The collapse of the USSR in 1991 Public

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A Level Edexcel History Russia 1917-1991

Module Information

The economic weakness of the USSR Centralisation --> gov administrators were based in Moscow so were unable to co-ordinate the economy properly fertilisers and pesticides often arrived at the wrong time or place factories received the wrong grades of products and materials central control created problems across the whole country Problems in industry --> failed to create incentives so workers were less productive than their counterparts in the West plus Gosplan set targets for quantity, not quality so goods were bad or useless Problems in agriculture --> required a large proportion of the population but they weren't productive Soviet infrastructure --> had never been fully modernised so transporting food was difficult and a lack of storage facilities meant that food wasn't stored properly and a lot was wasted Military expenditure --> 1965-1985 12% to 17% of GDP was spent on the military which starved other areas of the economy   By 1985 the economy had stopped growing but there wasn't any real crisis --> was inefficient but still functioning
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The failure of economic reform 1985-1991 Rationalisation 1985-1986 Gorbachev tried to improve the way in which the command economy worked continued Andropov's anti-alcohol campaign, cutting state production by 50% introduced uskoernie or "acceleration" to invest in the designing of a modern economy anti-alcohol failed as citizens just bought it from black markets or brewed their own anti-alcohol meant that the government lost money on vodka sales --> revenues dropped by 9% of GDP so in 1988 it was abandoned acceleration failed because it was funded on borrowed money from the West so government debt rose & he invested the money poorly after ignoring the advice of experts Reform 1987-1990 Gorbachev began to experiment with market reforms Law on Individual Economic Activity (Nov 1986) which made it legal to make money on small scale jobs like tutoring Law on State Enterprises (June 1987) factory managers set prices for their goods Law on Co-operatives (May 1988) legal to set up large co-operatives which functioned like private companies created growing economic chaos undermined command economy but failed to create an effective alternative so there was no way to distribute goods and shortages became severe  1986-1990 the GDP shrank by 4% by 1990 the economic problems effected politics as prices rose and senior officials grew rich strikes increased and there was a decline in support for the Party Transformation 1990-1991 to minimise the problems expected with going to a full market economy, Gorbachev and Yeltsin got two economists to draw up the "500 Day Programme" that proposed widespread privatisation and complete marketisation in less than 2 years Gorbachev initially supported this ^^ but under pressure from hardliners he back down and switched to wanting it to happen slower Jan 1991 --> Supreme Soviet introduced private property so Soviet people could own factories and land April 1991 --> Soviet citizens can trade stocks and shares economy continued to decline as oil production fell by 9% while steel and tractor production fell by 12% summer 1991 --> Soviet and Republic governments were effectively bankrupt Yeltsin announced a programme of full marketisation in Oct 1991 but it was difficult to implement   Gorbachev's reforms created chaos, which caused political chaos and the collapse of the USSR The economy was bound to disintegrate because of its long-term problems --> the reforms just sped it up His reforms could have been successful if he hadn't tried political and economic at the same time
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Gorbachev's reforms t​he Party and government ​​​​​​Goals committed to the creation of a democracy for the working people wanted to remove corrupt members of the Party wanted greater freedom of speech hoped that allowing people to participate in government would make them less cynical Early reforms ​​​​​​​wanted to open up debate within the Party wanted to allow intellectuals more freedom of expression wanted to allow the public to have more access to information Glasnost 1986-1988 policy of openness information about economics and Soviet history were readily available 1988 --> Soviet press published criticisms of Marx and Lenin from 1988 the Party revealed the scale of economic problems facing the USSR Political effects of reforms divided the Party --> many supported the reforms but hardliners believed glasnost and perestroika would end the power of the Party and privileges of members factions emerged --> hardliners and moderates resisted while radical embraced citizens lost faith in the Party freer media allowed opponents to publish criticisms of the government Reforms in 1988 19th Party Conference authorised multi-candidate elections (from with in the Communist Party) the election of 1989 was the first multi-candidate one and many high-ranking Communists were defeated but radicals like Yeltsin did well Republic elections 1989 weakened the Party when anti-Party groups got a lot of votes 1989 election led to formation of IRDG which was effectively an opposition group to the Communists nationalists used the election to campaign for independence Yeltsin emerged as a rival to Gorbachev Constitutional reform 1990 Gorbachev gave himself new powers created the role of the President of the USSR which he gave to himself along with 18 months worth of emergency powers ^^ he lacked democratic legitimacy    He hoped the political reforms would give strength to the radicals so they could continue with reforms but he actually weakened the entire Party and then removed his own legitimacy by refusing to stand for election for the Presidency
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The rise in nationalism Gorbachev's reforms purges --> getting rid of the Brezhnevites and purge of local leaders he thought were corrupt was followed by his appointments of his own supporters which tended to be Russian --> this sparked resentment in the Republics economic decline --> livings standards decreased in the Republics around the time that Russian leaders took over so they blamed them Glasnost --> exposed how ethnic minorities had been attacked, showed how much better the West was and allowed nationalists groups to publish propaganda  Growing unrest  1988 --> nationalist protests broke out in Azerbaijan between Armenian and Azerbaijani nationalists 1989 --> Uzbeks massacred the Muslim minority of Meskhetians --> Soviet authorities were unable to restore peace 1989 --> Georgian nationalists protested against the rights of the Abkhazian minority --> Soviet authorities used force to restore peace but their actions were called the Tbilisi Massacre Nationalism also grew in Russia + Chernobyl revelations led to a rise in environmentalist groups 1988 --> "Popular Fronts" emerged in the Baltic States which were dedicated to gaining independence  The Sinatra Doctrine 1989 Gorbachev renounced the USSR's "right" to intervene in the affairs of other socialist nations he said they should find their own path to Communism led to revolutions across Eastern Europe culminating in the destruction of the Berlin Wall in Nov 1989 Democratisation allowed nationalists to organise themselves, win elections and assert their desire for independence  March 1990 --> Parliament of Lithuania declare themselves independent --> Gorbachev calls it illegal and puts economic sanctions on them (lifted in the summer) but there was no resolution to the issue May 1990 --> Yeltsin insists Russian laws are superior to Soviet laws Baltic independence Estonia --> declare sovereignty in Nov 1988 Lithuania --> declare independence in March 1990, when economic sanctions failed force was used and 14 people were killed --> Ukrainian miners organised protests and Yeltsin told Red Army to disobey orders + began making Russian Army Treaty negotiations Gorbachev proposed a new treaty in 1990 with a more decentralised union to be signed on the 21st August 1991 The coup 18th August --> 8 senior officials announced the establishment of the Emergency Committee to replace Gorbachev's government Yeltsin headed resistance to the coup, demanding Gorbachev be brought back (had the support of the army) Coup collapsed on the 21st August Break-up of the USSR Yeltsin's authority strengthened by his role in the coup --> 23rd August he suspended the Communist Party and banned it on the 6th Nov Gorbachev's authority was weakened as he stuck by the Party after the coup so the public lost faith in him Fears that he would reverse his earlier reforms, more Republics declared their independence Independence Gorbachev tried to save the USSR 1 Dec 1991 --> Ukraine votes for independence 21st Dec 1991 --> Yeltsin and leaders of Ukraine and Belarus signed the Minsk Agreement which replaced the USSR with CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States)
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Gorbachev's personal mistakes He changed his aims  Initially, he promised economic reforms Then embraced political reform Then he tried to reform the nature of the Union His reforms ​​​​​​​New thinking --> used "perestroika" because it implied scientific restructuring which allowed him to reform without scaring people and put "socialist" in front of policy names to make them less daunting New leadership --> replacement of local leaders with predominantly Russian officials was viewed as a takeover Perestroika --> described his reforms as "restructuring" acceleration (1985-86) led to decline in economic growth and undermined faith in the Party --> led him to be more radical glasnost exposed the crimes of previous Soviet leaders so undermined faith in the Party democratisation weakened the Party because alternative candidates could stand market reform weakened the Party as it destabilised the economy Renouncing violence meant that the main way of holding the USSR and Eastern Bloc together was gone Embracing rights weakened the power of the Party to remove opposition Fundamental mistakes believing that reform could save the Soviet Union failed to anticipate the effects of glasnost or how it would undermine the Party failed to see the fragility of the commitment to the USSR his reforms created the crisis  Policy mistakes Uskorenie was designed to restructure and increase output which wasn't possible he continually renewed the reforms without giving them a chance to work attempted economic and political reforms at once continually weakened the Party Tactical mistakes failed to win over the whole Communist Party having embraced democracy, he refused to stand for election having survived the coup, he didn't part from the Party   His mistakes and inability to foresee the consequences of his policies undermined the authority of the Party and his own position
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Yeltsin Popular radical  ​​​​​​​reputation for attacking corruption within the Party campaigned in 1989 for radical reform and got 89% Moscow vote used his political legitimacy to criticise Gorbachev he helped the IRDG  Yeltsin and the Party ​​​​​​​damaged the authority of the Party be resigning in July 1990 after this ^ membership dropped by 3.3 million Gorbachev's rival ​​​​​​​June 1990 opinion polls showed he was more popular than Gorbachev he presented himself as a rival leader of a non-Communist government Nationalism  ​​​​​​​emphasised rights and autonomy of Russia which weakened the USSR encouraged the Republics to take as much nationalism as they could swallow Rival powerbase ​​​​​​​he had democratic legitimacy where Gorbachev didn't The coup ​​​​​​​became centre of opposition to the coup used it as a pretext to ban the Communist Party seized Party assets to undermine their ability to control the Union emerged as a hero Yeltsin and the Union held secret meetings with Belarus and Ukraine to sign the Minsk Agreement he persuaded the leaders of Soviet army to abandon the Union and form a Russian army
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