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BIZARRE: The mysterious collapse of the USSR

The strangest revolution of the century.

George Kennan, architect of the U.S. Cold War strategy:

“It’s hard to think of any event more strange and startling, and at first glance inexplicable, than the sudden and total disintegration and disappearance … of the great power known successively as the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union.”

On July 20, 1991, the first Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, issued a decree about the “de-party-ization” of all governmental institutions on the territory of the Russian Republic. The decree took effect a month before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Boris Yeltsin, the first Russian President

This decree terminated Communist party domination of the organizations and cut all of its connections to government or politics.

At the following session of the Communist Party Central Committee, the decision was disliked, but accepted with unusual impartiality. Even the then-President of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), Mikhail Gorbachev, who was expected to veto the decision, was surprisingly calm.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin (right) and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (left) during Gorbachev’s address to the Extraordinary meeting of the Supreme Soviet of Russian Federation in Moscow (August 23, 1991)

However, in the next years, occasional attempts were made to preserve the Communist party representation in the structures. This prompted Yeltsin to issue a second, similar document in 1993, as an addendum to the first one.

In a nutshell, the President’s decree was a response to two Communist Congresses, which attempted to bring the Communist Party of the Soviet Union back to life. The communists demanded the resumption of their party’s property. They also tried to revive the Communist Party Units (partcoms) at plants and factories, which was against the Constitution.

Communist utopia. Every industrial or educational institution had a partcom that “solved” all possible problems. Partcoms looked after everyone’s personal life (including sexual life of the Soviet people). People were allowed to believe and speak (what was allowed by the party, of course). Workers were penalized for absence of diligence at work (or improper looks). Students had secured decent careers in the future (if they remained devoted Communists).

What could possibly go wrong?

“it was a tragic counter revolution conspired by imperialist conspiracy. First you isolate and then engage the socialist republic in arm’s race and then make the kill. Not that all was well within former USSR. But it was the first experiment of a socialist revolution which had no blue print to follow. Everything had to be evolved ab initio.”

27th Congress of the CPSU (1986)

The new decree put an end to the communist domination of the social and industrial spheres, and a program of returning the assets to the Communist Party.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin (center) addresses the deputies at the People’s Congress in Moscow, as Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (left) listens in the background (September 3, 1991)

On December 25, 1991, the Soviet hammer and sickle flag were replaced by the Russian tricolor. Mikhail Gorbachev resigned his post as president of the Soviet Union, leaving Boris Yeltsin as president of the newly independent Russian state.

The next day marked the end of the USSR and the birthday of 15 separate countries, including the Russian Federation.

Russian flag

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