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Wednesday, August 24, 2016


  • Soviet Union’s State Council discussing a draft union agreement near Moscow on November 13, 1991 (TASS) - Beginning in the fall of 1990, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev labored to create a union agreement that would hold the Soviet Union together while also allowing each republic greater autonomy. However, a hard-line coup attempt against him in August 1991 greatly strengthened demands for complete independence. In September, the Soviet government recognized the independence of the three Baltic republics.
  • Belarusian Supreme Soviet speaker Stanislau Shushkevich (left), Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (center), and Russian President Boris Yeltsin at a news conference at a press conference in Moscow on November 14, 1991 (TASS) - In November, a rump session of the Soviet Union's State Council -- made up of Gorbachev and the heads of seven union republics -- discussed a union agreement and agreed in principle to an agreement on the creation of "a union of sovereign states."
  • In December 1991, the leaders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine met in this government residence in Belavezhskaya Pushcha (TASS) - Frustrated with Gorbachev's efforts to preserve the Soviet Union, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, and Belarusian Supreme Soviet speaker Stanislau Shushkevich prepared their own union agreement.
  • Kravchuk (left), Shushkevich (center), and Yeltsin after signing the CIS agreement on December 8, 1991 (TASS) - On December 8, 1991, the three republican leaders signed an agreement establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States. The statement declared that the organization was open to all the Soviet republics, as well as to other countries. Although Gorbachev denounced the pact as "illegal and dangerous," it spelled the end of the Soviet Union.
  • Yeltsin signing the protocol agreement on the creation of the CIS in Almaty on December 21, 1991 (TASS) - Events moved quickly. Less than two weeks after the Belarus summit, the heads of 11 Soviet republics -- all but the Baltic states and Georgia -- met in the Kazakh capital and formally created the commonwealth. In December 1993, Georgia joined, while in August 2005, Turkmenistan downgraded its participation to associate membership.
  • The leaders of the member states of the new CIS give a press conference in Almaty on December 12, 1991 (TASS) - Although many observers suspected that the CIS was little more than an effort by Moscow to maintain its influence in the area it refers to as "the post-Soviet space," the organization has been more widely criticized as ineffective and purposeless. At the 1992 Winter and Summer Olympic Games, athletes from the CIS countries competed as a single team for the last time.
  • The CIS heads of state hold their first organizational summit in Minsk on December 30, 1991 (TASS) - In the beginning, CIS leaders attempted to forge a strong organization, including the creation of a CIS Joint Armed Forces High Command in March 1992. That body quickly devolved into a paper organization as CIS members asserted control over their own militaries. Some analysts now argue that the main purpose of the CIS is to maintain the post-Soviet status quo and to help keep the post-Soviet leaders in power.
  • Russian President Boris Yeltsin entering the summit hall in Minsk on December 30, 1991 (TASS) - Although Russian President Boris Yeltsin was pleased with the creation of the CIS and the relatively quiet demise of the Soviet government, he soon found the centrifugal forces of the process difficult to contain. Certain regions of the Russian Federation -- most notably Tatarstan and Chechnya -- began actively asserting their own autonomy or independence claims.
  • The Soviet flag is taken down from the Kremlin for the last time on December 31, 1991 (epa) - As 1991 came to a close, Gorbachev resigned, the Soviet government evaporated, and the nearly 70-year history of the Soviet Union came to an end.