Post-Soviet states

The post-Soviet states, also collectively known as the former Soviet Union (FSU)[1] or former Soviet Republics, and in Russian as the "near abroad" (discussed below) are the states that emerged and re-emerged from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in its breakup in 1991, with Russia internationally recognised as the successor state to the Soviet Union after the Cold War. The three Baltic states were the first to declare their independence, between March and May 1990, claiming continuity from the original states that existed prior to their annexation by the Soviet Union in 1940.[2][3] The remaining 12 republics all subsequently seceded.[2] 12 of the 15 states, excluding the Baltic states, initially formed the CIS and most joined CSTO, while the Baltic states focused on European Union and NATO membership.

Several disputed states with varying degrees of recognition exist within the territory of the former Soviet Union: Transnistria in eastern Moldova, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in northern Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh in southwestern Azerbaijan. Since 2014, the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic in Eastern Ukraine have claimed independence. All of these unrecognised states except Nagorno-Karabakh depend on Russian armed support and financial aid. Nagorno-Karabakh is integrated to Armenia, which also maintains close cooperation with Russia. Prior to the annexation of Crimea to Russia in March 2014, which is not recognized by most countries, it briefly declared itself an independent state.

In the political language of Russia and some other post-Soviet states, the near abroad refers to the newly independent republics (other than Russia itself) which emerged after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Near abroad became more widely used in English, usually to assert Russia's right to have major influence in the region.[4][5][6] Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared the region Russia's "sphere of influence", and strategically vital for Russia.[6] The concept has been compared to the Monroe Doctrine.[4]

Country comparison

States and geographical groupings

PostSoviet Regions Map
Common groupings of the post-Soviet states:
  Russia

The 15 post-Soviet states are typically divided into the following five groupings. Each of these regions has its own common set of traits, owing not only to geographic and cultural factors but also to that region's history in relation to Russia. In addition, there are a number of de facto independent, but internationally unrecognized states (see the section Separatist conflicts below).

General statistics

Country Coat of arms Flag Capital Independence Area (km²) Area (mi²) Population Density
(pop./km²)
Density
(pop./mi²)
Date Population source
Russia
(The Russian Federation)
Coat of Arms of the Russian Federation Moscow 1991-12-12[7] 17,098,242 6,601,668 146,880,432 8.59 22.2 January 1, 2018 Official estimate
Ukraine[8] Lesser Coat of Arms of Ukraine Kiev 1991-08-24 603,628 233,062 45,377,581 75 194 April 1, 2014 Monthly official estimate
Belarus
(Republic of Belarus)
Coat of arms of Belarus (official) Minsk 1991-08-25 207,600 80,155 9,765,469 46 119 July 1, 2014 Quarterly official estimate
Uzbekistan
(Republic of Uzbekistan)
Emblem of Uzbekistan Tashkent 1991-08-31 444,103 171,469 30,492,800 69 179 January 1, 2014 Official estimate
Kazakhstan
(Republic of Kazakhstan)
Emblem of Kazakhstan Astana 1991-12-16 2,724,900 1,052,090 17,186,000 6.31 16 February 1, 2014 Monthly official estimate
Georgia Greater coat of arms of Georgia Tbilisi 1991-04-09 69,700 26,911 4,490,500 64 166 January 1, 2014 Official estimate
Azerbaijan
(Republic of Azerbaijan)
Emblem of Azerbaijan Baku 1991-08-30 86,600 33,436 9,477,100 109 282 December 31, 2013 Official estimate
Lithuania
(Republic of Lithuania)
Coat of arms of Lithuania Vilnius 1918-02-16 (current)
1990-03-11 (restored)
65,300 25,212 2,944,459 45 117 January 1, 2014 Monthly official estimate
Moldova
(Republic of Moldova)
Coat of arms of Moldova Chișinău 1991-08-27 33,843 13,067 3,550,900 105 272 January 1, 2017 Official estimate
Latvia
(Republic of Latvia)
Coat of arms of Latvia Riga 1918-11-18 (current)
1991-08-21 (restored)
64,562 24,928 2,005,200 31 80 January 1, 2014 Monthly official estimate
Kyrgyzstan
(Kyrgyz Republic)
National emblem of Kyrgyzstan 2016 Bishkek 1991-08-31 199,945 77,199 5,895,100 29.5 76 2015 Official estimate
Tajikistan
(Republic of Tajikistan)
Emblem of Tajikistan Dushanbe 1991-09-09 143,100 55,251 8,160,000 57 148 January 1, 2014 Official estimate
Armenia
(Republic of Armenia)
Coat of arms of Armenia Yerevan 1991-09-21 29,743 11,484 3,024,100 102 264 2012 Official estimate
Turkmenistan Emblem of Turkmenistan Ashgabat 1991-10-27 491,210 189,657 5,240,000 10.7 27.7 July 1, 2013 UN estimate
Estonia
(Republic of Estonia)
Coat of arms of Estonia Tallinn 1918-02-24 (current)
1991-08-20 (restored)
45,339 17,505 1,313,271 29 75 January 1, 2015 Official estimate
 Total overall of the former USSR State Emblem of the Soviet Union Moscow 1991-12-26 22,307,815 8,613,096 292,610,734 13.1 34 Various Dates Various Sources

Area includes land and water.

Current leaders

Heads of state

Heads of government

Economy

The dissolution of the Soviet Union took place as a result and against the backdrop of general economic stagnation, even regression. As the Gosplan, which had set up production chains to cross SSR lines, broke down, the inter-republic economic connections were also disrupted, leading to even more serious breakdown of the post-Soviet economies.

Most of the formerly Soviet states began the transition to a market economy from a command economy in 1990-1991 and made efforts to rebuild and restructure their economic systems, with varying results. In all, the process triggered severe economic declines, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dropping by more than 40% overall between 1990 and 1995.[10] This decline in GDP was much more intense than the 27% decline that the United States suffered in the wake of the Great Depression between 1930 and 1934.[11] The reconfiguration of public finance in compliance with capitalist principles resulted in dramatically reduced spending on health, education and other social programs, leading to a sharp increase in poverty and economic inequality.[12][13] The economic shocks associated with wholesale privatization resulted in the excess deaths of roughly 1 million working age individuals throughout the former Soviet bloc in the 1990s.[14][15] A study by economist Steven Rosefielde asserts that 3.4 million Russians died premature deaths from 1990 to 1998, partly as the result of "shock therapy" imposed by the Washington Consensus.[16]

The initial transition decline was eventually arrested by the cumulative effect of market reforms, and after 1995 the economy in the post-Soviet states began to recover, with GDP switching from negative to positive growth rates. By 2007, 10 of the 15 post-Soviet states had recovered and reached GDP greater than what they had in 1991.[17] Only Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan had GDP significantly below the 1991 level. The recovery in Russia was marginal, with GDP in 2006-2007 just nudging above the 1991 level. Combined with the aftershocks of the 1998 economic crisis it led to a return of more interventionist economic policies by Vladimir Putin's administration. Some academic studies show that many former Soviet Republics and Warsaw Pact countries still have not caught up to their levels of output during the twilight of the Soviet era.[18][19]

Change in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in constant prices, 1991-2015[20]

Country 1991* 1996 2001 2006 2011 2015 Turnaround
year**
Eastern European states
Russia 100 63.1 74.5 103.3 118.3 119.8 1997
Ukraine 100 47.2 51.8 73.7 75.9 63.4 2000
Belarus 100 67.9 94.0 141.5 192.5 193.9 1996
Moldova 100 45.2 45.0 62.5 74.5 83.2 1997
Baltic states
Estonia 100 ? ? ? ? ? ?
Latvia 100 67.8 92.9 143.1 130.1 145.8 1993
Lithuania 100 64.6 81.5 119.8 123.9 139.6 1995
Central Asia
Kazakhstan 100 69.3 88.5 141.4 185.7 219.0 1996
Kyrgyzstan 100 58.9 76.1 89.6 114.4 133.9 1996
Tajikistan 100 34.1 45.2 56.0 98.1 124.5 1997
Turkmenistan 100 68.4 107.7 215.5 351.8 515.5 1998
Uzbekistan 100 82.9 102.6 137.5 208.4 281.2 1996
Transcaucasus
Armenia 100 63.3 84.2 154.7 172.5 202.6 1994
Azerbaijan 100 42.7 65.2 150.2 241.1 276.5 1996
Georgia 100 39.8 49.8 74.1 93.2 109.3 1995

*Economy of most Soviet republics started to decline in 1989-1990, thus indices for 1991 don't match pre-reform maximums.

**The year when GDP decline switched to GDP growth.

List of the present Gross domestic product (GDP) (figures are given in 2019 United States dollars for the year 2019 according to IMF[21]

No. Country Nominal
Billions USD
Nominal
per capita USD
PPP
billions USD
PPP
per capita USD
1 Russia Russian Federation 1,754 12,200 4,323 30,200
2 Ukraine Ukraine 127 3,000 411 9,700
3 Belarus Belarus 62 6,600 197 21,000
4 Uzbekistan Uzbekistan 48 1,500 256 7,800
5 Kazakhstan Kazakhstan 190 10,200 529 28,300
6 Georgia (country) Georgia 17 4,700 45 12,300
7 Azerbaijan Azerbaijan 48 4,800 190 18,900
8 Lithuania Lithuania 58 21,200 101 37,000
9 Moldova Moldova 10 2,800 23 6,400
10 Latvia Latvia 39 19,900 61 31,300
11 Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan 8 1,200 26 4,000
12 Tajikistan Tajikistan 8 900 32 3,500
13 Armenia Armenia 13 4,200 32 10,600
14 Turkmenistan Turkmenistan 46 8,000 121 20,800
15 Estonia Estonia 33 25,600 47 35,800

Developmental progress

The post-Soviet states listed according to their Human Development Index scores in 2017 (the report was launched in October 2018).[22]

Very High Human Development:

High Human Development:

Medium Human Development:

Regional organizations

GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic DevelopmentGeorgia (country)AzerbaijanUkraineMoldovaTajikistanTurkmenistanCollective Security Treaty OrganizationEurasian Economic UnionUzbekistanKyrgyzstanKazakhstanArmeniaUnion StateBelarusRussiaCommonwealth of Independent StatesCommonwealth of Independent States Free Trade AreaBaltic AssemblyLithuaniaLatviaEstoniaCommunity for Democracy and Rights of NationsTransnistriaAbkhaziaSouth OssetiaRepublic of Artsakh
Euler diagram showing the relationships among various supranational organisations in the territory of the former Soviet Unionv • d • e
Commonwealth of Independent States vs EU and NATO
  CIS members
  States that joined EU, NATO
and OECD
  Other EU or NATO members

A number of regional organizations and cooperating blocs have sprung up since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Only organizations that are mainly (or completely) composed of post-Soviet states are listed in this section; organizations with wider memberships are not discussed. The 15 post-Soviet states are divided in their participation to the regional blocs:

  • Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine founded the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in December 1991. It was conceived as a successor organization to the USSR, and in December 1993 it included 12 of the 15 former Soviet republics (except the three Baltic states).[23] It currently consists of nine of the 15 former Soviet republics, with one associate state (Turkmenistan). Georgia withdrew from the CIS in August 2008, while Ukraine stopped participating from the CIS in May 2018.
  • The three Baltic states have not sought membership in any of these post-Soviet organizations, seeking and achieving membership in the European Union and NATO instead, although their electricity and rail systems remain closely connected with former Soviet organizations. The sole exception to the above has been their recent membership in the Community of Democratic Choice.
  • The Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan (as well as Belarus) are members of the CIS and participate in several regional organizations that have Russia as a primary mover. Such organizations are the Eurasian Economic Community (later merged with Eurasian Economic Union, which Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are not members of), Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The last two groups only became distinct once Uzbekistan withdrew from GUAM and sought membership in EurAsEc and CSTO (which it subsequently withdrew from in 2008 and 2012, respectively).
  • Armenia, besides its membership in CIS participates in Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union.
  • Moldova and Azerbaijan participate in the CIS but other than that they mostly cooperate within regional organizations that are not dominated by Russia. Such organizations are GUAM and the Community of Democratic Choice. Although Ukraine is one of the three founding countries of the CIS, it is legally not a member because it has never ratified the 1993 CIS Charter.[23]
  • Turkmenistan is an associate member of CIS (having withdrawn from full membership in August 2005)[24] and a member in the Economic Cooperation Organization; it has not sought closer integration in any of the other Western or post-Soviet organizations.
  • In 2008, Georgia notified the CIS executive bodies of its decision to leave the regional organization,[25][26] and according to the CIS Charter (sec. 1, art. 9) this decision went into force 12 months after the notification date.[27]

Commonwealth of Independent States

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) consists of 10 former Soviet Republics that differ in their membership status. As of December 2010, 9 countries have ratified the CIS charter and are full CIS members (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan), one country (Turkmenistan) is an associate member and two countries (Georgia, Ukraine) left the organization in 2009 and in 2018. In 2014, Ukraine declined its CIS chairmanship and considered withdrawal from the organization.[28]

In 1994, the CIS countries agreed to create a free trade area, but the agreements were never signed. On October 19, 2011 Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine signed a free trade agreement.[29] Uzbekistan joined the free trade area in 2013.[30]

Eurasian Economic Community

Commonwealth of Independent States EAEC vs GUAM
  EAEC members
  GUAM members
  Other CIS members

The Eurasian Economic Community (EURASEC), formerly the CIS Customs Union, was established by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Ukraine and Moldova have observer status in the community; however, Ukraine has declared its desire not to become a full member state. Because having common borders with the rest of the community is a prerequisite for full membership, Moldova is barred from seeking it. Uzbekistan applied for membership in October 2005,[31] when the process of merging Central Asian Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Community began; it joined on 25 January 2006. Uzbekistan subsequently suspended its membership in 2008.[32]

On 10 October 2014 an agreement on the termination of the Eurasian Economic Community was signed in Minsk after a session of the Interstate Council of the EAEC. The Eurasian Economic Community was terminated from 1 January 2015 in connection with the launch of the Eurasian Economic Union.[33]

Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia

Europe economical bloc
Economical integration blocs in European / Post-Soviet area: EU, EFTA, CEFTA and Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia

Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan created a customs union that entered into force in July 2010. Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan indicated interest in joining at the time.[34][35] Russia has been eager for Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine to join the custom union instead of the European Union, and the Moldovan break-away state of Transnistria has supported this. In 2013, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia announced plans to seek membership, but division over the issue in Ukraine led to the 2014 Ukrainian revolution after the Ukrainian government backed out of an EU Eastern Partnership in favor of the union. In 2014, voters in the Moldovan autonomous region of Gagauzia rejected closer ties to the EU in favor of the union.[36]

On 1 January 2012, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus established the Single Economic Space which ensures the effective functioning of a single market for goods, services, capital and labour, and to establish coherent industrial, transport, energy and agricultural policies.[37][38] The agreement included a roadmap for future integration and established the Eurasian Economic Commission (modelled on the European Commission).[39] The Eurasian Economic Commission serves as the regulatory agency for the Eurasian Customs Union, the Single Economic Space and the Eurasian Economic Union.[37]

Eurasian Economic Union

CIS-Eurasian Economic Union
  EAEU members
  Acceding EAEU Members
  Other CIS Members

The Eurasian Economic Union is an economic union of post-Soviet states. The treaty aiming for the establishment of the EAEU was signed on 29 May 2014 by the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, and came into force on 1 January 2015.[40] Treaties aiming for Armenia's and Kyrgyzstan's accession to the Eurasian Economic Union were signed on 9 October 2014 and 23 December respectively. Armenia's accession treaty came into force on 2 January 2015.[41] Although Kyrgyzstan's accession treaty will not come into force until May 2015, provided it has been ratified,[42] it will participate in the EAEU from the day of its establishment as an acceding state.[43][44][45][46][47] Moldova and Tajikistan are prospective members.

Collective Security Treaty Organization

Commonwealth of Independent States CSTO vs GUAM
  CSTO members
  GUAM members
  Other CIS members

Seven CIS member states, namely Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Armenia, have enhanced their military cooperation, establishing the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), this being an expansion of the previous Collective Security Treaty (CST). Uzbekistan which (alongside Georgia and Azerbaijan) withdrew from the CST in 1999, joined GUAM. Then in 2005 it withdrew from GUAM and joined the CSTO in 2006. On 28 June 2012, Uzbekistan suspended its membership in the CSTO.[48]

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NATO CSTO
NATO/CSTO

Three former Soviet states are members of NATO: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Poland, a former socialist nation, is also a NATO member. Georgia, where both public opinion and the ruling government favor NATO membership, is in the Intensified Dialogue program with NATO. Ukraine also declared joining NATO as its geopolitical goal once again in 2017 (first time being right after the Orange revolution and in the beginning of presidency of Viktor Yushchenko), after the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, during which the government officially declared neutrality and ceased to seek NATO membership.[49][50]

Other states in the Partnership for Peace and Individual Partnership Action Plan program include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

GUAM

Four member states, namely Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova established the GUAM group that was largely seen as intending to counter Russian dominance in the region. Notably, these four nations do not participate in any of the other regional organizations that sprang up in the region since the dissolution of the Soviet Union (other than the CIS).

Union of Russia and Belarus

Commonwealth of Independent States Union of Russia and Belarus
  Members of the Union
  CIS members who have shown interest in becoming members of the Union
  Other CIS members

The Union of Russia and Belarus was originally formed on 2 April 1996 under the name Commonwealth of Russia and Belarus, before being tightened further on 8 December 1999. It was initiated by the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. On paper, the Union of Russia and Belarus intends further integration, beyond the scope of mere cooperation, including the introduction of the ruble as a common currency.

Other regional organizations

Economic Cooperation Organization

ECO CDC Map
  Community of Democratic Choice
  Economic Cooperation Organization

The Economic Cooperation Organization was originally formed in 1985 by Turkey, Iran and Pakistan but in 1992 the organization was expanded to include Afghanistan and the six primarily Muslim former Soviet republics: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations

The post-Soviet disputed states of Abkhazia, Artsakh, South Ossetia, and Transnistria are all members of the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations which aims to forge closer integration.

Community of Democratic Choice

The Community of Democratic Choice (CDC) was formed in December 2005 at the primary instigation of Ukraine and Georgia, and composed of six post-Soviet states (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and three other countries of Eastern and Central Europe (Slovenia, Romania and the Republic of Macedonia). The Black Sea Forum (BSF) is a closely related organization. Observer countries include Armenia, Bulgaria, and Poland.

Just like GUAM before it, this forum is largely seen as intending to counteract Russian influence in the area. This is the only international forum centered in the post-Soviet space in which the Baltic states also participate. In addition, the other three post-Soviet states in it are all members of GUAM.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

SCO (orthographic projection)
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation:
  Member state
  Observer state
  Dialogue partner
  Applicants for observer status

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), is composed of China and five post-Soviet states, namely Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The organization was founded in 2001, though its predecessor, the Shanghai Five grouping, has existed since 1996. Its aims revolve around security-related issues such as border demarcation, terrorism and energy.[51]

Economic cooperation organizations

  • Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) with Moldova (it includes also non post-Soviet countries of the former Yugoslavia; previously, also included other Central European countries that left CEFTA when joining the European Union; CEFTA plays a role in Central Europe similar to what European Free Trade Association (EFTA) provides in Western Europe for non EU-members; this alliance an economical organization with strong cooperation with the European Union, for countries that do not want to participate in EurAsEC centered on Russia but that are seeking alliances to the West); even if Moldova is the only CEFTA country that is still within a weakening CIS, it no longer participates to the CSTO for most of the common security policy (but cannot join the EU because of incompatibility with WEU stability rules and the unsolved problem of Transnistria) but can still benefit from the Free Trade Area notably with Romania and Bulgaria (in the EU).
  • Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) with Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Turkey, Albania, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Armenia (an economic organisation closely related to the SCO but more focused regionally to include also Armenia; it also aims for the harmonious development of democracy for increasing the commerce in South-East Europe and includes some EU members, so it cannot be a regional free-trade union).
  • The European Union (EU) with the three Baltic countries that were the first ones to declare independence from the former USSR have never joined CIS after the collapse of USSR (it includes also now some post-communist countries in Central Europe, that have left CEFTA when entering the EU : Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovenia).

Political integration and security alliances

  • Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe (SPforSEE) with Moldova (similar in structure to CEFTA, but does not focus on economy but security, for those countries that are not NATO members); this organization largely cooperates with NATO, and is related to the group of observers at Western European Union (WEU).
  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), for Baltic countries, Poland, and Central European countries that have also joined the EU (the EU membership includes also WEU membership because they follow the Common Foreign and Security Policy and European Security and Defence Policy policies shared now by the EU, the WEU and all European NATO members).
  • The other remaining countries are those part of the former Yugoslavia, but their recent conflict and political tensions still does not allow them to cooperate efficiently for their political integration and for their mutual security; in addition, they still do not have full sovereignty in this domain (some of them are still under surveillance by EU or NATO, as mandated by UNO). They still need to find an internal stability and they can collaborate economically with the help of other organizations focusing on economy or political cooperation and development. However a more limited cooperation for security is possible through their membership to the larger Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
  • The only exception is Belarus (whose post-soviet democratic transition did not occur) that still rejects political integration, and all security alliances with NATO, OSCE, WEU or other countries in Europe other than Russia (which the process of reintegration of Belarus has been tightened in almost all domains).

Organizations in other domains

  • Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP) with Moldova (similar to SPforSEE, but focuses on political integration than cooperation for security, and to CEFTA but does not focus on trade).
  • Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) with Moldova (closely related to SEECP).
  • Central European Initiative (CEI) with Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus (and also Central and South-Western European countries in the European Union; it aims at helping Eastern European countries to reach the EU standards and cooperate politically and find a better economic development and a strong, working but more democratic legal system); it is the only regional organization where Belarus is still a member (but the political cooperation with Belarus is almost stalled, as it is the only country of the former Communist block country that balances in favor of stronger cooperation with Russia and against integration with EU and NATO; however Belarus remains isolated and still does not cooperate too in the SCO group led by Russia and China).
  • Black Sea Forum for Partnership and Dialogue (BSF) with Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Armenia (also non post-soviet countries that are NATO members, interested in their maintaining political stability and avoiding conflicts in the region: Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, whose first two are also now EU and CEI members, using EU rules for their political development); however this organization does not focus on helping countries to join the EU, but reaching common standards and good governance and internal stability and democracy like in the CEI.
  • None of these organizations are incompatible with the policy required for accessing EU membership in the domain of political cooperation and development.
  • Merging the CEI and BSF is desired by Central European countries, that are members of both (often in addition to EU with stronger objectives) that would like to simplify the development process, and also members of the Council of Europe that federates (but at very slow pace) all European efforts of political cooperation and development through the various regional organizations.
  • Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations

Other organizations

Apart from above, the former Soviet republics also hold membership in a number of multinational organizations such as:

Politics

Regarding political freedom in the former Soviet republics, Freedom House's 2015 report listed the following:

Similarly, the Worldwide Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders in 2015, recorded the following as regards press freedom:

It has been remarked that several post-Soviet states have not changed leadership since their independence, such as Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan until his surprise resignation in 2019, and Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan, until his death in September 2016. All of these had originally more limited terms but through decrees or referendums prolonged their stay in office (a practice also followed by Presidents Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan) Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan had likewise served as President since its independence until he was forced to resign as a result of the Kyrgyz revolution of 2005. Saparmurat Niyazov in Turkmenistan ruled from independence until his death in 2006, creating a personality cult around himself.

The issue of dynastical succession has been another element affecting the politics of some post-Soviet States. Heydar Aliyev, after constructing an extensive and ongoing cult of personality, handed the Presidency of Azerbaijan to his son, Ilham Aliyev. Theories about the children of other leaders in Central Asia being groomed for succession abound.[52] The participation of Akayev's son and daughter in the 2005 Kyrgyz parliamentary elections boosted fears of dynastic succession being used in Kyrgyzstan as well, and may have contributed to the anti-Akayev climate that led to his overthrow.

Separatist conflicts

Economic, political, national, military, and social problems have all been factors in separatism in the Post-Soviet space. In many cases, problems due to factors such as ethnic divisions existed before the fall of the Soviet Union, and upon the fall of the union were brought into the open.[53] Such territories and resulting military conflicts have so far been:

Current declared states

  •  Abkhazia, which is de facto independent from Georgia. Tensions in the area broke out when Georgia sent in troops in 1992 to control groups who wanted separation. The troops and most of the Georgian and Mingrelian speaking population were forced out in 1993, and the region declared independence in 1999. The 2008 war between Georgian forces and the separatist and Russian forces led to Russia's recognition of Abkhazia's independence.[54]
  •  Republic of Artsakh, which is de facto independent from Azerbaijan. Ethnic conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis began in 1988, and expanded into war which lasted till a ceasefire in 1994. Sporadic attempts at negotiating a final peace and sporadic bursts of violence have continued since then.[55]
  •  Donetsk People's Republic and  Lugansk People's Republic, unrecognized states which declared independence from Ukraine in 2014.
  •  South Ossetia, which is de facto independent from Georgia. The region declared its intent to seek independence in 1990, leading to a conflict which led to a ceasefire in 1992. Separatism became powerful after the election of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in 2004, and a referendum in 2006 was in favour of declaring independence. The 2008 war between Georgian forces and the separatist and Russian forces led to Russia's recognition of South Ossetia's independence.[56]
  •  Transnistria, which is de facto independent from Moldova. It declared independence in 1990, due to its majority Russian-speaking population fearing union with Romania. A ceasefire between Transnistrian forces and Moldovan forces has been in place since 1992, enforced by the presence of Russian forces in Transnistria.[57]

Former declared states

  •  Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, where Dzhokhar Dudayev declared independence from Russia in 1991, leading to a violent war between local separatist forces and the Russian army. Russia first invaded in 1994, withdrawing after a deal for increased autonomy was granted in 1996. Tensions have continued in the years since then, and the conflict has spilled over into neighbouring regions such as Dagestan, Ingushetia and North Ossetia–Alania. Russia claims that the situation in Chechnya has normalised.[58]
  •  Gagauzia, declared itself the "Gagauz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic" within Moldova on 12 November 1989, and the "Gagauz Soviet Socialist Republic", independent of Moldova but still within the Soviet Union, on 19 August 1990, but was reintegrated into Moldova as an autonomous region on 23 December 1994.[59][60][61]
  •  Tatarstan, declared itself to be a sovereign state after a referendum on 21 March 1992. Negotiations with Russia led to the signing of a treaty in 1994 which ended Tatarstan's de facto independence, but reserved significant autonomy for the Tatarstan government. In 2002 a new constitution was enacted for Tatarstan which removed the prior constitution's declaration that Tatarstan was a sovereign state.
  •  Republic of Crimea. The entire Crimean Peninsula has been outside the control of Ukrainian authorities since late February 2014, when Russian special forces and pro-Russian militias occupied the region.[62][63][64][65] In March 2014, a popular referendum in favor of accession to Russia was held in Crimea and Sevastopol, although Ukraine[66] and most of the international community refused to recognize the vote. The next day, the Republic of Crimea declared independence, and within days Russia absorbed the peninsula. Ukraine continues to claim Crimea as an integral part of its territory.

Civil wars

Civil wars unrelated to separatist movements have occurred twice in the region:

Colour revolutions

Since 2003, a number of (largely) peaceful "colour revolutions" have happened in some post-Soviet states after disputed elections, with popular protests bringing into power the former opposition.

Russian population in post-Soviet states

There is a significant Russophone population in most of the post-Soviet states, whose political position as an ethnic minority varies from country to country.[67] While Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, in addition to Russia, have kept Russian as an official language, the language lost its status in other post-Soviet states after the end of the Soviet Union. It maintains semi-official status in all CIS member states, because it is the organisation's official working language, but in the three Baltic States, the Russian language is not recognized in any official capacity. Georgia, since its departure from the CIS in 2009, has begun operating its government almost exclusively in the Georgian language.

Religion

While the Soviet system placed severe restrictions on religious intellectual life, traditions continued to survive. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Islamic movements have emerged alongside ethnic and secular ones. Vitaly Naumkin gives the following assessment: "Throughout the time of change, Islam has served as a symbol of identity, a force for mobilization, and a pressure for democracy. This is one of the few social disasters that the church has survived, in which it was not the cause. But if successful politically, it faces economic challenges beyond its grasp."[68]

The Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) plus Azerbaijan from Southern Caucasus are Muslim, except for their dwindling Russian and other European minorities. The Baltic States are historically Western Christian (Protestant and Roman Catholic), which adds another layer of pro-Western orientation to those countries, although the vast majority of what was the Protestant population (Estonia and northern Latvia) there is now irreligious. The dominant religion in the remaining former Soviet countries (Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine) is Orthodox Christianity. In most countries, religiosity has increased since the Soviet collapse.

LGBT rights

LGBT people may encounter difficulties not shared by non-LGBT residents. In Transnistria homosexuality is illegal. In some other regions, such as Russia and Ukraine, homosexual actions are legal, but there is still discrimination and bias towards the gay community.

Environment

The Soviet Union inherited environmental problems from the pre-Revolutionary era that it blamed on the failings and evils of capitalism.[69] The Soviet Union promoted environmental sentiments; it had a constitutional clause on environmental protection and promoted the idea that, by ending capitalism, environmental problems would cease to arise.[69][70] Some environmental strides were made, such as the banning of lead-based paint and leaded gasoline in the 20th century.[70] However, the prioritization of industrial production over environmental protection meant that many environmental issues were left to post-Soviet institutions, particularly air and water pollution in the Northern regions where industrialism was heaviest.[71] The Northern countries of Central Europe, including Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia formed what is referred to as the "black triangle" due to their heavy use of brown coal for energy.[71] Environmental degradation in the former Soviet Union is attributed to rapid industrialization and a lack of institutions that were able to curb pollution levels.[72] Many republics of the Soviet Union experienced soil degradation due to collective farming [71] In the 1970s, a Soviet study revealed vast technological inefficiencies in the USSR: compared to the West, the USSR created double the amount of pollutants for each product produced, and quadruple the amount of pollution for each car.[69] The Soviet regime also withheld information regarding the environmental problems facing them, and when these problems became evident to the public, authorities continued to attribute them to capitalism.[69] The Chernobyl disaster was a turning point in which the Soviets had to take responsibility for a huge environmental disaster amid pressures to disclose information regarding its causes and consequences, and this led to a broader discussion about the state of the environment as well as to concerns about nuclear energy.[69] As general unrest grew in the final years of the Soviet Union, the public began to demand environmental reform as part of their resistance to Communism. Many citizens wanted to capitalize on the political turnover to achieve an environmentalist agenda.[73] There was a push away from coal and towards cleaner forms of energy in the 1980s,[71] and 1986-1987 saw the first wave of environmental protests.[69] Village Prose literature by authors such as Valentin Rasputin fostered an environmentalist sentiment.[69] The Soviet "Green Front" was a populist environmental movement that had five subgroups: the Social-Ecological Union which promoted environmental solutions based in ecological practice, the Ecological Union which advocated for greater monitoring of pollution, the Ecological Foundation that sought to create funds through pollution taxes, the Ecological Society of the Soviet Union that called for a return to the Russian way of life that was closely connected to nature, and the All-Union Movement of Greens which was a culminating body of the four preceding groups.[69] Russian oil-drilling and the military were among the things they took issue with.[69] Critics of the Green Front opposed their effects on the chemical industry and claimed that it led to reduced commercial product availability of items such as soap, which was in very short supply in the late 1980s, and restricted access to pharmaceutical goods.[69]

It was expected that the transition to post-Soviet society would bring about environmental change from both democratic governments and NGOs, but the dissolution of the Soviet Union had both positive and negative effects on the environment. Transition brought about numerous changes that had both positive and negative environmental effects. The abandonment of croplands following dissolution of the Soviet Union led to the creation of carbon sinks.[74] Industrial activity drastically decreased, which reduced air pollution even as the economy took an upturn.[71] However, the introduction of a capitalist market caused new environmental problems: the increase in privately owned cars and the infrastructure changes to accommodate them, the increase in consumerism with no waste management to handle its byproducts, and the poorly-planned construction of retail sites.[71][75] Environmental clean-up efforts by post-Soviet regimes included institutional changes through the creation of or reformation of environmental agencies, and legislative changes through the introduction of new environmental regulations and their enforcement.[71] However, some contend that the efficacy of these reforms was curtailed by economic troubles in the 1990s.[71] New environmental standards were sometimes used by governments to lower preexisting ones, and many of the post-Soviet initiatives have been criticized as "neoliberal" for their basis in free market principles and belief that the market would correct for environmental problems.[71] Technological innovation was generally directed towards "end-of-pipe" technologies, which deal with the clean-up of emissions and their byproducts rather than the reduction of emissions.[75]

Nongovernmental environmental organizations did not exist under the Soviet Union.[76] Rather, some republics had state and local institutions for environmental oversight where citizens could voice concerns, but open criticism of the state was prohibited.[76] Conservation brigades, otherwise known as druzhiny,[69] engaged in preservationist and recreational outdoor activities.[76] However, environmental damage and openings in political freedom in the 1980s led to greater grassroots activism.[76] The Chernobyl disaster of 1986, its cover-up by national, republic and local government officials, and its environmental and health effects spurred many to action.[76] General dissatisfaction with the socialist regime and a push for democratization took an environmental focus.[76] As Soviet citizens became more comfortable with the Gorbachev-era ideals of glasnost and perestroika in the late 20th century, environmentalists became more outspoken in their demands, and radical splinter groups formed in the late 1980s.[76] The opening of borders led to the spread of ideas and partnership with international environmental NGOs who were able to visit and converse with environmentalists of post-Soviet nations.[76] The conservation state institutions from the Soviet era continued to exist into the post-Soviet era but experienced difficulty getting funding due to their connection with the socialist regime in national memory.[76] New environmental NGOs had challenges receiving funding as well as organizing, and the NGOs that survived were not as influential on national decision-making as the state.[76][73] Many NGOs expressed disappointment with the lack of substantial environmental change during times of political transformation.[75] It has also been contended that environmental issues are of little importance to Russian citizens today.[73] Many former-Soviet citizens abandoned their earlier interest in the environment after the achievement of independence, while continued demands for environmental reform were suppressed.

Russia

Nizhnehopersky Nature Park 008
Nizhnehopersky Nature Park

Russia has an expansive amount of land which contains a high amount of natural resources and biodiversity. Protected natural areas, or zapovedniki, were created under the Soviet Union.[77] Soviet leaders attributed former pollution and environmental degradation in Russia to private enterprise and capitalism.[77] However, environmental problems arose in Russia under the Soviets because industrialization was favored over environmentalism, and there was little discussion on how to properly use resources and they were depreciated.[77] The task of environmental governance was distributed among 15 different ministries.[77] There is controversy among academics as to whether environmental destruction under the Soviet Union can be attributed more to Marxist ideology or to the industrialization push.[77]

In 1988, the Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers formed the USSR Union Republic State Committee for Environmental Control, or the Goskompriroda.[69][77] The intention of this institution was resource management and environmental testing and oversight.[69] Eventually, however, the Goskompriroda was accused of holding "entrepreneurial interests," particularly related to nuclear power.[69] The 1990s saw experiments in taxing pollution of various forms, though this was largely ineffective due to the low charge levels and inflation, as well as more areas of protected land, but there was difficulty overseeing these areas due to small budgets.[77] In 1991, the Federal Act on the Protection of the Natural Environment was passed in the independent Russian Federation, and the Goskompriroda became the Ministry of the Environment, or the Minpriroda, and developed sustainable development goals.[69][77] In 1996, Yeltsin demoted the Ministry of the Environment to the State Committee on Environmental Protection, and in 2000 Putin ended the State Committee on Environmental Protection and the Federal Forestry Service and tasked the Ministry of Natural Resources with their responsibilities.[77] In 2001, to the ire of many environmental advocates, Russia passed a law that allowed the acceptance, treatment, and storage of nuclear fuel from other nations for profit.[77] The Environmental Doctrine was passed in 2002, the Water Code was passed in 2006, and the Forest Code was passed in 2007, though these policies have been critiqued for the difficulty in enforcing them.[77] Today, Russia has a low population density with most citizens gathered in the cities, so environmental degradation is concentrated in certain areas.[77] Putin is criticized by environmental advocates for prioritizing economic gain over environmental protection, and there are high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and frequent oil spills.[77]

Ukraine

Ukraine is made up of a diverse landscape consisting of plains, temperate forest, and mountains, five densely populated cities, and agricultural land that makes up 70% of the country.[78] Ukraine heavily increased industrial and agricultural production in the Soviet period, which had negative effects on the environment, as did the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.[78] Many of these issues have not been addressed post-independence due to lack of funding. Since independence, Ukraine has experienced a decrease in agricultural and industrial productivity and an increase in diseases, birth abnormalities, and child mortality, claimed to have been caused at least in part from the Chernobyl disaster and from polluted water and air.[78] The number of cars in Ukraine has increased post-independence.[78] Sewage waste has increased, but there has been no increase in wastewater treatment facilities to accommodate it, diverting the waste into natural bodies of water; the Black and Azov seas have been polluted by wastewater, though this occurs less with the reduction of industry; agricultural runoff has led to decreased fish populations, particularly in the Azov Sea.[78] The damming of the Dnipro for hydroelectric power caused flooding in local and residential areas, though the river has been recovering from contamination caused by the Chernobyl disaster.[78] Radioactive waste remains from the Chernobyl accident, the uranium industry, mining, and industrial processing.[78] There are numerous environmental agencies in Ukraine. In 1991, the Ukrainian Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) was formed. It manages the environment and its resources, but it has experienced decreased funding and staff since 1996.[78] There is also the Ministry for Forestry, the State Committee on Geology and Natural Resource Use, the State Committee on Water Management, the State Committee on Land Use, the Health Ministry, the Roach Traffic Inspectorate of Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the State Committee on Hydrometerology. Environmental education was also introduced into the school curriculum in the 1990s by the Ministry of Education.[78] Zelenyi svit, or "Green World," was a successful Ukrainian environmental organization whose mission was to hold the Ukrainian government accountable for their environmental failings, particularly the Chernobyl disaster, and to protect the Azov Sea through preventing construction of the Danube-Dnieper Canal.[69]

Central Asia

Proper water resource management is a significant environmental concern in the post-Soviet nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and the Karakalpakstan region, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.[79] Central Asia has an arid climate with hot summers and cold winters.[79] Once within the USSR, the Aral Sea Basin now crosses the geopolitical boundaries of these independent nations. Along with the Aral Sea Basin, Central Asia nations also extract freshwater from the Syr Darya, Amu Darya, and Zeravshan rivers.[79] These rivers receive the snow melt of surrounding mountains.[79]
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly-independent states kept their Soviet-era internal administrative structure but were unpracticed in cross-national natural resource management.[79] This has led to conflict regarding proper water allocation to meet the agricultural, industrial, and consumer demands of these nations.[79] Water quality degradation, diversion, and withdrawal has led to increased insecurity and conflict.[79]

Most of the water is used for irrigation of agriculture, with Uzbekistan the largest user of agricultural water.[79] Uzbekistan has double the population of its fellow nations and uses 3/5 of regional water supplies.[79] Together, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan use twice the amount of water for industrial activities used by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.[79]

The Interstate Coordinating Commission for Water Resources was formed in 1991 to allocate water from the Syr Darya and Amu Darya but has had difficulty distributing water fairly among nations due to limited funding and physical infrastructure.[79] This has led to conflict between the states.

To alleviate the stress on water resources in Central Asia, international organizations looking at the situation have advocated for creation of a river basin commission to represent each nation, equitably distribute water, and peacefully resolve conflicts.[79] It has also been suggested that each nation take responsibility by limiting its downstream environmental effects through reducing agricultural runoff, informing fellow nations of proposed actions which may impact water quality and supply, and sharing data regarding these natural water sources.[79]

Baltic States

The three Baltic States are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. These nations were de facto part of the Soviet Union after WWII until they restored independence in 1991. Afterwards, they have had difficulty acquiring fuels and meeting their energy needs.[80] For this reason, they were reliant on Russian oil, and did not have the capacity to acquire fuel from other producers, which had led to frequent fuel shortages.[80] Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania primarily used fossil fuels for energy including imported gas, oil, and petroleum products.[80] The Baltic States used fuels with high amounts of sulfur and pollutants, which has had a negative effect on the environment. Power plants constructed in the Baltic States under the USSR were inefficient, as they were designed to power the entire northwestern region of Soviet territory.[80] During this time, environmental monitoring and regulation was controlled at the local level, but the Baltic States had little influence over the state-managed industrial activities in their area.[80]

Concern for the environment fueled a desire for independence from the USSR.[80] Since declaring independence, the energy consumption of the Baltic States has declined due to a decrease in industrial activity, and each nation has created its own environmental oversight body: the Ministry of Environment in Estonia, the Environmental Protection Committee in Latvia, and the Environmental Protection Department in Latvia, all of which were under the legislative branch but independent from executive government.[80] Air pollution was high in the Baltic States due to the high sulfur and other pollutants emitted from their fuel sources. Water pollution was also considerable due to agricultural and industrial activity, as well as the legacy of Soviet military installations.[80] Emission charges were enacted in the Baltic States to reduce pollution levels.[80]

Northeastern Estonia and the Narva region in particular was the site of an oil-shale industry which provided electricity and heat.[80] Estonia was the only nation to have ever had an oil-shale based energy system.[80] Mining for oil-shale caused Estonia to have the highest amounts of pollution in the Baltic States.[80] Surrounding nations pressured Estonia to reduce its emissions, but a lack of desulfurization equipment has forced Estonia to instead lower its energy production, which has hurt the nation economically.[80] Water pollution has also been considered among the worst of Estonia's environmental problems because it does not have the infrastructure to effectively treat as much sewage as is created.[80]

Latvia produces the least amount of power and pollution and has the highest amount of forest damage of all the Baltic States.[80]

Lithuania is the largest producer of electricity of all three Baltic States.[80] Lithuania's land area is roughly 31% forested and is both state and privately owned.[81] Under the USSR, forest and other natural resources were state-owned and centrally managed.[81] The State determined how resources would be used and excluded the public from influencing forest policy.[81] The transition to a post-Soviet political and economic system led to privatization of forests and a market economy.[81] Today, Lithuania's forests are managed democratically and sustainably so as to preserve biodiversity and forest resources.[81]

Post-Soviet nostalgia

Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union a certain number of people have expressed a longing for the Soviet period and its values. The level of post-Soviet nostalgia varies across the former republics. For example, certain groups of people may blend the Soviet and post-Soviet experience in their daily lives..[82]

According to July 2012 polling in Ukraine by RATING, 42% of respondents supported the formation of a unified state of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus; earlier in 2012 this support had been 48%.[83] The situation sharply changed after Euromaidan and [[but also for marketing purposes by various companies.]].

A 2016 poll of Russian citizens conducted by Levada Center showed that the majority viewed the collapse of the USSR negatively and felt that it could have been avoided, and an even greater number would openly welcome a revival of the Soviet system.[84] A 2018 poll showed that 66% of Russians regretted the collapse of the USSR, setting a 15-year record. The majority were people older than 55.[85][86][87]

See also

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External links

Arrondissement

An arrondissement (; French: [aʁɔ̃dismɑ̃]) is any of various administrative divisions of France, Belgium, Haiti, certain other Francophone countries, and the Netherlands.

Business oligarch

The term business oligarch is almost a synonym of the term business magnate, borrowed by the English-speaking and western media from post-Soviet parlance to label those businessmen who quickly acquired huge wealth in post-Soviet states (mostly Russia and Ukraine) during the privatization in Russia and in other post-Soviet states in the 1990s. Post-Soviet oligarchs are magnates who control sufficient resources to influence national politics. A business group might be defined as an oligarch if it satisfies the following conditions:

owners are the largest private owners in the country

it possesses sufficient political power to promote its own interests

owners control multiple businesses, which intensively coordinate their activities.A typical example of a post-Soviet oligarch entity is the Privat Group - a large Ukraine-based transnational business conglomerate comprising dozens of industrial companies in several markets, controlled by only three stakeholders, and not through the stock exchange. For the history of business oligarchs in post-Soviet Union states see:

Russian oligarchs

Ukrainian oligarchsMore generally, an oligarch is a "member of an oligarchy; a person who is part of a small group holding power in a state".

Aristotle gave the concept of oligarchy some negative connotations, but the term does not necessarily imply wealth.

Compare "plutocrat".

Collective Security Treaty Organization

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO; Russian: Организация Договора о Коллективной Безопасности, Organizacija Dogovora o Kollektivnoj Bezopasnosti, ODKB) is an intergovernmental military alliance that was signed on 15 May 1992. In 1992, six post-Soviet states belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States—Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—signed the Collective Security Treaty (also referred to as the "Tashkent Pact" or "Tashkent Treaty"). Three other post-Soviet states—Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Georgia—signed the next year and the treaty took effect in 1994. Five years later, six of the nine—all but Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan—agreed to renew the treaty for five more years, and in 2002 those six agreed to create the Collective Security Treaty Organization as a military alliance. Uzbekistan rejoined the CSTO in 2006 but withdrew in 2012.

Nikolai Bordyuzha was appointed secretary general of the new organization. On 23 June 2006, Uzbekistan became a full participant in the CSTO; and its membership was ratified by the Uzbek parliament on 28 March 2008. It suspended its membership in 2012. The CSTO is an observer organization at the United Nations General Assembly.

The CSTO charter reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force. Signatories would not be able to join other military alliances or other groups of states, while aggression against one signatory would be perceived as an aggression against all. To this end, the CSTO holds yearly military command exercises for the CSTO nations to have an opportunity to improve inter-organization cooperation. A CSTO military exercise called "Rubezh 2008" was hosted in Armenia, where a combined total of 4,000 troops from all seven constituent CSTO member countries conducted operative, strategic and tactical training with an emphasis towards furthering efficiency of the collective security element of the CSTO partnership. The largest of such exercises was held in Southern Russia and central Asia in 2011, consisting of more than 10,000 troops and 70 combat aircraft. In order to deploy military bases of a third country in the territory of the CSTO member-states, it is necessary to obtain the official consent of all its members.The CSTO employs a "rotating presidency" system in which the country leading the CSTO alternates every year.

Comparative air force enlisted ranks of Post-Soviet states

Rank comparison chart of enlisted for all air forces of Post-Soviet states.

Comparative air force officer ranks of Post-Soviet states

Rank comparison chart of all air forces of Post-Soviet states.

Comparative army enlisted ranks of Post-Soviet states

Rank comparison chart of enlisted for all armies of Post-Soviet states.

Comparative army officer ranks of Post-Soviet states

Rank comparison chart of all armies of Post-Soviet states.

Comparative navy enlisted ranks of Post-Soviet states

Rank comparison chart of enlisted for all navies of Post-Soviet states.

Comparative navy officer ranks of Post-Soviet states

Rank comparison chart of all navies of Post-Soviet states.

Depopulation of cockroaches in post-Soviet states

A mass depopulation of cockroaches has been observed since the beginning of the 21st century in Russia and other countries of the former USSR. Observers have noted a quick disappearance of various types of cockroaches from cities and towns in Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus.

Scientists from Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg have suggested that the Oriental cockroach should be added to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Ethnic Russians in post-Soviet states

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) in December 1991, about 25 million ethnic Russians in post-Soviet states found themselves living outside the Russian Federation.

All former Soviet citizens had a time window within which they could transfer their former Soviet citizenship to Russian citizenship. Where they did not exercise that choice, their resulting citizenship status outside Russia varied by state: from no perceivable change in status – as in Belarus – to becoming permanently resident "non-citizens" – as in Estonia and Latvia, which restricted citizenship to their pre-World War II citizens and their offspring (regardless of ethnic group) upon restoration of their independence in continuity with their sovereign identities prior to June 1940.

However, most people in practice found the "time window" concept not feasible, as the citizenship issue linked closely to the issue of owning property owned by the state before privatization. For many people, a change of citizenship would actually mean relocating and leaving behind everything - or most of what they had previously owned or been able to access.As of 2014 the largest ethnic Russian diaspora populations outside Russia live in the United States and in the "near abroad" countries. The populations involved include those in: Ukraine (about 8 million), Kazakhstan (about 3.8 million), the United States (about 3 million), Belarus (about 780,000), Uzbekistan (about 650,000) Kyrgyzstan (about 360,000) and Latvia (about 556,422).In June 2006 Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a plan to introduce national policy aiming at encouraging ethnic Russian immigration to Russia.

^ Does not include Abkhazia (2011 census: 22,077 Russians or 9.1% of the population) or South Ossetia (2007 estimate: 2,100 Russians or 3.0% of the population).

^ In Turkmenistan, there were estimated to be at most 150,000 ethnic Russians as of 2007, or under 2% of the population. In Uzbekistan the same year, the Russian population stood at some 800,000 people or under 4% of the country.

Geographical distribution of Russian speakers

This article details the geographical distribution of Russian-speakers. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the status of the Russian language often became a matter of controversy. Some Post-Soviet states adopted policies of de-Russification aimed at reversing former Russification trends.

After the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, de-Russification occurred in newly-independent Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and in the Kars Oblast (which became part of Turkey).

The newly-formed Soviet Union initially implemented a policy of Korenizatsiya, which aimed (in part) at the reversal of the tsarist Russification of the non-Russian areas of the country. Korenizatsiya (meaning "nativization" or "indigenization", literally "putting down roots") was the early Soviet nationalities policy promoted mostly in the 1920s but with a continuing legacy in later years. The primary policy consisted of promoting representatives of titular nations of Soviet republics and national minorities on lower levels of the administrative subdivision of the state, into local government, management, bureaucracy and nomenklatura in the corresponding national entities.

Joseph Stalin mostly reversed the implementation of Korenizatsiya in the 1930s, not so much by changing the letter of the law but by reducing its practical effects and by introducing de facto Russification. The Soviet system heavily promoted the Russian language as the "language of inter-ethnic communication". Eventually, in 1990, Russian became legally the official all-Union language of the Soviet Union, with constituent republics having rights to declare their own official languages.After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, about 25 million Russians (about 1/6 of former Soviet Russians) found themselves outside Russia, which constitutes about 10% of the population of the post-Soviet states other than Russia. Many millions of them subsequently became refugees due to various inter-ethnic conflicts.

LGBT rights in the Post-Soviet states

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the former Soviet Union face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Since 1 January 2016, in Estonia (and there only), same-sex couples have recognition called a cohabitation agreement that gives the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples (with the exemption of marriage and Joint adoption). On 11 January 2019, the Supreme Court of Lithuania ruled that same-sex spouses must be granted residence permits, while a cohabitation agreement is pending.

Memorial (society)

Memorial (Russian: Мемориа́л) is a Russian historical and civil rights society that operates in a number of post-Soviet states. It focuses on recording and publicising the Soviet Union's totalitarian past, but also monitors human rights in Russia and other post-Soviet states.

Rehabilitation (Soviet)

Rehabilitation (Russian: реабилитация, transliterated in English as reabilitatsiya or academically rendered as reabilitacija) was a term used in the context of the former Soviet Union, and the Post-Soviet states. Beginning after the death of Stalin in 1953, the government undertook the political and social restoration, or political rehabilitation, of persons who had been repressed and criminally prosecuted without due basis. It restored the person to the state of acquittal. In many cases, rehabilitation was posthumous, as thousands of victims had been executed or died in labor camps.

The government also rehabilitated several minority populations which it had relocated under Stalin, and allowed them to return to former territories and in some cases restored their autonomy in those regions.

Russians in Israel

The Russians in Israel are ethnic Russian citizens who are immigrants to Israel from ethnic Russian communities of the Soviet Union and post-Soviet states, and their descendants. They are mostly members of mixed families, more specifically, Halachically non-Jewish members of Jewish households living in Israel. A few are descended from Russian Subbotnik families, who have migrated to Israel over the past century. People of full or partial ethnic Russian ancestry number around 300,000 of the Israeli population from the immigrants from the Soviet Union and post-Soviet states, and the number of Russian passport holders living in Israel is in the hundreds of thousands.Most ethnic Russian people in Israel have full Israeli citizenship and are involved in the country's economy on all levels.

Satellite state

A satellite state is a country that is formally independent in the world, but under heavy political, economic and military influence or control from another country. The term was coined by analogy to planetary objects orbiting a larger object, such as smaller moons revolving around larger planets, and is used mainly to refer to Central and Eastern European countries of the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War or to Mongolia or Tannu Tuva between 1924 and 1990, for example. As used for Central and Eastern European countries it implies that the countries in question were "satellites" under the hegemony of the Soviet Union. In some contexts it also refers to other countries in the Soviet sphere of influence during the Cold War—such as North Korea (especially in the years surrounding the Korean War of 1950–1953) and Cuba (particularly after it joined the Comecon in 1972). In Western usage, the term has seldom been applied to states other than those in the Soviet orbit. In Soviet usage, the term applied to the states in the orbit of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan.

The Oxford English Dictionary traces the use of the phrase satellite state in English back at least as far as 1916.

In times of war or political tension, satellite states sometimes serve as buffers between an enemy country and the nation exerting control over the satellites. "Satellite state" is one of several contentious terms used to describe the (alleged) subordination of one state to another. Other such terms include puppet state and neo-colony. In general, the term "satellite state" implies deep ideological and military allegiance to the hegemonic power, whereas "puppet state" implies political and military dependence, and "neo-colony" implies (often abject) economic dependence. Depending on which aspect of dependence is being emphasised, a state may fall into more than one category.

Types of inhabited localities in Russia

The classification system of the types of inhabited localities in Russia, the former Soviet Union, and some other post-Soviet states has certain peculiarities compared with the classification systems in other countries.

Urban-type settlement

Urban-type settlement (Russian: посёлок городско́го ти́па, translit. posyolok gorodskogo tipa, abbreviated: Russian: п.г.т., translit. p.g.t.; Ukrainian: селище міського типу, translit. selyshche mis'koho typu, abbreviated: Ukrainian: с.м.т., translit. s.m.t.; Belarusian: пасёлак гарадскога тыпу, translit. pasiolak haradskoha typu; Polish: osiedle typu miejskiego; Bulgarian: селище от градски тип, translit. selishte ot gradski tip) is an official designation for a semi-urban settlement (or a former town), used in several Eastern European countries. The term was historically used in Bulgaria, Poland, and the Soviet Union, and remains in use today in 10 of the post-Soviet states.

This type of locality has been used in all 15 member republics of the former Soviet Union since 1922 when it replaced a number of terms which could have been translated by the English term "town" (Russia – posad, Ukraine – містечко, mistechko, Belarus – мястэчка, miastečka (the latter two are diminutives from місто and места, correspondingly, similarly to the Polish word: miasteczko, lit. 'small town' being derived from miasto) and others). It was introduced later in Poland (1954) and Bulgaria (1964). All the urban-type settlements in Poland were transformed into other types of settlement (town or village) in 1972, while in Bulgaria and five of the post-Soviet republics (namely Armenia, Moldova, and the three Baltic states) – in the early 1990s. Today this term is still used in the other nine post-Soviet republics – Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

What counts as an urban-type settlement differs between time periods and countries, and often between different divisions of a single country. However, the criteria generally focus on the presence of urban infrastructure or resort facilities for urban residents.

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