• In March 1985 Gorbachev was
chosen as leader of communist
• Once he became leader he began
to reform the Soviet economy.
These reforms became known as
• Through perestroika he began to
introduce elements of capitalism
into the Soviet economy. For
example, some citizens were
allowed to own businesses while
the government still operated
most of them.
Easing Out of Communism
• He also started a policy of
information with the public.
This was called glasnost.
• At the Communist Party
conference in 1988
Gorbachev created a new
Soviet parliament called the
Congress of People’s
• This was the first democratic
body of officials since 1918
• In the early 1990’s he
declared that non-
communist political parties
The Cold War Ends
• The Cold War unexpectedly ended when Mikhail Gorbachev came to
• Gorbachev’s willingness to rethink the USSR’s foreign policy brought
about amazing changes. In 1987 Gorbachev created an agreement with
the United States called the INF treaty. This treaty eliminated
intermediate- range nuclear weapons. It also cut military spending in
• When the Soviets cut down on their military budget they stopped
providing military support to communist governments in Eastern
Europe. This led to the overthrow of these governments
• Throughout the Cold War, the Berlin
Wall symbolized the division
between eastern and western
• When a peaceful revolutionary
movement passed through Eastern
Europe in 1989, it also occurred in
East and West Germany.
• On November 9, 1989 the East
German government allowed citizens
to travel between east and west
• On November 10, 1989 workers
began to destroy the Berlin Wall
• One of the many problems that
Gorbachev had to deal with was the
multi-ethnic nature of the USSR.
• The Soviet Union contained 92
nationalities and 112 different
languages. Prior to Gorbachev’s new
reforms the iron hand of the USSR
had subdued the ethnic tensions
between these nationalities.
• With these new tensions and
nationalism quickly spreading,
nationalist movements emerged in the
republics that made-up the Soviet
Union. Soon the republics were
arguing for independence.
• Some of the first demands for
independence came from Latvia,
Estonia, Moldavia, Uzbekistan,
Azerbaijan, and Lithuania. Protest for independence in the Soviet Union
Downfall of Gorbachev
• With Gorbachev struggling to deal with these problems the Soviet secret police and
army became worried that the Soviet Union would end along with their privileges.
• On August 1991, Boris Yeltsin lead an unsuccessful coup’ de etat in an attempt to
seize power from Gorbachev.
• On December 1, 1991 Ukraine voted for independence and one week later Belarus
announced that the Soviet Union had “ceased to exist”
• On December 25, 1991 Gorbachev resigned, turning his responsibilities to Boris
There were 15 countries formed as a result of the Soviet Union:
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia,
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Russia.
• Yeltsin wanted to create a
capitalistic economy in the new
Russia. However economic
hardship and social disorder were
worsened by a rise in organized
• Yeltsin also tried to keep former
Soviet states like Hungary, Poland,
and the Czech Republic from
joining NATO. However, in the
1990’s these countries were able to
• Yeltsin resigned in 1999 and was
succeeded by Vladimir Putin.
• Putin was focussed on boosting
growth and in budget revenues in
order to keep Russia on a strong Boris Yeltsin
economic track. Because of this
Russia has experienced a budget
surplus and a growing economy.
Due to the disintegration of the
Soviet Union new countries were able
to thrive and produce intriguing