Soviet Superpower

Russia 1989.1223


The Cold War from the Soviet Union's view (23 December 1989)

Historical Map of Russia & the former Soviet Union

By the late 1980s, the Soviet Union was surrounded by hostile states, while having to cope with economic woes, discontent in Poland, and a high tech arms race with the United States. Mikhail Gorbachev, the new Soviet leader, responded with huge political and economic reforms. In 1989, he allowed elections and revolutions to overthrow the communist regimes in eastern Europe.

Main Events

Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan

First democratic elections held in the Soviet Union to elect the Congress of People's Deputies

Tadeusz Mazowiecki of Solidarity appointed Prime Minister of Poland

Hungarian government opens borders with Austria, permitting East Germans to travel to the West

Fall of the Berlin Wall

After Hungary and Czechoslovakia open their borders to Austria, allowing tens of thousands of East Germans to escape to the West, the government of East Germany partially opens its border with West Germany. In the confusion over the new regulations, masses of East Germans gather at the Berlin Wall, overwhelming the guards and demanding to cross to the West. At 10:45 pm on 9 November, the guards relent. The Wall is swamped by celebrating East and West Germans, then torn down over the ensuing days.

Communist Czechoslovak leaders resign after a week of protests for democracy

Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu is overthrown

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