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The Soviet Union,[r] officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics[s] (USSR),[t] was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of fifteen national republics;[u] in practice, both its government and its economy were highly centralized until its final years. It was a one-party state governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, with the city of Moscow serving as its capital as well as that of its largest and most populous republic: the Russian SFSR. Other major cities included Leningrad (Russian SFSR), Kiev (Ukrainian SSR), Minsk (Byelorussian SSR), Tashkent (Uzbek SSR), Alma-Ata (Kazakh SSR), and Novosibirsk (Russian SFSR). It was the largest country in the world, covering over 22,402,200 square kilometres (8,649,500 sq mi) and spanning eleven time zones.
The country's roots lay in the
The beginning of the Cold War saw the Eastern Bloc of the Soviet Union confront the Western Bloc of the United States, with the latter grouping becoming largely united in 1949 under NATO and the former grouping becoming largely united in 1955 under the Warsaw Pact. There was no direct military confrontation between the two organizations; instead, the conflict was fought on an ideological basis and through proxy wars. Both NATO and the Warsaw Pact led to the expansion of military forces and their integration into the respective blocs. The Warsaw Pact's largest military engagement was the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, its own member state, in August 1968 (with the participation of all pact nations except Albania and Romania), which, in part, resulted in Albania withdrawing from the pact less than one month later. Following Stalin's death in 1953, a period known as de-Stalinization occurred under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev. The Soviets took an early lead in the Space Race with the first artificial satellite, the first human spaceflight, and the first probe to land on another planet (Venus).
In the 1970s, there was a brief détente in the Soviet Union's relationship with the United States, but tensions emerged again following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. In the mid-1980s, the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform the country through his policies of glasnost and perestroika. In 1989, during the closing stages of the Cold War, various countries of the Warsaw Pact overthrew their Marxist–Leninist regimes, which was accompanied by the outbreak of strong nationalist and separatist movements across the entire Soviet Union. In 1991, Gorbachev initiated a national referendum—boycotted by the Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova—that resulted in the majority of participating citizens voting in favour of preserving the country as a renewed federation. In August 1991, hardline members of the Communist Party staged a coup d'état against Gorbachev; the attempt failed, with Boris Yeltsin playing a high-profile role in facing down the unrest, and the Communist Party was subsequently banned. The Russian Federation became the Soviet Union's successor state, while all of the other republics emerged from the USSR's collapse as fully independent post-Soviet states.
The Soviet Union produced many significant
The word soviet is derived from the Russian word sovet (Russian: совет), meaning 'council', 'assembly', 'advice',[w] ultimately deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of *vět-iti ('to inform'), related to Slavic věst ('news'), English wise, the root in ad-vis-or (which came to English through French), or the Dutch weten ('to know'; compare wetenschap meaning 'science'). The word sovietnik means 'councillor'. Some organizations in Russian history were called council (Russian: совет). In the Russian Empire, the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers.
The Soviets as
СССР (in the Latin alphabet: SSSR) is the abbreviation of the Russian language cognate of USSR, as written in
In English language media, the state was referred to as the Soviet Union or the USSR. In other European languages, the locally translated short forms and abbreviations are usually used such as Union soviétique and URSS in French, or Sowjetunion and UdSSR in German. The Russian SFSR dominated the Soviet Union to such an extent that for most of the Soviet Union's existence, it was commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as Russia. Technically, Russia itself was only one republic within the larger union—albeit by far the largest, most powerful and most highly developed of the 15 republics. Nevertheless, according to historian Matthew White, it was an open secret that the country's federal structure was "window dressing" for Russian dominance. For that reason, the people of the USSR were almost always called "Russians", not "Soviets", since "everyone knew who really ran the show".
Revolution and foundation (1917–1927)
Modern revolutionary activity in the
A spontaneous popular demonstration in Petrograd on
The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, pushed for communist revolution in the Soviets and on the streets, adopting the slogan of "All Power to the Soviets" and urging the overthrow of the Provisional Government. On 7 November 1917, Bolshevik Red Guards stormed the Winter Palace in Petrograd, arresting the Provisional Government leaders and Lenin declared that all power was now transferred to the Soviets. This event would later be officially known in Soviet bibliographies as the "Great October Socialist Revolution". The bloody Red Terror was initiated to shut down all opposition, both perceived and real. In December, the Bolsheviks signed an armistice with the Central Powers, though by February 1918, fighting had resumed. In March, the Soviets ended involvement in the war and signed the separate peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
A long and bloody
The Civil War had a devastating impact on the economy. A
Treaty on the Creation of the USSR
On 28 December 1922, a conference of plenipotentiary delegations from the
An intensive restructuring of the economy, industry and politics of the country began in the early days of Soviet power in 1917. A large part of this was done according to the
From its creation, the government in the Soviet Union was based on the one-party rule of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks).[x] The stated purpose was to prevent the return of capitalist exploitation, and that the principles of democratic centralism would be the most effective in representing the people's will in a practical manner. The debate over the future of the economy provided the background for a power struggle in the years after Lenin's death in 1924. Initially, Lenin was to be replaced by a 'troika' consisting of Grigory Zinoviev of the Ukrainian SSR, Lev Kamenev of the Russian SFSR, and Joseph Stalin of the Transcaucasian SFSR.
On 1 February 1924, the USSR was recognized by the United Kingdom.[
According to Archie Brown the constitution was never an accurate guide to political reality in the USSR. For example, the fact that the Party played the leading role in making and enforcing policy was not mentioned in it until 1977. The USSR was a federative entity of many constituent republics, each with its own political and administrative entities. However, the term 'Soviet Russia' – formally applicable only to the Russian Federative Socialist Republic – was often applied to the entire country by non-Soviet writers due to its domination by the Russian SFSR.
Stalin era (1927–1953)
On 3 April 1922, Stalin was named the
In 1928, Stalin introduced the
Famines ensued as a result, causing deaths estimated at three to seven million; surviving kulaks (wealthy or middle-class peasants) were persecuted, and many were sent to Gulags to do forced labor. Social upheaval continued in the mid-1930s. Despite the turmoil of the mid-to-late 1930s, the country developed a robust industrial economy in the years preceding World War II.
Closer cooperation between the USSR and the West developed in the early 1930s. From 1932 to 1934, the country participated in the
In December 1936, Stalin unveiled a new
Stalin's Great Purge resulted in the detainment or execution of many 'Old Bolsheviks' who had participated in the October Revolution. According to declassified Soviet archives, the NKVD arrested more than one and a half million people in 1937 and 1938, of whom 681,692 were shot. Over those two years, there were an average of over one thousand executions a day.[y]
In 1939, after attempts to form a military alliance with Britain and France against Germany failed, the Soviet Union made a dramatic shift towards Nazi Germany.
On 1 September, Germany invaded Poland and on the 17th the Soviet Union invaded Poland as well. On 6 October, Poland fell and part of the Soviet occupation zone was then handed over to Germany.
On 10 October, the Soviet Union and Lithuania signed an agreement whereby the Soviet Union transferred Polish sovereignty over the Vilna region to Lithuania, and on 28 October the boundary between the Soviet occupation zone and the new territory of Lithuania was officially demarcated.
On 1 November, the Soviet Union annexed Western Ukraine, followed by Western Belarus on the 2nd.
In late November, unable to coerce the Republic of Finland by diplomatic means into moving its border 25 kilometres (16 mi) back from Leningrad, Stalin ordered the invasion of Finland. On 14 December 1939, the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations for invading Finland. In the east, the Soviet military won several decisive victories during border clashes with the Empire of Japan in 1938 and 1939. However, in April 1941, the USSR signed the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact with Japan, which the Soviets would unilaterally break in 1945, recognizing the territorial integrity of Manchukuo, a Japanese puppet state. The pact ensured Japan would not enter the war against the USSR on the side of Germany later.
World War II
Germany broke the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 starting what is known in Russia and some other post-Soviet states as the Great Patriotic War. The Red Army stopped the seemingly invincible German Army at the Battle of Moscow. The Battle of Stalingrad, which lasted from late 1942 to early 1943, dealt a severe blow to Germany from which they never fully recovered and became a turning point in the war. After Stalingrad, Soviet forces drove through Eastern Europe to Berlin before Germany surrendered in 1945. The German Army suffered 80% of its military deaths in the Eastern Front. Harry Hopkins, a close foreign policy advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt, spoke on 10 August 1943 of the USSR's decisive role in the war, saying that "While in Sicily the forces of Great Britain and the United States are being opposed by 2 German divisions, the Russian front is receiving attention of approximately 200 German divisions."[z] Up to 34 million soldiers served in the Red Army during World War II, 8 million of which were non-Slavic minorities.
The USSR suffered greatly in the war,
The USSR, in fulfillment of its agreement with the Allies at the Yalta Conference, broke the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact in April 1945 which Japan had been honoring despite their alliance with Germany, and invaded Manchukuo and other Japan-controlled territories on 9 August 1945. This conflict ended with a decisive Soviet victory, contributing to the unconditional surrender of Japan and the end of World War II.
Soviet soldiers committed mass rapes in occupied territories, especially in
The Soviet Union was greatly assisted in its wartime effort by the United States via
Roughly 17.5 million tons of military equipment, vehicles, industrial supplies, and food were shipped from the Western Hemisphere to the USSR, 94% coming from the US. For comparison, a total of 22 million tons landed in Europe to supply American forces from January 1942 to May 1945. It has been estimated that American deliveries to the USSR through the Persian Corridor alone were sufficient, by US Army standards, to maintain sixty combat divisions in the line.
During the immediate post-war period, the Soviet Union rebuilt and expanded its economy, while maintaining its
De-Stalinization and Khrushchev Thaw (1953–64)
Stalin died on 5 March 1953. Without a mutually agreeable successor, the highest Communist Party officials initially opted to rule the Soviet Union jointly through a troika headed by Georgy Malenkov. This did not last, however, and Nikita Khrushchev eventually won the ensuing power struggle by the mid-1950s. In 1956, he denounced Joseph Stalin and proceeded to ease controls over the party and society. This was known as de-Stalinization.
Moscow considered Eastern Europe to be a critically vital buffer zone for the forward defence of its western borders, in case of another major invasion such as the German invasion of 1941. For this reason, the USSR sought to cement its control of the region by transforming the Eastern European countries into satellite states, dependent upon and subservient to its leadership. As a result, Soviet military forces were used to suppress an anti-communist uprising in Hungary in 1956.
In the late 1950s, a confrontation with China regarding the Soviet rapprochement with the West, and what
During this period of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the USSR continued to realize scientific and technological exploits in the Space Race, rivaling the United States: launching the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1 in 1957; a living dog named Laika in 1957; the first human being, Yuri Gagarin in 1961; the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova in 1963; Alexei Leonov, the first person to walk in space in 1965; the first soft landing on the Moon by spacecraft Luna 9 in 1966; and the first Moon rovers, Lunokhod 1 and Lunokhod 2.
Khrushchev initiated 'The Thaw', a complex shift in political, cultural and economic life in the country. This included some openness and contact with other nations and new social and economic policies with more emphasis on commodity goods, allowing a dramatic rise in living standards while maintaining high levels of economic growth. Censorship was relaxed as well. Khrushchev's reforms in agriculture and administration, however, were generally unproductive. In 1962, he precipitated a crisis with the United States over the Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba. An agreement was made with the United States to remove nuclear missiles from both Cuba and Turkey, concluding the crisis. This event caused Khrushchev much embarrassment and loss of prestige, resulting in his removal from power in 1964.
Era of Stagnation (1964–1985)
Following the ousting of Khrushchev, another period of collective leadership ensued, consisting of Leonid Brezhnev as general secretary, Alexei Kosygin as Premier and Nikolai Podgorny as Chairman of the Presidium, lasting until Brezhnev established himself in the early 1970s as the preeminent Soviet leader.
In 1968, the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring reforms. In the aftermath, Brezhnev justified the invasion and previous military interventions, as well as any potential military interventions in the future, by introducing the Brezhnev Doctrine, which proclaimed any threat to Soviet rule in a Warsaw Pact state as a threat to all Warsaw Pact states, therefore justifying military intervention.
Brezhnev presided throughout
In October 1977, the
Perestroika and Glasnost reforms (1985–1991)
Two developments dominated the decade that followed: the increasingly apparent crumbling of the Soviet Union's economic and political structures, and the patchwork attempts at reforms to reverse that process. Kenneth S. Deffeyes argued in Beyond Oil that the Reagan administration encouraged Saudi Arabia to lower the price of oil to the point where the Soviets could not make a profit selling their oil, and resulted in the depletion of the country's hard currency reserves.
Brezhnev's next two successors, transitional figures with deep roots in his tradition, did not last long.
At the same time, the Soviet republics started legal moves towards potentially declaring
Dissolution and aftermath
The remaining 12 republics continued discussing new, increasingly looser, models of the Union. However, by December all except Russia and
On 8 December 1991, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and
The following day, the Supreme Soviet, the highest governmental body, voted both itself and the country out of existence. This is generally recognized as marking the official, final dissolution of the Soviet Union as a functioning state, and the end of the Cold War. The Soviet Army initially remained under overall CIS command but was soon absorbed into the different military forces of the newly independent states. The few remaining Soviet institutions that had not been taken over by Russia ceased to function by the end of 1991.
Following the dissolution, Russia was internationally recognized
In summing up the international ramifications of these events,
The analysis of the succession of states for the 15 post-Soviet states is complex. The Russian Federation is widely seen as the legal continuator state and is for most purposes the heir to the Soviet Union. It retained ownership of all former Soviet embassy properties, inheriting the full Soviet nuclear arsenal, and also inherited the Soviet Union's UN membership, with its permanent seat on the Security Council.
Of the two other co-founding states of the USSR at the time of the dissolution,
The conflict is unsolvable. We can continue to poke Kiev handouts in the calculation of 'solve the problem', only it won't be solved. Going to a trial is also pointless: for a number of European countries this is a political issue, and they will make a decision clearly in whose favor. What to do in this situation is an open question. Search for non-trivial solutions. But we must remember that in 2014, with the filing of the then Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, litigation with Russia resumed in 32 countries.
Similar situation occurred with restitution of cultural property. Although on 14 February 1992 Russia and other former Soviet republics signed agreement 'On the return of cultural and historic property to the origin states' in Minsk, it was halted by the Russian State Duma that eventually passed 'Federal Law on Cultural Valuables Displaced to the USSR as a Result of the Second World War and Located on the Territory of the Russian Federation' which made restitution currently impossible, effectively barring the return of looted cultural heritage by Soviet troops during the Second World War to its original owners.
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania consider themselves as revivals of the three independent countries that existed prior to their occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union in 1940. They maintain that the process by which they were incorporated into the Soviet Union violated both international law and their own law, and that in 1990–1991 they were reasserting an independence that still legally existed.
Nearly all of the post-Soviet states suffered deep and prolonged recessions after shock therapy, with poverty increasing more than tenfold. In a 2001 study by the economist Steven Rosefielde, he calculated that there were 3.4 million premature deaths in Russia from 1990 to 1998, which he partly blames on the "shock therapy" that came with the Washington Consensus.
In 2011, The Guardian published an analysis of the former Soviet countries twenty years after the fall of the USSR. They found that "GDP fell as much as 50 percent in the 1990s in some republics... as capital flight, industrial collapse, hyperinflation and tax avoidance took their toll," but that there was a rebound in the 2000s, and by 2010 "some economies were five times as big as they were in 1991." Life expectancy has grown since 1991 in some of the countries, but fallen in others; likewise, some held free and fair elections, while others remained authoritarian.
There are additionally six states that claim independence from the other internationally recognized post-Soviet states but possess limited international recognition: Abkhazia, Artsakh, Donetsk, Luhansk, South Ossetia and Transnistria. The Chechen separatist movement of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, the Gagauz separatist movement of the Gagauz Republic and the Talysh separatist movement of the Talysh-Mughan Autonomous Republic are other such cases which have already been resolved.
With an area of 22,402,200 square kilometres (8,649,500 sq mi), the Soviet Union was the world's largest country, a status that is retained by the Russian Federation. Covering a sixth of Earth's land surface, its size was comparable to that of North America. Two other successor states, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, rank among the top 10 countries by land area, and the largest country entirely in Europe, respectively. The European portion accounted for a quarter of the country's area and was the cultural and economic center. The eastern part in Asia extended to the Pacific Ocean to the east and Afghanistan to the south, and, except some areas in Central Asia, was much less populous. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
The USSR, like Russia, had the world's longest border, measuring over 60,000 kilometres (37,000 mi), or 1+1⁄2 circumferences of Earth. Two-thirds of it was a coastline. The country bordered Afghanistan, the People's Republic of China, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Hungary, Iran, Mongolia, North Korea, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Turkey from 1945 to 1991. The Bering Strait separated the USSR from the United States.
The country's highest mountain was Communism Peak (now Ismoil Somoni Peak) in Tajikistan, at 7,495 metres (24,590 ft). The USSR also included most of the world's largest lakes; the Caspian Sea (shared with Iran), and Lake Baikal, the world's largest (by volume) and deepest freshwater lake that is also an internal body of water in Russia.
Government and politics
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There were three power hierarchies in the Soviet Union: the legislature represented by the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, the government represented by the Council of Ministers, and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), the only legal party and the final policymaker in the country.
At the top of the Communist Party was the Central Committee, elected at Party Congresses and Conferences. In turn, the Central Committee voted for a Politburo (called the Presidium between 1952 and 1966), Secretariat and the general secretary (First Secretary from 1953 to 1966), the de facto highest office in the Soviet Union. Depending on the degree of power consolidation, it was either the Politburo as a collective body or the General Secretary, who always was one of the Politburo members, that effectively led the party and the country (except for the period of the highly personalized authority of Stalin, exercised directly through his position in the Council of Ministers rather than the Politburo after 1941). They were not controlled by the general party membership, as the key principle of the party organization was democratic centralism, demanding strict subordination to higher bodies, and elections went uncontested, endorsing the candidates proposed from above.
The Communist Party maintained its dominance over the state mainly through its control over the
However, in practice the degree of control the party was able to exercise over the state bureaucracy, particularly after the death of Stalin, was far from total, with the bureaucracy pursuing different interests that were at times in conflict with the party, nor was the party itself monolithic from top to bottom, although factions were officially banned.
The state security police (the KGB and its predecessor agencies) played an important role in Soviet politics. It was instrumental in the Red Terror and Great Purge, but was brought under strict party control after Stalin's death. Under Yuri Andropov, the KGB engaged in the suppression of political dissent and maintained an extensive network of informers, reasserting itself as a political actor to some extent independent of the party-state structure, culminating in the anti-corruption campaign targeting high-ranking party officials in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Separation of power and reform
Between 1988 and 1990, facing considerable opposition, Mikhail Gorbachev enacted reforms shifting power away from the highest bodies of the party and making the Supreme Soviet less dependent on them. The Congress of People's Deputies was established, the majority of whose members were directly elected in competitive elections held in March 1989, the first in Soviet history. The Congress now elected the Supreme Soviet, which became a full-time parliament, and much stronger than before. For the first time since the 1920s, it refused to rubber stamp proposals from the party and Council of Ministers. In 1990, Gorbachev introduced and assumed the position of the President of the Soviet Union, concentrated power in his executive office, independent of the party, and subordinated the government, now renamed the Cabinet of Ministers of the USSR, to himself.
Tensions grew between the Union-wide authorities under Gorbachev, reformists led in Russia by Boris Yeltsin and controlling the newly elected Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR, and communist hardliners. On 19–21 August 1991, a group of hardliners staged a coup attempt. The coup failed, and the State Council of the Soviet Union became the highest organ of state power 'in the period of transition'. Gorbachev resigned as General Secretary, only remaining President for the final months of the existence of the USSR.
The judiciary was not independent of the other branches of government. The Supreme Court supervised the lower courts (People's Court) and applied the law as established by the constitution or as interpreted by the Supreme Soviet. The Constitutional Oversight Committee reviewed the constitutionality of laws and acts. The Soviet Union used the inquisitorial system of Roman law, where the judge, procurator, and defence attorney collaborate to "establish the truth".
The Soviet conception of human rights was very different from
The Soviet Union signed legally-binding human rights documents, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1973, but they were neither widely known or accessible to people living under Communist rule, nor were they taken seriously by the Communist authorities.: 117
During his rule, Stalin always made the final policy decisions. Otherwise, Soviet foreign policy was set by the commission on the Foreign Policy of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, or by the party's highest body the Politburo. Operations were handled by the separate Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was known as the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (or Narkomindel), until 1946. The most influential spokesmen were Georgy Chicherin (1872–1936), Maxim Litvinov (1876–1951), Vyacheslav Molotov (1890–1986), Andrey Vyshinsky (1883–1954) and Andrei Gromyko (1909–1989). Intellectuals were based in the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
- Comintern (1919–1943), or Communist International, was an international communist organization based in the Kremlin that advocated world communism. The Comintern intended to 'struggle by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the state'. It was abolished as a conciliatory measure toward Britain and the United States.
- Comecon, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Russian: Совет Экономической Взаимопомощи, Sovet Ekonomicheskoy Vzaimopomoshchi, СЭВ, SEV) was an economic organization from 1949 to 1991 under Soviet control that comprised the countries of the Eastern Bloc along with several communist states elsewhere in the world. Moscow was concerned about the Marshall Plan, and Comecon was meant to prevent countries in the Soviets' sphere of influence from moving towards that of the Americans and Southeast Asia. Comecon was the Eastern Bloc's reply to the formation in Western Europe of the Organization for European Economic Co-Operation (OEEC),
- The Cominform (1947–1956), informally the Communist Information Bureau and officially the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers' Parties, was the first official agency of the international Marxist-Leninist movement since the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943. Its role was to coordinate actions between Marxist-Leninist parties under Soviet direction. Stalin used it to order Western European communist parties to abandon their exclusively parliamentarian line and instead concentrate on politically impeding the operations of the Marshall Plan, the U.S. program of rebuilding Europe after the war and developing its economy. It also coordinated international aid to Marxist-Leninist insurgents during the Greek Civil War in 1947–1949. It expelled Yugoslavia in 1948 after Josip Broz Tito insisted on an independent program. Its newspaper, For a Lasting Peace, for a People's Democracy!, promoted Stalin's positions. The Cominform's concentration on Europe meant a deemphasis on world revolution in Soviet foreign policy. By enunciating a uniform ideology, it allowed the constituent parties to focus on personalities rather than issues.
Early policies (1919–1939)
The Marxist-Leninist leadership of the Soviet Union intensely debated foreign policy issues and changed directions several times. Even after Stalin assumed dictatorial control in the late 1920s, there were debates, and he frequently changed positions.
During the country's early period, it was assumed that Communist revolutions would break out soon in every major industrial country, and it was the Russian responsibility to assist them. The Comintern was the weapon of choice. A few revolutions did break out, but they were quickly suppressed (the longest lasting one was in Hungary)—the Hungarian Soviet Republic—lasted only from 21 March 1919 to 1 August 1919. The Russian Bolsheviks were in no position to give any help.
By 1921, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin realized that capitalism had stabilized itself in Europe and there would not be any widespread revolutions anytime soon. It became the duty of the Russian Bolsheviks to protect what they had in Russia, and avoid military confrontations that might destroy their bridgehead. Russia was now a pariah state, along with Germany. The two came to terms in 1922 with the
Moscow eventually stopped threatening other states, and instead worked to open peaceful relationships in terms of trade, and diplomatic recognition. The United Kingdom dismissed the warnings of Winston Churchill and a few others about a continuing Marxist-Leninist threat, and opened trade relations and de facto diplomatic recognition in 1922. There was hope for a settlement of the pre-war Tsarist debts, but it was repeatedly postponed. Formal recognition came when the new Labour Party came to power in 1924. All the other countries followed suit in opening trade relations. Henry Ford opened large-scale business relations with the Soviets in the late 1920s, hoping that it would lead to long-term peace. Finally, in 1933, the United States officially recognized the USSR, a decision backed by the public opinion and especially by US business interests that expected an opening of a new profitable market.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Stalin ordered Marxist-Leninist parties across the world to strongly oppose non-Marxist political parties, labor unions or other organizations on the left, which they labelled
The rapid growth of power in Nazi Germany encouraged both Paris and Moscow to form a military alliance, and the Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance was signed in May 1935. A firm believer in collective security, Stalin's foreign minister Maxim Litvinov worked very hard to form a closer relationship with France and Britain.
In 1939, half a year after the Munich Agreement, the USSR attempted to form an anti-Nazi alliance with France and Britain. Adolf Hitler proposed a better deal, which would give the USSR control over much of Eastern Europe through the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. In September, Germany invaded Poland, and the USSR also invaded later that month, resulting in the partition of Poland. In response, Britain and France declared war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II.
World War II (1939–1945)
Up until his death in 1953, Joseph Stalin controlled all foreign relations of the Soviet Union during the interwar period. Despite the increasing build-up of Germany's war machine and the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Soviet Union did not cooperate with any other nation, choosing to follow its own path. However, after Operation Barbarossa, the Soviet Union's priorities changed. Despite previous conflict with the United Kingdom, Vyacheslav Molotov dropped his post war border demands.
Cold War (1945–1991)
The Cold War was a period of
Constitutionally, the USSR was a federation of constituent Union Republics, which were either unitary states, such as
While nominally a union of equals, in practice the Soviet Union was dominated by Russians. The domination was so absolute that for most of its existence, the country was commonly (but incorrectly) referred to as 'Russia'. While the Russian SFSR was technically only one republic within the larger union, it was by far the largest (both in terms of population and area), most powerful, and most highly developed. The Russian SFSR was also the industrial center of the Soviet Union. Historian Matthew White wrote that it was an open secret that the country's federal structure was 'window dressing' for Russian dominance. For that reason, the people of the USSR were usually called 'Russians', not 'Soviets', since 'everyone knew who really ran the show'.
|Republic||Map of the Union Republics between 1956 and 1991|
Under the Military Law of September 1925, the
The army had the greatest political influence. In 1989, there served two million soldiers divided between 150 motorized and 52 armored divisions. Until the early 1960s, the Soviet navy was a rather small military branch, but after the
In the post-war period, the Soviet Army was directly involved in several military operations abroad. These included the suppression of the uprising in East Germany (1953), Hungarian revolution (1956) and the invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968). The Soviet Union also participated in the war in Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989.
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The Soviet Union adopted a
After a long debate among the members of the Politburo about the course of economic development, by 1928–1929, upon gaining control of the country, Stalin abandoned the NEP and pushed for full central planning, starting
By the early 1940s, the Soviet economy had become relatively self-sufficient; for most of the period until the creation of Comecon, only a tiny share of domestic products was traded internationally. After the creation of the Eastern Bloc, external trade rose rapidly. However, the influence of the world economy on the USSR was limited by fixed domestic prices and a state monopoly on foreign trade. Grain and sophisticated consumer manufactures became major import articles from around the 1960s. During the arms race of the Cold War, the Soviet economy was burdened by military expenditures, heavily lobbied for by a powerful bureaucracy dependent on the arms industry. At the same time, the USSR became the largest arms exporter to the Third World. A portion of Soviet resources during the Cold War were allocated in aid to the Soviet-aligned states. The Soviet Union's military budget in the 1970s was gigantic, forming 40–60% of the entire federal budget and accounting to 15% of the USSR's GDP (13% in the 1980s).
From the 1930s until its dissolution in late 1991, the way the Soviet economy operated remained essentially unchanged. The economy was formally directed by
A number of basic services were state-funded, such as education and health care. In the manufacturing sector, heavy industry and defence were prioritized over consumer goods. Consumer goods, particularly outside large cities, were often scarce, of poor quality and limited variety. Under the command economy, consumers had almost no influence on production, and the changing demands of a population with growing incomes could not be satisfied by supplies at rigidly fixed prices. A massive unplanned second economy grew up at low levels alongside the planned one, providing some of the goods and services that the planners could not. The legalization of some elements of the decentralized economy was attempted with the reform of 1965.
Although statistics of the Soviet economy are notoriously unreliable and its economic growth difficult to estimate precisely, by most accounts, the economy continued to expand until the mid-1980s. During the 1950s and 1960s, it had comparatively high growth and was catching up to the West. However, after 1970, the growth, while still positive, steadily declined much more quickly and consistently than in other countries, despite a rapid increase in the capital stock (the rate of capital increase was only surpassed by Japan).
Overall, the growth rate of per capita income in the Soviet Union between 1960 and 1989 was slightly above the world average (based on 102 countries). A 1986 study published in the American Journal of Public Health claimed that, citing World Bank data, the Soviet model provided a better quality of life and human development than market economies at the same level of economic development in most cases. According to Stanley Fischer and William Easterly, growth could have been faster. By their calculation, per capita income in 1989 should have been twice higher than it was, considering the amount of investment, education and population. The authors attribute this poor performance to the low productivity of capital. Steven Rosefielde states that the standard of living declined due to Stalin's despotism. While there was a brief improvement after his death, it lapsed into stagnation.
In 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev attempted to reform and revitalize the economy with his program of perestroika. His policies relaxed state control over enterprises but did not replace it by market incentives, resulting in a sharp decline in output. The economy, already suffering from reduced petroleum export revenues, started to collapse. Prices were still fixed, and the property was still largely state-owned until after the country's dissolution. For most of the period after World War II until its collapse, Soviet GDP (PPP) was the second-largest in the world, and third during the second half of the 1980s, although on a per-capita basis, it was behind that of First World countries. Compared to countries with similar per-capita GDP in 1928, the Soviet Union experienced significant growth.
In 1990, the country had a Human Development Index of 0.920, placing it in the 'high' category of human development. It was the third-highest in the Eastern Bloc, behind Czechoslovakia and East Germany, and the 25th in the world of 130 countries.
The need for fuel declined in the Soviet Union from the 1970s to the 1980s, both per ruble of gross social product and per ruble of industrial product. At the start, this decline grew very rapidly but gradually slowed down between 1970 and 1975. From 1975 and 1980, it grew even slower,[clarification needed] only 2.6%. David Wilson, a historian, believed that the gas industry would account for 40% of Soviet fuel production by the end of the century. His theory did not come to fruition because of the USSR's collapse. The USSR, in theory, would have continued to have an economic growth rate of 2–2.5% during the 1990s because of Soviet energy fields.[clarification needed] However, the energy sector faced many difficulties, among them the country's high military expenditure and hostile relations with the First World.
In 1991, the Soviet Union had a
Science and technology
The Soviet Union placed great emphasis on
Under the Reagan administration, Project Socrates determined that the Soviet Union addressed the acquisition of science and technology in a manner that was radically different from what the US was using. In the case of the US, economic prioritization was being used for indigenous research and development as the means to acquire science and technology in both the private and public sectors. In contrast, the USSR was offensively and defensively maneuvering in the acquisition and use of the worldwide technology, to increase the competitive advantage that they acquired from the technology while preventing the US from acquiring a competitive advantage. However, technology-based planning was executed in a centralized, government-centric manner that greatly hindered its flexibility. This was exploited by the US to undermine the strength of the Soviet Union and thus foster its reform.
At the end of the 1950s, the USSR constructed the first
In terms of the
In the 1970s, specific proposals for the design of s space shuttle emerged, but shortcomings, especially in the electronics industry (rapid overheating of electronics), postponed it till the end of the 1980s. The first shuttle, the Buran, flew in 1988, but without a human crew. Another, Ptichka, endured prolonged construction and was canceled in 1991. For their launch into space, there is today an unused superpower rocket, Energia, which is the most powerful in the world.
In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union built the Mir orbital station. It was built on the construction of Salyut stations and its only role was civilian-grade research tasks. Mir was the only orbital station in operation from 1986 to 1998. Gradually, other modules were added to it, including American modules. However, the station deteriorated rapidly after a fire on board, so in 2001 it was decided to bring it into the atmosphere where it burned down.
Transport was a vital component of the country's economy. The economic centralization of the late 1920s and 1930s led to the development of infrastructure on a massive scale, most notably the establishment of Aeroflot, an aviation enterprise. The country had a wide variety of modes of transport by land, water and air. However, due to inadequate maintenance, much of the road, water and Soviet civil aviation transport were outdated and technologically backward compared to the First World.
Soviet rail transport was the largest and most intensively used in the world; it was also better developed than most of its Western counterparts. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Soviet economists were calling for the construction of more roads to alleviate some of the burdens from the railways and to improve the Soviet government budget. The street network and automotive industry remained underdeveloped, and dirt roads were common outside major cities. Soviet maintenance projects proved unable to take care of even the few roads the country had. By the early-to-mid-1980s, the Soviet authorities tried to solve the road problem by ordering the construction of new ones. Meanwhile, the automobile industry was growing at a faster rate than road construction. The underdeveloped road network led to a growing demand for public transport.
Despite improvements, several aspects of the transport sector were still[when?] riddled with problems due to outdated infrastructure, lack of investment, corruption and bad decision-making. Soviet authorities were unable to meet the growing demand for transport infrastructure and services.
Excess deaths throughout
The birth rate of the USSR decreased from 44.0 per thousand in 1926 to 18.0 in 1974, mainly due to increasing urbanization and the rising average age of marriages. The mortality rate demonstrated a gradual decrease as well—from 23.7 per thousand in 1926 to 8.7 in 1974. In general, the birth rates of the southern republics in Transcaucasia and Central Asia were considerably higher than those in the northern parts of the Soviet Union, and in some cases even increased in the post–World War II period, a phenomenon partly attributed to slower rates of urbanization and traditionally earlier marriages in the southern republics. Soviet Europe moved towards sub-replacement fertility, while Soviet Central Asia continued to exhibit population growth well above replacement-level fertility.
The late 1960s and the 1970s witnessed a reversal of the declining trajectory of the rate of mortality in the USSR, and was especially notable among men of working age, but was also prevalent in Russia and other predominantly Slavic areas of the country. An analysis of the official data from the late 1980s showed that after worsening in the late-1970s and the early 1980s, adult mortality began to improve again. The infant mortality rate increased from 24.7 in 1970 to 27.9 in 1974. Some researchers regarded the rise as mostly real, a consequence of worsening health conditions and services. The rises in both adult and infant mortality were not explained or defended by Soviet officials, and the Soviet government stopped publishing all mortality statistics for ten years. Soviet demographers and health specialists remained silent about the mortality increases until the late-1980s, when the publication of mortality data resumed, and researchers could delve into the real causes.
Women and fertility
Under Lenin, the state made explicit commitments to promote the equality of men and women. Many early Russian feminists and ordinary Russian working women actively participated in the Revolution, and many more were affected by the events of that period and the new policies. Beginning in October 1918, Lenin's government liberalized divorce and abortion laws, decriminalized homosexuality (re-criminalized in 1932), permitted cohabitation, and ushered in a host of reforms. However, without birth control, the new system produced many broken marriages, as well as countless out-of-wedlock children. The epidemic of divorces and extramarital affairs created social hardships when Soviet leaders wanted people to concentrate their efforts on growing the economy. Giving women control over their fertility also led to a precipitous decline in the birth rate, perceived as a threat to their country's military power. By 1936, Stalin reversed most of the liberal laws, ushering in a pronatalist era that lasted for decades.
By 1917, Russia became the first great power to grant women the right to vote. After heavy casualties in World War I and II, women outnumbered men in Russia by a 4:3 ratio. This contributed to the larger role women played in Russian society compared to other great powers at the time.
The education system was highly centralized and universally accessible to all citizens, with affirmative action for applicants from nations associated with cultural backwardness. However, as part of a general antisemitic policy, an unofficial Jewish quota was applied[when?] in the leading institutions of higher education by subjecting Jewish applicants to harsher entrance examinations. The Brezhnev era also introduced a rule that required all university applicants to present a reference from the local Komsomol party secretary. According to statistics from 1986, the number of higher education students per the population of 10,000 was 181 for the USSR, compared to 517 for the US.
Nationalities and ethnic groups
The Soviet Union was an ethnically diverse country, with more than 100 distinct ethnic groups. The total population of the country was estimated at 293 million in 1991. According to a 1990 estimate, the majority of the population were Russians (50.78%), followed by Ukrainians (15.45%) and Uzbeks (5.84%). Overall, in 1989 the ethnic demography of the country showed that 69.8% was East Slavic, 17.5% was Turkic, 1.6% were Armenians, 1.6% were Balts, 1.5% were Finnic, 1.5% were Tajik, 1.4% were Georgian, 1.2% were Moldovan and 4.1% were of other various ethnic groups.
All citizens of the USSR had their own ethnic affiliation. The ethnicity of a person was chosen at the age of sixteen by the child's parents. If the parents did not agree, the child was automatically assigned the ethnicity of the father. Partly due to Soviet policies, some of the smaller minority ethnic groups were considered part of larger ones, such as the Mingrelians of Georgia, who were classified with the linguistically related Georgians. Some ethnic groups voluntarily assimilated, while others were brought in by force. Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians, who were all East Slavic and Orthodox, shared close cultural, ethnic, and religious ties, while other groups did not. With multiple nationalities living in the same territory, ethnic antagonisms developed over the years.[neutrality is disputed]
Members of various ethnicities participated in legislative bodies. Organs of power like the Politburo, the Secretariat of the Central Committee etc., were formally ethnically neutral, but in reality, ethnic Russians were overrepresented, although there were also non-Russian leaders in the Soviet leadership, such as Joseph Stalin, Grigory Zinoviev, Nikolai Podgorny or Andrei Gromyko. During the Soviet era, a significant number of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians migrated to other Soviet republics, and many of them settled there. According to the last census in 1989, the Russian 'diaspora' in the Soviet republics had reached 25 million.
Ethnographic map of the Soviet Union, 1941
Ethnographic map of the Soviet Union, 1970
In 1917, before the revolution, health conditions were significantly behind those of developed countries. As Lenin later noted, "Either the lice will defeat socialism, or socialism will defeat the lice".
After the revolution, life expectancy for all age groups went up. This statistic in itself was seen by some that the
Soviet dental technology and dental health were considered notoriously bad. In 1991, the average 35-year-old had 12 to 14 cavities, fillings or missing teeth. Toothpaste was often not available, and toothbrushes did not conform to standards of modern dentistry.
Under Lenin, the government gave small language groups their own writing systems. The development of these writing systems was highly successful, even though some flaws were detected. During the later days of the USSR, countries with the same multilingual situation implemented similar policies. A serious problem when creating these writing systems was that the languages differed dialectally greatly from each other. When a language had been given a writing system and appeared in a notable publication, it would attain 'official language' status. There were many minority languages which never received their own writing system; therefore, their speakers were forced to have a second language. There are examples where the government retreated from this policy, most notably under Stalin where education was discontinued in languages that were not widespread. These languages were then assimilated into another language, mostly Russian. During World War II, some minority languages were banned, and their speakers accused of collaborating with the enemy.
As the most widely spoken of the Soviet Union's many languages, Russian de facto functioned as an official language, as the 'language of interethnic communication' (Russian: язык межнационального общения), but only assumed the de jure status as the official national language in 1990.
Religious influence had been strong in the Russian Empire. The Russian Orthodox Church enjoyed a privileged status as the church of the monarchy and took part in carrying out official state functions. The immediate period following the establishment of the Soviet state included a struggle against the Orthodox Church, which the revolutionaries considered an ally of the former ruling classes.
In Soviet law, the 'freedom to hold religious services' was constitutionally guaranteed, although the ruling Communist Party regarded religion as incompatible with the Marxist spirit of scientific materialism. In practice, the Soviet system subscribed to a narrow interpretation of this right, and in fact used a range of official measures to discourage religion and curb the activities of religious groups.
More than 85,000 Orthodox priests were shot in 1937 alone. Only a twelfth of the Russian Orthodox Church's priests were left functioning in their parishes by 1941. In the period between 1927 and 1940, the number of Orthodox Churches in Russia fell from 29,584 to less than 500 (1.7%).
The Soviet Union was officially a
Convinced that religious anti-Sovietism had become a thing of the past, and with the looming threat of war, the Stalin regime began shifting to a more moderate religion policy in the late 1930s. Soviet religious establishments overwhelmingly rallied to support the war effort during World War II. Amid other accommodations to religious faith after the German invasion, churches were reopened. Radio Moscow began broadcasting a religious hour, and a historic meeting between Stalin and Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Sergius of Moscow was held in 1943. Stalin had the support of the majority of the religious people in the USSR even through the late 1980s. The general tendency of this period was an increase in religious activity among believers of all faiths.
Under Nikita Khrushchev, the state leadership clashed with the churches in 1958–1964, a period when atheism was emphasized in the educational curriculum, and numerous state publications promoted atheistic views. During this period, the number of churches fell from 20,000 to 10,000 from 1959 to 1965, and the number of synagogues dropped from 500 to 97. The number of working mosques also declined, falling from 1,500 to 500 within a decade.
Religious institutions remained monitored by the Soviet government, but churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques were all given more leeway in the
The legacy of the USSR remains a controversial topic. The socio-economic nature of communist states such as the USSR, especially under Stalin, has also been much debated, varyingly being labelled a form of bureaucratic collectivism, state capitalism, state socialism, or a totally unique mode of production. The USSR implemented a broad range of policies over a long period of time, with a large amount of conflicting policies being implemented by different leaders. Some have a positive view of it whilst others are critical towards the country, calling it a repressive oligarchy. The opinions on the USSR are complex and have changed over time, with different generations having different views on the matter as well as on Soviet policies corresponding to separate time periods during its history.
Western academicians published various analyses of the post-Soviet states' development, claiming that the dissolution was followed by a severe drop in economic and social conditions in these countries,
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, annual polling by the Levada Center has shown that over 50% of Russia's population regretted this event, with the only exception to this being in the year 2012 when support for the Soviet Union dipped below 50 percent. A 2018 poll showed that 66% of Russians regretted the fall of the Soviet Union, setting a 15-year record, and the majority of these regretting opinions came from people older than 55. In 2020, polls conducted by the Levada Center found that 75% of Russians agreed that the Soviet era was the greatest era in their country's history.
According to the New Russia Barometer (NRB) polls by the Centre for the Study of Public Policy, 50% of Russian respondents reported a positive impression of the Soviet Union in 1991. This increased to about 75% of NRB respondents in 2000, dropping slightly to 71% in 2009. Throughout the 2000s, an average of 32% of NRB respondents supported the restoration of the Soviet Union.
In a 2021 poll, a record 70% of
The 1941–1945 period of World War II is still known in Russia as the 'Great Patriotic War'. The war became a topic of great importance in cinema, literature, history lessons at school, the mass media, and the arts. As a result of the massive losses suffered by the military and civilians during the conflict, Victory Day celebrated on 9 May is still one of the most important and emotional dates in Russia. Catherine Wanner asserts that Victory Day commemorations are a vehicle for Soviet nostalgia, as they "kept alive a mythology of Soviet grandeur, of solidarity among the Sovietskii narod, and of a sense of self as citizen of a superpower state".
Russian Victory Day parades are organized annually in most cities, with the central military parade taking place in Moscow (just as during the Soviet times). Additionally, the recently introduced Immortal Regiment on May 9 sees millions of Russians carry the portraits of their relatives who fought in the war. Russia also retains other Soviet holidays, such as the Defender of the Fatherland Day (February 23), International Women's Day (March 8), and International Workers' Day.
In the former Soviet republics
In some post-Soviet republics, there is a more negative view of the USSR, although there is no unanimity on the matter. In large part due to the
By the political left
The left's view of the USSR is complex. While some leftists regard the USSR as an example of state capitalism or that it was an oligarchical state, other leftists admire
Anarchists are also critical of the country, labeling the Soviet system as red fascism. Factors contributing to the anarchist animosity towards the USSR included the Soviet destruction of the Makhnovist movement after an initial alliance, the suppression of the anarchist Kronstadt rebellion, and the defeat of the rival anarchist factions by the Soviet-supported Communist faction during the Spanish Civil War.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) released a press statement titled "We welcome the end of a party which embodied the historical evil of great power chauvinism and hegemonism".
Noam Chomsky called the collapse of the Soviet Union "a small victory for socialism, not only because of the fall of one of the most anti-socialist states in the world, where working people had fewer rights than in the West, but also because it freed the term 'socialism' from the burden of being associated in the propaganda systems of East and West with Soviet tyranny — for the East, in order to benefit from the aura of authentic socialism, for the West, in order to demonize the concept."
The culture of the Soviet Union passed through several stages during the USSR's existence. During the first decade following the revolution, there was relative freedom and artists experimented with several different styles to find a distinctive Soviet style of art. Lenin wanted art to be accessible to the Russian people. On the other hand, hundreds of intellectuals, writers, and artists were exiled or executed, and their work banned, such as
The government encouraged a variety of trends. In art and literature, numerous schools, some traditional and others radically experimental, proliferated. Communist writers Maxim Gorky and Vladimir Mayakovsky were active during this time. As a means of influencing a largely illiterate society, films received encouragement from the state, and much of director Sergei Eisenstein's best work dates from this period.
During Stalin's rule, the Soviet culture was characterized by the rise and domination of the government-imposed style of socialist realism, with all other trends being severely repressed, with rare exceptions, such as Mikhail Bulgakov's works. Many writers were imprisoned and killed.
Following the Khrushchev Thaw, censorship was diminished. During this time, a distinctive period of Soviet culture developed, characterized by conformist public life and an intense focus on personal life. Greater experimentation in art forms was again permissible, resulting in the production of more sophisticated and subtly critical work. The regime loosened its emphasis on socialist realism; thus, for instance, many protagonists of the novels of author Yury Trifonov concerned themselves with problems of daily life rather than with building socialism. Underground dissident literature, known as samizdat, developed during this late period. In architecture, the Khrushchev era mostly focused on functional design as opposed to the highly decorated style of Stalin's epoch. In music, in response to the increasing popularity of forms of popular music like jazz in the West, many jazz orchestras were permitted throughout the USSR, notably the Melodiya Ensemble, named after the principle record label in the USSR.
In the second half of the 1980s, Gorbachev's policies of
Founded on 20 July 1924 in Moscow, Sovetsky Sport was the first sports newspaper of the Soviet Union.
On 13 July 1925 the
Soviet Olympic team was notorious for skirting the edge of amateur rules. All Soviet athletes held some nominal jobs, but were in fact state-sponsored and trained full-time. According to many experts, that gave the Soviet Union a huge advantage over the United States and other Western countries, whose athletes were students or real amateurs. Indeed, the Soviet Union monopolized the top place in the medal standings after 1968, and, until its collapse, placed second only once, in the 1984 Winter games, after another Eastern bloc nation, the GDR. Amateur rules were relaxed only in the late 1980s and were almost completely abolished in the 1990s, after the fall of the USSR.
A member of the IOC Medical Commission, Manfred Donike, privately ran additional tests with a new technique for identifying abnormal levels of testosterone by measuring its ratio to epitestosterone in urine. Twenty percent of the specimens he tested, including those from sixteen gold medalists, would have resulted in disciplinary proceedings had the tests been official. The results of Donike's unofficial tests later convinced the IOC to add his new technique to their testing protocols. The first documented case of 'blood doping' occurred at the 1980 Summer Olympics when a runner[who?] was transfused with two pints of blood before winning medals in the 5000 m and 10,000 m.
Documents obtained in 2016 revealed the Soviet Union's plans for a statewide doping system in track and field in preparation for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Dated prior to the country's decision to boycott the Games, the document detailed the existing steroids operations of the program, along with suggestions for further enhancements. The communication, directed to the Soviet Union's head of track and field, was prepared by Sergei Portugalov of the Institute for Physical Culture. Portugalov was also one of the main figures involved in the implementation of the Russian doping program prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The Soviet Union covered an area of over 22,402,200 square kilometres (8,649,500 sq mi), and was the world's largest country, a status that is retained by its successor state, Russia. It covered a sixth of Earth's land surface, and its size was comparable to the continent of North America. Its western part in Europe accounted for a quarter of the country's area and was the cultural and economic center. The eastern part in Asia extended to the Pacific Ocean to the east and Afghanistan to the south, and, except some areas in Central Asia, was much less populous. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across eleven time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
The Soviet Union, similarly to modern Russia, had the world's longest border, measuring over 60,000 kilometres (37,000 mi), or 1+1⁄2 circumferences of Earth. Two-thirds of it was a coastline. The country bordered (from 1945 to 1991): Norway, Finland, the Baltic Sea, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, the Black Sea, Turkey, Iran, the Caspian Sea, Afghanistan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. The Bering Strait separated the country from the United States, while the La Pérouse Strait separated it from Japan.
The Soviet Union's highest mountain was Communism Peak (now Ismoil Somoni Peak) in Tajik SSR, at 7,495 metres (24,590 ft). It also included most of the world's largest lakes; the Caspian Sea (shared with Iran), and Lake Baikal in Russia, the world's largest and deepest freshwater lake.
Neighbouring countries were aware of the high levels of pollution in the Soviet Union
- De facto, legally since 1990. Constituent republics had the right to declare their own regional languages.
- As chairman of the Council of People's Commissars.
- As General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and chairman of the Council of People's Commissars (then the Council of Ministers).
- As chairman of the Council of Ministers.
- As First Secretary of the Communist Party.
- As General Secretary of the Communist Party.
- As General Secretary of the Communist Party and President of the Soviet Union.
- as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet
- as President
- as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Soviet Union and Russian SFSR
- as Prime Minister
- The Alma-Ata Protocol was signed by the remaining 11 of 12 republics on 21 December 1991.
- Declaration № 142-Н of the Soviet of the Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, formally establishing the dissolution of the Soviet Union as a state and subject of international law (in Russian).
- Assigned on 19 September 1990, existing onwards.
- Russian: Советский Союз, tr. Sovetsky Soyuz, IPA: [sɐˈvʲetskʲɪj sɐˈjus] ⓘ.
- Russian: Союз Советских Социалистических Республик, tr. Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik, IPA: [sɐˈjus sɐˈvʲetskʲɪx sətsɨəlʲɪˈsʲtʲitɕɪskʲɪx rʲɪˈspublʲɪk] ⓘ.
- Russian: СССР, tr. SSSR.
- Named the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic in 1918, then renamed the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in 1936.
- Ukrainian: рада (rada); Polish: rada; Belarusian: савет/рада; Uzbek: совет; Kazakh: совет / кеңес (sovet / kenges); Georgian: საბჭოთა (sabch′ota); Azerbaijani: совет; Lithuanian: taryba; Romanian: soviet (Moldovan Cyrillic: совиет); Latvian: padome; Kyrgyz: совет; Tajik: шӯравӣ / совет (šūravī / sovet); Armenian: խորհուրդ / սովետ (xorhurd / sovet); Turkmen: совет; Estonian: nõukogu.
- The consolidation into a one-party state took place during the first three and a half years after the revolution, which included the period of War communism and an election in which multiple parties competed. See Schapiro, Leonard (1955). The Origin of the Communist Autocracy: Political Opposition in the Soviet State, First Phase 1917–1922. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
- "In War II Russia occupies a dominant position and is the decisive factor looking toward the defeat of the Axis in Europe. While in Sicily the forces of Great Britain and the United States are being opposed by 2 German divisions, the Russian front is receiving attention of approximately 200 German divisions. Whenever the Allies open a second front on the Continent, it will be decidedly a secondary front to that of Russia; theirs will continue to be the main effort. Without Russia in the war, the Axis cannot be defeated in Europe, and the position of the United Nations becomes precarious. Similarly, Russia's post-war position in Europe will be a dominant one. With Germany crushed, there is no power in Europe to oppose her tremendous military forces."
- 34,374,483 km2.
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The proletarian state must effect the transition to collective farming with extreme caution and only very gradually, by the force of example, without any coercion of the middle peasant.
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