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THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION 1990-1992 During the last months of 1991 the Soviet empire simply disintegrated into its constituent republics and was finally given a decent burial on December 25 The economic situation in the former union grew more and more catastrophic and ethnic tensions worsened President Yeltsin of Russia stood forth as the most decisive leader of an extremely difficult transition era This sudden collapse of a vast multinational empire and superpower was virtually unprecedented in world history These cataclysmic events proved profoundly traumatic for the peoples of the former Soviet Union and for an anxious world By 1990 the Soviet Union politically economically and in national terms was an empire in crisis and turmoil Gorbachev had sought unsuccessfully to lead a perilous transition from Brezhnevs authoritarian centralized system toward pluralism and market socialism He had moved far beyond Khrushcev in encouraging a pitiless examination of previous Soviet policies and history inducing many to question sharply the legitimacy of the Soviet regime In the spring and summer of 1990 amid unredeemed promises of drastic economic change political reform and national disintegration accelerated With the Supreme Soviet Boris Yeltsin favoring radical reform helped organize a left-wing opposition to Gorbachev supported on most issues by Andrei Sakharov On April 23 Gorbachev met with Yeltsin and leaders of eight other republics at a dacha at Novo Ogarevo near Moscow They agreed upon term of new union treaty that would create a loose federation in place of the old Soviet Union In June after a free and vigorous election campaign Yeltsin was elected president of the Russian Republic on the first ballot giving him unlike Gorbachev an undeniable popular mandate Sigmund Krancberg A Soviet Postmortem Krancberg argues that the grand failure of the Soviet system was rooted in the failure of Marxist-Leninist ideology to provide a viable basis for the Soviet regime and its actions The degeneration of the Bolshevik dictatorship into
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