You can’t talk about American history without talking about the Soviet Union. The Cold War raged for 40 years after World War II until the Soviet Union was dissolved. Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Cuban Missile Crisis… So many different things in our history are tied to the Soviet Union yet up until very recently, we haven’t really viewed the Russians as anything to worry about. Given that the Soviet Union was such an important important of history, what caused the dissolution of the Soviet Union?
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev was elected the head of the Communist Party for the Soviet Union. At the age of 54, he was the youngest Politburo member. Gorbachev immediately began a campaign of liberalization. This allowed for open acts of defiance against the Soviet Union that eventually caused its dissolution.
In 1986, the first openly anti-communist organization was formed in the Latvian port town of Liepāja and was called Helsinki-86.
In 1987, Gorbachev instituted a policy that allowed criticism of the government. Additionally, Boris Yeltsin (who has just joined the Politburo two years prior) formally submitted his resignation, citing Gorbachev as the major reason. This is significant because before this moment no one had ever resigned from the Politburo. Yeltsin would eventually become Gorbachev’s successor.
In 1988, the Soviet Union stopped efforts to block foreign radio signals from entering their territory.
In 1989, a series of revolutions broke out in the Soviet Union, referred to as the Revolutions of 1989
In 1990, the Communist Party enacts a resolution by Gorbachev that allow other political parties to be involved in the political process. That year, six of the fifteen republics elected to removed the Communist Party from their governments. This destabilized the Soviet Union’s economy and ultimately lead to the dissolution of the Soviet Union the following year.