Estonian Sovereignty Declaration

The Estonian Sovereignty Declaration (Estonian: suveräänsusdeklaratsioon), fully: Declaration on the Sovereignty of the Estonian SSR (Deklaratsioon Eesti NSV suveräänsusest), was issued on November 16, 1988[1] during the Singing Revolution in Estonia. The declaration asserted Estonia's sovereignty and the supremacy of the Estonian laws over the laws of the Soviet Union.[2] Estonia's parliament also laid claim to the republic's natural resources: land, inland waters, forests, mineral deposits and to the means of industrial production, agriculture, construction, state banks, transportation, municipal services, etc. in the territory of Estonia's borders.[2] November 16 is now celebrated annually as the "Day of Declaration of Sovereignty".


Estonia gained independence in the aftermath of World War I and Estonian War of Independence (1918–1920). In 1940 as a consequence of the German–Soviet Nonaggression Pact and its Secret Additional Protocol of August 1939 Estonia was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union.

The majority of Western nations refused to recognize the incorporation of Estonia de jure by the Soviet Union and only recognized the government of the Estonian SSR de facto or not at all.[3][4] Such countries recognized Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian diplomats and consuls who still functioned in the name of their former governments. These aging diplomats persisted in this anomalous situation until the ultimate restoration of Baltic independence.[5]

In the 1980s new policies of Perestroika and Glasnost were introduced and political repression in the Soviet Union came to an end. As a result, during the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt a 20 August 1991 declaration proclaimed the reestablishment of the independent Estonian republic almost three years after the declaration was made, becoming the last of the Baltic republics to declare the reestablishment of independence (after Lithuania and Latvia in 1990).[6] On September 6, 1991, the Soviet Union recognized the independence of Estonia and the country was admitted to the UN on September 17.[7]

After more than three years of negotiations, on August 31, 1994, the armed forces of Russia withdrew from Estonia. The Russian Federation officially ended its military presence in Estonia after it relinquished control of the nuclear reactor facilities in Paldiski in September 1995. Estonia joined the European Union in May 2004, shortly after it became a member of NATO, and later joined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2010.

See also


  1. ^ Frankowski, Stanisław; Paul B. Stephan (1995). Legal reform in post-communist Europe. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 84. ISBN 0-7923-3218-0.
  2. ^ a b Walker, Edward (2003). Dissolution. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 63. ISBN 0-7425-2453-1.
  3. ^ Talmon, Stefan (2001). Recognition of Governments in International Law. Oxford University Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-19-826573-3.
  4. ^ Aust, Anthony (2005). Handbook of International Law. Cambridge University Press. p. 26. ISBN 0-521-82349-8.
  5. ^ Diplomats Without a Country: Baltic Diplomacy, International Law, and the Cold War by James T. McHugh, James S. Pacy, Page 2. ISBN 0-313-31878-6
  6. ^ Miljan, Toivo (2004). Historical Dictionary of Estonia. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-4904-6.
  7. ^ Europa Publications Limited (1999). Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States 1999. p. 333. ISBN 1-85743-058-1.


was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1988th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 988th year of the 2nd millennium, the 88th year of the 20th century, and the 9th year of the 1980s decade.

In the 20th century, the year 1988 has the most Roman numeral digits (11).

1988 was a crucial year in the early history of the Internet—it was the year of the first well-known computer virus, the 1988 Internet worm. The first permanent intercontinental Internet link was made between the United States (NSFNET) and Europe (Nordunet) as well as the first Internet-based chat protocol, Internet Relay Chat. The concept of the World Wide Web was first discussed at CERN in 1988.The Soviet Union began its major restructuring towards a mixed economy at the beginning of 1988 and began its gradual dissolution. The Iron Curtain began to disintegrate in 1988 as Hungary began allowing freer travel to the West. The first extrasolar planet, Gamma Cephei Ab (confirmed in 2002) was detected this year and the World Health Organization began its mission to eradicate polio.

Estonian Declaration of Independence

The Estonian Declaration of Independence, also known as the Manifesto to the Peoples of Estonia (Estonian: Manifest Eestimaa rahvastele), is the founding act of the Republic of Estonia from 1918. It is celebrated on 24 February, the National Day or Estonian Independence Day.

The declaration was drafted by the Salvation Committee elected by the elders of the Estonian Provincial Assembly. Originally intended to be proclaimed on 21 February 1918, the proclamation was delayed until the evening of 23 February, when the manifesto was printed and read out aloud publicly in Pärnu. On the next day, 24 February, the manifesto was printed and distributed in the capital, Tallinn.

Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic

The Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (Estonian SSR or ESSR; Estonian: Eesti Nõukogude Sotsialistlik Vabariik ENSV; Russian: Эстонская Советская Социалистическая Республика ЭССР, Estonskaya Sovetskaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika ESSR), also known as Soviet Estonia or Estonia was an unrecognized republic of the Soviet Union, administered by a subordinate of the Soviet government. The ESSR was initially established on the territory of the Republic of Estonia on 21 July 1940, following the invasion of Soviet troops on 17 June 1940, and the installation of a puppet government backed by the Soviet Union, which declared Estonia a Soviet constituency. The Estonian SSR was subsequently incorporated into the Soviet state on 9 August 1940. The territory was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944 and administered as a part of Reichskommissariat Ostland.

Most countries did not recognize the incorporation of Estonia de jure and only recognized its Soviet government de facto or not at all. A number of these countries continued to recognize Estonian diplomats and consuls who still functioned in the name of their former government. This policy of non-recognition gave rise to the principle of legal continuity, which held that de jure, Estonia remained an independent state under occupation throughout the period 1940–91.On 16 November 1988, the Estonian SSR became the first republic within the Soviet sphere of influence to declare state sovereignty from Moscow. On 30 March 1990, the Estonian SSR declared that Estonia had been occupied since 1940 and declared a transitional period for the country's full independence. The Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic was renamed as the Republic of Estonia on 8 May 1990. The independence of the Republic of Estonia was re-established on 20 August during the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt the following year and the Soviet Union itself recognised the independence of Estonia on 6 September 1991.

Estonian restoration of Independence

Estonian Restoration of Independence (juridically defined as the Restoration of the Republic of Estonia) is celebrated on the 20th of August as on that day, in 1991 at 11:02 pm local time, the Estonian Supreme Soviet, in agreement with the Estonian Committee (the executive organ of the Estonian Congress) proclaimed Estonian independence from the Soviet Union. August 20 is a public holiday in Estonia.

Great Purge

The Great Purge or the Great Terror was a campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union which occurred from 1936 to 1938. It involved a large-scale purge of the Communist Party and government officials, repression of wealthy landlords and the Red Army leadership, widespread police surveillance, suspicion of saboteurs, counter-revolutionaries, imprisonment, and arbitrary executions. In Russian historiography, the period of the most intense purge, 1937–1938, is called Yezhovshchina (literally, "Yezhov phenomenon", commonly translated as "times of Yezhov" or "doings of Yezhov"), after Nikolai Yezhov, the head of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, who was executed a year after the purge. Modern historical studies estimate the total number of deaths due to Stalinist repression in 1937–38 to be between 681,692-1,200,000.In the Western world, Robert Conquest's 1968 book The Great Terror popularized that phrase. Conquest's title was in turn an allusion to the period called the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution (French: la Terreur, and, from June to July 1794, la Grande Terreur, the Great Terror).

Gustav Naan

Gustav Naan (Russian: Густав Иоганнович Наан, Gustav Iogannovich Naan; 17 May 1919 near Vladivostok – 12 January 1994 in Tallinn) was an Estonian physicist and philosopher. According to the Estonian Encyclopedia's definition, he "wrote plenty of irritating publicist articles".Gustav Naan was born in Russian SFSR in a village near Vladivostok to a family of Estonian settlers. He graduated from the Leningrad State University in 1941. He took part in World War II and joined the CPSU in 1943. Having settled to Estonia after the USSR annexed Estonia, Gustav Naan, a loyal communist and graduate of the Higher Party School of the AUCP(b) (1946) published a number of Stalinist-oriented polemic pieces (treating Estonian history and politics from the pro-Soviet perspective, e.g. "Eesti kodanlike natsionalistide ideoloogia reaktsiooniline olemus″ ('The Reactionary Essence of the Ideology of Estonian Bourgeois Nationalists'), 1947). In 1948, Naan published an article in Voprosy filosofii on the philosophical implications of the theory of relativity, criticizing 'physical idealists' of the US and Britain; in 1951, however, he published an article that decried vulgar materialist critics of the relativity theory whilst being ″tolerant on philosophic questions to a striking degree in Stalinist Russia, considering its place and time of publication″. Authors who followed Naan's article into discussion were almost universally critical of Naan's position. In 1952, which was the most intense year of the debate, three different authors published against Naan in the 1952 first issue of Voprosy filosofii alone.Naan was the director of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR (1950–1951), Vice-President of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR (1951–1964). From 1964, Naan worked at the Institute of Astrophysics and Atmosphere Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR. Having turned to theorizing on cosmology, cybernetics and demography, he often rejected taboos of both the 'traditional' world-view and orthodox communist opinions on such matters. He often juxtaposed what he saw as a science-based world-view with a trivial thinking (Estonian: "argimõtlemine"), which he saw both among common people, the intelligentsia as well as the ruling classes. He later claimed to have been one of the promoters of the theory of relativity at the time this was still considered pseudoscience by the Soviet authorities. The influential 1968 article "Võim ja vaim" (roughly "The Power and the Mind") was widely read among the liberal intelligentsia, who interpreted it as a critique of the administrative/bureaucratic socialism and command economy. His articles such as this enjoyed popularity in Russia, too. In 1960s and 1970s he often held lectures either in the assembly hall of the Tallinn Polytechnical Institute or (as initiated on his own initiative) in Tõravere as seminars of philosophy, often balancing between the permissible by the authorities and impermissible.

He also proposed the Symmetric Universe hypothesis, according to which, side by side with the ordinary world, there is an anti-world. His ideas have been characterized as "viewpoints that have been recognized as valuable from the scientific point of view".

Naan was editor-in-chief of Eesti nõukogude entsüklopeedia (literally: Estonian Soviet Encyclopedia), the first edition of which started in the late 1960s. The encyclopedia was highly successful in Estonia.

In terms of political affiliations, Naan remained a staunch supporter of the Soviet system (initially an enthusiastic supporter of Perestroika though) and was a devote opponent of Estonia's pro-independence movement; Naan supported the (pro-Moscow) Internationalist Movement. Having gained much public support in the 1970s for his relatively bold opinion pieces on topics like family, the rising divorce rate (that he argued was more or less a normal development), morals and sex (the importance of which, he argued, was being downplayed out of pseudomoralistic argumentation), he soon became a despised figure for his anti-independence stance, which was reflected in his newspaper articles of the time (e.g. his article «С ног на голову» ('From (standing on) Feet to (standing on) Head', Estonian title "Kõik pea peale″), condemning the Estonian Sovereignty Declaration passed by the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR, was published in Pravda, 23. November 1988.). He also published a number of articles where he either tried to downplay or rationalize Stalinist repressions. His stance almost led to his expulsion from the Academy of Sciences.

Harri Lumi

Harri Lumi (born 7 February 1933) is an Estonian former Communist politician who was the last chairman of the Executive Committee of Tallinn from December 1984 to January 1990.

Lumi graduated from Tallinn's 17th Secondary School in 1952 and, in 1957, graduated from the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Tallinn University of Technology with a degree in engineering. He worked as an engineer in the Government of the Residential Government Reserve in Tallinn from 1955 to 1960, in the 1960s in the subordinate units of the Estonian SSR Ministry of Construction, and from 1965 to 1977, he worked as the Chief Engineer and then Head of the Construction Management Construction Board of Tallinn. From 1977 to 1979, he was chairman of the Republican Building Management Trust of Lumi.In 1979, Lumi was appointed as the first deputy chairman of the RSN Executive Committee in Tallinn, where he worked until 1983. From 1983 to 1984, he was the Minister of Construction of the Estonian SSR. After the regaining of independence of Estonia, he was the Construction Director of the joint venture Estkompexim from 1990 to 1992, and from 1992 to 1995 he was the Deputy Head of the Industrial Construction Trust, a state-owned joint-stock company. In 1994, he was one of the founders of the joint stock company Parmeron and still holds some ownership.Lumi was chairman of the chairman of the Executive Committee of Tallinn from December 1984 to January 1990. He was the last chairman of the Executive Committee. He was chairman during the Estonian Sovereignty Declaration, the subsequent Singing Revolution and the start of the dissolution of the Estonian SSR. Lumi led the efforts to have Tallinn's Old Town become a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as opening up Tallinn to foreign countries. He led the plans to start the dissolution of the Soviet government in Tallinn, eventually renaming the government from the Executive Committee to Tallinn City Government. He was succeeded by Hardo Aasmäe as mayor of Tallinn.

History of the Soviet Union

The "History of Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union" reflects a period of change for both Russia and the world. Though the terms "Soviet Russia" and "Soviet Union" often are synonymous in everyday speech, when referring to the foundations of the Soviet Union, "Soviet Russia" properly refers to the few years between the October Revolution of 1917 and the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922.

History of the Soviet Union (1953–64)

In the USSR, during the eleven-year period from the death of Joseph Stalin (1953) to the political ouster of Nikita Khrushchev (1964), the national politics were dominated by the Cold War, the ideological U.S.–USSR struggle for the planetary domination of their respective socio-economic systems, and the defense of hegemonic spheres of influence. Nonetheless, since the mid-1950s, despite the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) having disowned Stalinism, the political culture of Stalinism—a very powerful General Secretary of the CPSU—remained in place, albeit weakened.

History of the Soviet Union (1982–91)

The history of the Soviet Union from 1982 through 1991 spans the period from Leonid Brezhnev's death and funeral until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Due to the years of Soviet military buildup at the expense of domestic development, economic growth stagnated. Failed attempts at reform, a standstill economy, and the success of the United States against the Soviet Union's forces in the war in Afghanistan led to a general feeling of discontent, especially in the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe.Greater political and social freedoms, instituted by the last Soviet leader and General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev, created an atmosphere of open criticism of the communist regime. The dramatic drop of the price of oil in 1985 and 1986 profoundly influenced actions of the Soviet leadership.Nikolai Tikhonov, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, was succeeded by Nikolai Ryzhkov, and Vasili Kuznetsov, the acting Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, was succeeded by Andrei Gromyko, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Several republics began resisting central control, and increasing democratization led to a weakening of the central government. The Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991 when Boris Yeltsin seized power in the aftermath of a failed coup that had attempted to topple reform-minded Gorbachev.

Independence Day (Estonia)

Independence Day (Estonian: Eesti Vabariigi aastapäev) is a national holiday in Estonia marking the anniversary of the Estonian Declaration of Independence in 1918. It is commonly celebrated with fireworks, concerts, parades, and parties. It is the national day of Estonia.

List of World War II puppet states

During World War II a number of countries were conquered and controlled. Some of these countries were then given new names, and assigned new governmental leaders which were loyal to the conquering country. These countries are known as puppet states. Germany and Japan were the two countries with the most puppet states. Italy also had several puppet states. Most of the Allies (with the exception of the Soviet Union) did not have many puppet states.

Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic

The Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (Lithuanian SSR; Lithuanian: Lietuvos Tarybų Socialistinė Respublika; Russian: Литовская Советская Социалистическая Республика, Litovskaya Sovetskaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika), one of the USSR republics that existed in 1940–1941 and 1944–1990, was formed on the basis of the Soviet occupation rule. It was also known as Soviet Lithuania. After 1946, its territory and borders mirrored those of today's Republic of Lithuania (with the exception of minor adjustments at the Belarusian border).

During World War II, it was established on 21 July 1940 as a puppet state in the territory of the previously independent Republic of Lithuania. Previously, it had been occupied by the Soviet army on 16 June 1940, in conformity with the terms of the 23 August 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

Between 1941 and 1944, the German invasion of the Soviet Union caused its de facto dissolution. However, with the retreat of the Germans in 1944–1945, Soviet hegemony was re-established, and continued for fifty years. As a result, many western countries continued to recognize Lithuania as an independent, sovereign de jure state subject to international law, represented by the legations appointed by the pre-1940 Baltic states, which functioned in various places through the Lithuanian Diplomatic Service.

On 18 May 1989, the Lithuanian SSR declared state sovereignty within its borders during perestroika. On 11 March 1990, the Republic of Lithuania was declared to be re-established as an independent state; the declaration, considered illegal by the Soviet authorities, was recognized by Western powers immediately prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union itself recognized Lithuanian independence on 6 September 1991.

October Revolution

The October Revolution, officially known in Soviet historiography as the Great October Socialist Revolution and commonly referred to as the October Uprising, the October Coup, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Bolshevik Coup or the Red October, was a revolution in Russia led by the Bolshevik Party of Vladimir Lenin that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917. It took place with an armed insurrection in Petrograd on 7 November (25 October, O.S.) 1917.

It followed and capitalized on the February Revolution of the same year, which overthrew the Tsarist autocracy and resulted in a provisional government after a transfer of power proclaimed by Grand Duke Michael, brother of Tsar Nicolas II, who declined to take power after the Tsar stepped down. During this time, urban workers began to organize into councils (soviets) wherein revolutionaries criticized the provisional government and its actions. After the Congress of Soviets, now the governing body, had its second session, it elected members of the Bolsheviks and other leftist groups such as the Left Socialist Revolutionaries to important positions within the new state of affairs. This immediately initiated the establishment of the Russian Soviet Republic, the world's first self-proclaimed socialist state. On 17 July 1918, the Tsar and his family were executed.

The revolution was led by the Bolsheviks, who used their influence in the Petrograd Soviet to organize the armed forces. Bolshevik Red Guards forces under the Military Revolutionary Committee began the occupation of government buildings on 7 November 1917 (New Style). The following day, the Winter Palace (the seat of the Provisional government located in Petrograd, then capital of Russia) was captured.

The long-awaited Constituent Assembly elections were held on 12 November 1917. In contrast to their majority in the Soviets, the Bolsheviks only won 175 seats in the 715-seat legislative body, coming in second behind the Socialist Revolutionary Party, which won 370 seats, although the SR Party no longer existed as a whole party by that time, as the Left SRs had gone into coalition with the Bolsheviks from October 1917 to March 1918. The Constituent Assembly was to first meet on 28 November 1917, but its convocation was delayed until 5 January 1918 by the Bolsheviks. On its first and only day in session, the Constituent Assembly came into conflict with the Soviets, and it rejected Soviet decrees on peace and land, resulting in the Constituent Assembly being dissolved the next day by order of the Congress of Soviets.As the revolution was not universally recognized, there followed the struggles of the Russian Civil War (1917–22) and the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922.

On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences

"On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences" (Russian: «О культе личности и его последствиях», «O kul'te lichnosti i yego posledstviyakh») was a report by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, made to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on 25 February 1956. Khrushchev's speech was sharply critical of the reign of the deceased General Secretary and Premier Joseph Stalin, particularly with respect to the purges which had especially marked the last years of the 1930s. Khrushchev charged Stalin with having fostered a leadership cult of personality despite ostensibly maintaining support for the ideals of communism.

The speech was shocking in its day. There are reports that the audience reacted with applause and laughter at several points. There are also reports that some of those present suffered heart attacks, and others later committed suicide. The ensuing confusion among many Soviet citizens, bred on the panegyrics and permanent praise of the "genius" of Stalin, was especially apparent in Georgia, Stalin's homeland, where the days of protests and rioting ended with the Soviet army crackdown on 9 March 1956. In the West, the speech politically devastated the organised left; the Communist Party USA alone lost more than 30,000 members within weeks of its publication.The speech was a major cause of the Sino-Soviet split, in which China (under Chairman Mao Zedong) and Albania (under First Secretary Enver Hoxha) condemned Khrushchev as a revisionist. In response, they formed the anti-revisionist movement, criticizing the post-Stalin leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union for allegedly deviating from the path of Lenin and Stalin.The speech was a milestone in the "Khrushchev Thaw". As a whole, the speech was an attempt to draw the Soviet Communist Party closer to Leninism and away from Stalinism. However, it possibly served Khrushchev's ulterior motives to legitimize and consolidate his control of the Soviet Union's Communist Party and Government, after political struggles with Georgy Malenkov and firm Stalin loyalists such as Vyacheslav Molotov, who were involved to varying degrees in the purges. The Khrushchev report was known as the "Secret Speech" because it was delivered at an unpublicized closed session of Communist Party delegates, with guests and members of the press excluded. The text of the Khrushchev report was widely discussed in party cells in early March, often with the participation of non-party members; however, the official Russian text was openly published only in 1989 during the glasnost campaign of the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Parade of sovereignties

The parade of sovereignties (Russian: Парад суверенитетов, Parad suverenitetov) was a series of declarations of sovereignty of various degree by the constituents of the Soviet Union in late 1980s - early 1990s. These declarations stated the priority of the constituent republic power within its territory over the central power, which have led to the War of Laws between the center and the republics. The process followed the loosened power grip of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as a result of demokratizatsiya policy of the perestroika period of Mikhail Gorbachev. Despite the efforts of Gorbachev to preserve the union under a new treaty in the form of the Union of Sovereign States, soon afterwards many constituents declared their full independence, and the process resulted in the dissolution of the Soviet Union.The first region to declare independence was the Nakhichevan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (January 19, 1990; however Heydar Aliyev, the leader of Azerbaijan SSR, having roots in Nakhchivan, managed to keep Nakhchivan Republic within Azerbaijan).The first top-level Soviet republic to declare independence was Estonian SSR (November 16, 1988: Estonian Sovereignty Declaration, March 30, 1990: decree on the transition to the restoration of the Estonian statehood, May 8, 1990: Law on the State Symbols, which declared the independence , August 20, 1991: Law of the Estonian restoration of Independence).

This massive secessionist event has served as a testbench for various theories of secession.

Singing Revolution

The Singing Revolution is a commonly used name for events between 1987 and 1991 that led to the restoration of the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The term was coined by an Estonian activist and artist, Heinz Valk, in an article published a week after the 10–11 June 1988, spontaneous mass evening singing demonstrations at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds.

Soviet Union

The Soviet Union,, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR). Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk.

Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union had spanned eleven time zones and incorporated a wide range of environments and landforms. Counter-clockwise from northwest to southeast, the Soviet Union shared land borders with Norway, Finland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It shared its maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the US state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. With an area of 22,402,200 square kilometres (8,649,500 sq mi), the Soviet Union was the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the third most populous, with over 288 million people as of 1989, with 80% of the population living in the western, European part of the country.

The Soviet Union had its roots in the October Revolution of 1917, when the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s. Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism (which he created) and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During this period of totalitarian rule, political paranoia fermented and the late-1930s Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in over 600,000 deaths. Suppression of political critics and forced labor were carried out by Stalin's government. In 1933, a major famine that became known as the Holodomor in Soviet Ukraine struck multiple Soviet grain-growing regions, causing the deaths of some 3 to 7 million people.In August 1939, days before the start of World War II, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact agreeing to non-aggression with Germany, after which the two countries invaded Poland in September 1939. In June 1941, the pact collapsed as Germany turned to attack the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk. The territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union and the postwar division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the West, led by the United States of America.

The Cold War emerged by 1947 as the Eastern Bloc, united under the Warsaw Pact in 1955, confronted the Western Bloc, united under NATO in 1949. On 5 March 1953, Stalin died and was eventually succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization of Soviet society through the Khrushchev Thaw. The Soviet Union took an early lead in the Space Race, with the first artificial satellite, the first human spaceflight, and successfully launched the first and so far the only probe to planet Venus. Dissatisfied with Khrushchev's policies, the Communist Party's conservative wing led a coup d'état against Khrushchev in 1964, quietly ousting him without any bloodshed. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In the mid-1980s, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). Under Gorbachev, the role of the Communist Party in governing the state was removed from the constitution, causing a surge of severe political instability to set in. In 1989 Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments.

With the rise of strong nationalist and separatist movements inside the union republics, Gorbachev tried to avert a dissolution of the Soviet Union. A March 1991 referendum, boycotted by some republics, resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation. Gorbachev's power was greatly diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin played a high-profile role in facing down an abortive August 1991 coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. On 25 December 1991, Gorbachev resigned, and on 26 December 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union, thereby ending the Cold War, and the remaining twelve constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states. The Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assumed the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and is recognized as the successor state of the Soviet Union. In summing up the international ramifications of these events, Vladislav Zubok stated: "The collapse of the Soviet empire was an event of epochal geopolitical, military, ideological and economic significance".Throughout its existence, the Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite and the launching of the first humans in space. The country had the world's second largest economy and the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. It was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) and the Warsaw Pact.

Treaty on the Creation of the USSR

The Treaty on the Creation of the USSR officially created the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), commonly known as the Soviet Union. It de jure legalised a union of several Soviet republics that had existed since 1919 and created a new centralised federal government (Congress of Soviets of the Soviet Union and Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union (TsIK) were the legislative while Council of People's Commissars was the executive) where key functions were centralised in Moscow.

The Treaty along with the Declaration of the Creation of the USSR was approved on 30 December 1922 by a conference of delegations from the Russian SFSR, the Transcaucasian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the Byelorussian SSR. The Treaty and the Declaration were confirmed by the 1st Congress of Soviets of the USSR and signed by heads of delegations – Mikhail Kalinin, Mikhail Tskhakaya, Mikhail Frunze and Grigory Petrovsky, Aleksandr Chervyakov respectively on December 30, 1922. The treaty provided flexibility to admit new members. Therefore, by 1940 the Soviet Union grew from the founding four republics to 15 republics.

On 8 December 1991, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian Presidents signed the Belavezha Accords. The agreement declared dissolution of the USSR by its founder states (denunciation of the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR) and established the CIS. On 10 December, the accord was ratified by the Ukrainian and Belarusian parliaments. On 12 December, the agreement was ratified by the Russian Parliament, therefore the Russian SFSR renounced the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR and de facto declared Russia's independence from the USSR.

On 26 December 1991, the USSR was self-dissolved by the Council of the Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, the first house of Soviet legislature (the second house, the Council of the Union, was without a quorum).

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