48 20 Years Since The Fall Of The Soviet Union

20 Years Since The Fall Of The Soviet Union

Posted on December 24, 2011 by

Twenty years ago, on December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union, declaring the office extinct and dissolving the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a massive communist empire that had existed since 1922. The USSR had been in a long economic stagnation when Gorbachev came to power in 1985. In order to bring about change, he introduced several reforms, including perestroika and glasnost (openness). Glasnost opened the floodgates of protest and many republics made moves toward independence, threatening the continued existence of the USSR. In August of 1991, a group of Communist Party hardliners frustrated by the separatist movement attempted to stage a coup. They quickly failed due to a massive show of civil resistance -- but the already-faltering government was destabilized even further by the attempt. By December of 1991, 16 Soviet republics had declared their independence, and Gorbachev handed over power to Russian president Boris Yeltsin, ending the USSR. Collected here are photos from those tumultuous months 20 years ago.

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A woman reaches into her bag, which rests on a fallen Soviet hammer-and-sickle on a Moscow street in 1991. December 25, 2011 will mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union.

Lithuanians carry Lithuanian flags in the center of Vilnius on January 10, 1990, during demonstration asking for the country's independence. In early 1990, Sajudis-Reform Movement of Lithuania backed candidates won the elections to the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet. On March 11, 1990, the Supreme Soviet proclaimed the re-establishment of Lithuanian independence. The Baltic republics were in forefront of the struggle for independence and Lithuania was the first of the Soviet republics to declare independence.


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48 Responses to “20 Years Since The Fall Of The Soviet Union”

  1. ayaa says:

    If not for that damn coup, the new Union treaty could have been signed, Yeltsin would never have come to power, and the subsequent economic crisis (which formed the basis of all of modern Russia’s problems) could have been avoided. At least for Russia, that it is.

  2. Human says:

    nice to read and see some history of the short past here,about ur country again.

  3. JC says:

    Happy days!!!

  4. zero says:

    See? THAT’S demonstration. Not your “anti-election” joke in moscow.



  6. Mr. Fox says:

    Another chaos started.

    And How is Mikhail Gorbachev doing? few years ago, I heard he became a singer.

  7. Don says:

    And now Gorby with Boris are the most hated politics.

  8. (r)evolutionist says:

    Devolution (not evolution).

  9. Anton says:

    Yes yes, because Stalin killing millions of people was a right thing to do. You bloody fools.

  10. Is Russia any better for this now? Can somebody who lives in Russia give us their opinion?

    • ayaa says:

      Compared to before 1991, No. Life isn’t BETTER.

      Compared to 1991 onwards, yes. Life is A LOT BETTER.

      But then again, that’s just my opinion. (Although, I’m pretty sure most people would agree with me)

    • OLUT says:

      Well, I do not live in Russia and have never, but if I waited for my opinion to be asked, my keyboard would die beneath cobwebs! LOL.

      In my situation, life hasn’t been great these last few years. Employment, etc. In SU, everyone had a job and a place to live, but you had little choice in this. I don’t know what I would do if my government said, “OK, you will work as a math teacher. Or factory person.” I want — I NEED, that freedom to choose my life for me. You couldn’t see the world, either, you couldn’t travel to London or San Francisco.

      Yes, of course there were some good things in Soviet Union, and corruption and bad things in modern Russia. I just truly believe it is better to have freedom to choose your life. There should be safety nets, but it should be a net, not a cage.

    • zero says:

      Yes and no. Some things that are possible now could not happen in USSR. Internet, technologies, freely communicating with people overseas. You can move to another country (if you have enough energy to get papers/money) There are more possibilities, and country might turn into a quite good place … in 80 years.

      On other hands, some other things become harder – bills(apartment/electricity/water) and food cost much more (compared to your wage/income) than they did in USSR, quality of education seem to deteriorate, and factories/technologies that are developed in russia lag behind the rest of the world.

      Still it would be insane to wish for USSR to return at this point, and I definitely would not want that – I wouldn’t be able to adapt. All benefits of USSR are not worth possibilities I have now. At least now I can move elsewhere if I want to and try hard enough.



  12. sinan says:

    I was in Russia a few months ago. Even in relatively rich places such as St Petersburg people are so uncertain about their future. So many children cannot continue their education for the lack of money. The health system in disrepair. So you have so many things to celebrate for the fall of the CCCP heh ? Now you have freedom in Russia…Freedom of what ?? Freedom to shop !! I you have the money, that is… Putin is good in the sense at least he gave a lesson to a few oligachs such as Berezovsky and Khodorkhovsky… Still, you destroyed a system that tried (at least tried) to give everybody free healthcare and education. Now you look at Russia you see what ? Instead of people playing chess in the backyards you see vandalist teenagers getting drunk on bad beer. Very well !! Well done !!!

    • ayaa says:

      Hey, don’t blame us. Blame Yeltsin and Yanayev and Yazov and Kryuchkov.

    • zero says:

      Would you like to get Cold War back instead? I think that freedom and tough times (Russia) are better than living on the verge of thermonuclear war in a country where people are afraid to speak anything about their government because they might be sent to jail for life (USSR). There are two sides of coin for everything. If you see only good about USSR and only bad about Russia, you’re pretty much blind.

      There are still people playing chess in the parks, by the way.

  13. 山下智久 says:

    This is a tragedy!Gorbachev and Yeltsin are sinners!

  14. sameer says:

    Soviet Union must come back and destroy evil America. Actually USA was afraid and scared of CCCP which was number 1 superpower of that time…Brezhnev rule was good

  15. pytor says:

    it is good the evil Soviet kingdom collapsed.Soviet union will never be back.Thanks a lot to brave russians.Communism will never be dominant ideology once it was because of mass killing,repression practiced by communists under stalin and others.
    Russians deserve the govt they got.At heart russians are really corrupt and tribal.There was never a nation called russia…it is an artificial construct.
    Russians deserve what they got.Live with your new czars putin and medevdev

  16. pytor says:

    so much for brotherhood and humanity.those communists destroyed nations for failed ideology.

  17. Danila the Siberian says:

    They thought that the country will instantly what kind of America. It will be possible, as in the Soviet Union to do nothing, but everything will be like in Europe.

  18. Matlok says:

    As an outsider looking in, It looks to me as though things are improving slowly. It is going to take time and will continue to be a painful transition. It appears that stores have a greater variety of goods available, and in quantity. People are using the internet freely, and have access to news from around the world and can communicate with people from other nations through venues like ER. Sure there is going to be nostalgia for the good things of the Soviet years, but I think as a whole, life is getting better for you. Russia is and has been through out history a great Nation and has contributed greatly to world civilization through culture, science,art, literature,learning. The list could go on and on, you should be proud of that and endeavor to move forward in the path you are on now.

    • (r)evolutionist says:

      You’re obviously in a “New Year’s mood.” Very insightful thoughts- you have hope.

    • ayaa says:

      Many people love to talk the economic growth and freedom of modern Russia. Almost no one seems to care about Russias social problems.

      In the tightly controlled society of Soviet Russia, things like prostitution, pornography and homosexuality were not allowed to come out of the closet. (they existed but had little to no influence on society as whole).

      But then came Yeltsins Russia. Sex, porn and homosexuality became widespread. Rather than being exceptions (usually), they became the norm. We all know of the Russian economic crisis of the 90’s. Now the economy is strong and growing, but current Russia’s social diseases, which it inherited from the 1990’s Russia, still have no effective cure.

  19. CZenda says:

    “Sex, porn and homosexuality became widespread” Haha, that is a winner.

  20. 山下智久 says:

    this a big problem China also the same.And can you teach me English? At the same time I can also teach you Chinese.

  21. Tim says:

    We will bring it back for sure.

  22. geoff says:

    where is Hirsh

    • ayaa says:

      Probably lost interest in ER now that he doesn’t have abysmally low comment ratings to look forward to, and then blame Russian national pride for that.

  23. joy says:

    Fall of USSR is a greatest historic blunder.
    Todays Russia is infected by vices of unemployment,
    racism, poverty, corruption, mafia. How does the russians forget their glorious past ? No system is perfect. Look what is happening in USA—– Wall Street Movement against which is against the capitalisti system. Does it mean that USA should dissolve ?

  24. china009 says:


  25. David says:

    The USSR, for all it’s blemishes (and there were many) was an attempt to build a society, something you do not see in Russia today. It is tragic it fell the way it did as those positive things could have been maintained, but that is all over now and it will be up to the people of Russia to build their society as, in reality, it always is.

  26. king says:


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