World Marks 20 Years w/o USSR, Holds Breath for Eurasian Union

World | December 8, 2011, Thursday // 08:31|  views

The territory of the former USSR. Image by Wikipedia

Thursday the world marks the 20th anniversary of the date when the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed an agreement that dissolved the Soviet Union.

December 8, 1991 Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Belarusian President Stanislau Shushkevich, assembled in the Byelavezhskaya Pushcha, signed an agreement to dissolve the USSR and replace it with a loose Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Two weeks later, December 25, 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev submitted his resignation of the Soviet Union, marking the very end of the USSR.

The events of December 8 were preceded by several years of internal turmoil and emancipation movements within Soviet republics that followed the democratization process in the 1980s.

In the spring of 1990, Baltic republics of Lithuania and Latvia were the first to declare independence - a move that was met with force from Moscow but ultimately succeeded, as Soviet leaders saw the use of brute force as inutile.

Instability was also simmering in the Caucasus, where Soviet authorities violently crushed pro-independence protests in Azerbaijan.

Those events were preceded by popular protests in the Central Asian republics in 1989 and the splitting of a number of the Union republic's Communist Parties from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The USSR officially ceased to exist December 25, 1991, but December 8 was pivotal, as it sealed the free agreement to that of three central republics, including Russia.

Early October this year, current Russian PM Vladimir Putin announced plans to create a new political and economic 'Eurasian Union' once he returns to Russia's presidential position in March 2012.

Since then, he has repeatedly linked the history of the USSR and nowadays' Russia in a chain of continuity, arguing that the falling apart of the Union was a mistake, and that Russia needs to forge closer ties with countries in the former Soviet area.

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Tags: Ukraine, Belarus, Boris Yeltsin, azerbaijan, Lithuania, Latvia, independence, Mikhail Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin, Eurasian Union, Russia, USSR, Soviet Union, Commonwealth of Independent States, CIS


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