by Granma, the Cuban Press Agency. Many in Russia today consider the role played by Mikhail Gorbachev, ex-president of the Soviet Union, and Yeltsin, as a conspiracy; the destruction of a powerful, multinational superpower, that need not have happened. But others consider the crumbling inevitable.
Last Thursday Russian president Boris Yeltsin said in an interview, "All empires in history have ceased to exist. It's a historically inevitable process that was pre-determined for the USSR too."
Three weeks later, on December 25, 1991, Gorbachev resigned as president of the USSR.
By December 31, 1991 all official Soviet institutions had ceased operations; individual republics assumed the central government's role.
The Cold War and the greatest social experiment in history came to an end, not with a bang, but with a wimper.
And by the end of 1991, the feared and respected Soviet flag was lowered for the last time over the Kremlin.