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The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union Almost sixty-nine years after it was founded the Soviet Union came to an end In 1985 Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev became general secretary of the Communist Party and in 1988 he became President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics USSR However six years later on December 25 1991 Gorbachev resigned It was at this time that the Soviet Union ceased to exist Most Russians today still suffering through a difficult transition believe Gorbachev changed their nation for the worse Most foreigners think he changed the world for the better It may take decades before Mikhail Sergeyevichs place in history can be fully evaluated Boris Yeltsin became the first elected president of the Russian Federation on June 12 1991Countless problems and unfulfilled expectations plagued Yeltsin as the first elected leader of the newly independent Russian democracy His attempts at drastic reforms which were to transform Russia into a prosperous market based economy were met with public disapproval As president of Russia Yeltsin played a pivotal role in the dissolution of the USSR Despite assurances from Yeltsin that reform would yield dividends within a year the economy contracted steadily from 1992 to 1997 dwindling to less than half its previous size Millions of ordinary people suffered great privation because of declining output reduced and often delayed wage and pension payments and unemployment President Boris Yeltsin at age 68 resigned as president of the Russian Federation on December 31 1999 roughly six months before the end of his term The Soviet Unions stormy political battles took place against a broader background of other unsolved and growing problems Minority nationalities continued their pressure for greater freedom from Moscow This trend went the furthest in Lithuania President Gorbachev responded with a variety of measures including an economic blockade to force the Lithuanians to reverse themselves The struggle between Lithuania and Moscow went on for months until Lithuanians finally agreed
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