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The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union

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  • Category: Communist

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Everything started when Eastern Europeans grew tired of the restrictive communist government they were in and started wanting to have a democratic government similar to that of western countries. From 1956 until the final downfall of the soviets, there were various strikes and revolutions that served as calls for a democratic government.

The series of revolutions that contributed to the final downfall of communism started on November 9, 1959 with the collapse of the Berlin wall. The East Germans were motivated to get into a revolution and call for reforms because many of their neighboring countries such as Hungary and Poland started getting it. There were various revolutions occurring throughout Europe. In Czechoslovakia, the communist rule has been overthrown and control has been transferred to the playwright Vaclav Havel due to his movement which was to be known as the Velvet Revolution. Communist rule in various countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania were also being removed from power. These various revolutions throughout Europe contributed to the final fall of communism there. Since the communism there depended on soviet military support, the Soviet Union also fell with it. The Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev was then forced to concede his rule to Boris Yeltsin.

Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet Union

Mikhail Gorbachev was a Soviet leader who recognized that the Soviet Union had political and economic problems and that it needed to be reformed.

First, it was the urgent need to revitalize the Soviet economy–and by doing so restore the people’s faith in the renewability of the socialist system as a whole–that led Gorbachev to undertake a fundamental reappraisal of the country’s security requirements and to press for far-reaching reforms in the armed forces and in military doctrine. (Blacker, 1993, p. 2)

These reforms were necessary for the continued existence of the Soviet Union. Perestroika (restructuring) meaning “decentralization of the Soviet economy with gradual market reforms” and glasnost (openness) meaning “greater freedom of expression” were his two major reforms. (Brainard, 2003)

However, this policy of glasnost failed him because when the people started getting more freedom, they became comfortable and became insistent with their demands to the government. As for his market reforms, it failed to meet the people’s increasing demands. This caused to people to revolt even more. All these contributed to the further deterioration of the Soviet Union.

The Changes Under Boris Yeltzin

Boris Yeltsin was the first elected president of the new government in Russia. The major change he brought about in his regime was to bring about more restrictions to his people: He dissolved the council of federation, the press was even more limited, the independence of the court was restricted, etc. He may be the new ruler of the supposedly better Russian government but still, he was seen to be “ineffective” and even brought the country to an even greater economic and political downfall. He had this so-called macroeconomic stabilization wherein interest rates and taxes greatly increased which was supposed to limit credits and make cut backs on spending.


Blacker, Coit D. 1993. Hostage to Revolution: Gorbachev and Soviet Security Policy,     1985-1991. Russia: Council on Foreign Relations

Brainard, Jennifer. 2003. M.A.D:The Cold War. Collapse of Communism. December 12,    2007. Oak Harbor: HistoryWiz.     <http://www.historywiz.org/Gorbachev.htm>

Bugajski, Janusz. Michalewski, Marek. 2002. Toward an Understading of Russia: New      European Perspectives.  Russia:Council on Foreign Relations

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