The post-Soviet states, also collectively known as the former Soviet Union (FSU) or former Soviet Republics, are the 15 independent states that emerged from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in its dissolution in December 1991. On February 16th, Lithuania was first to restore its independence, then in August 1991 Latvia and Estonia followed on the basis of state continuity; while the remaining 12 republics are deemed to have seceded from the Soviet Union and are thus referred to as the Newly Independent States (NIS). The NIS subsequently formed the CIS and most joined CSTO, while the Baltic states eschewed that path and instead joined both the European Union and NATO.
- 1 States and geographical groupings
- 2 Economy
- 3 Developmental progress
- 4 Regional organizations
- 5 Other regional organizations
- 6 Politics
- 7 Post-Soviet nostalgia
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
States and geographical groupings
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).
|Baltic states||East-Central Europe||Southern Caucasus|
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 in 1990-1991 and made efforts to rebuild and restructure their economic systems, with varying results. The process triggered a severe transition decline, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dropping by more than 40% between 1990 and 1995. 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. The reconfiguration of public finance in compliance with the principles of market economy resulted in dramatically reduced spending on health, education and other social programs, leading to a sharp increase in poverty. The economic shocks associated with wholesale privatization resulted in the deaths of roughly 1 million working age individuals throughout the former Soviet bloc in the 1990s.
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 reached GDP greater than what they had in 1991.[not in citation given] 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. This could be perceived as failure of capitalism to improve the standard of living in Russia, and combined with the aftershocks of the 1998 economic crisis it led to a return of more interventionist economic policies by Vladimir Putin's administration.
Change in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in constant prices, 1991-2007
|Eastern European states|
*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.
The post-Soviet states listed according to their Human Development Index scores (2013).
Very High Human Development:
High Human Development:
Medium Human Development:
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:
Commonwealth of Independent States
Main article: Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) consists of 11 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, one country (Ukraine) is a founding and participating country, but legally not a member country, and one country (Georgia) left the organization in 2009.
Eurasian Economic Community
Main article: Eurasian Economic Community
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, when the process of merging Central Asian Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Community began; it joined on 25 January 2006.
Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia
Main article: 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. 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 Transnitria 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.
CIS free trade area
In 1994, the CIS countries agreed to create a free trade area, but the agreements were never signed, so in 2009 a new agreement was reached to create an FTA by the end of 2010 or beginning of 2011.
Collective Security Treaty Organization
Main article: Collective Security Treaty Organization
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 currently it is again seeking closer ties with Russia (thus in 2006 it has joined EurAsEc and later CSTO). CSTO and EurAsEc are closely related organizations.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Main article: North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Three former Soviet states are members of NATO: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Georgia, where both public opinion and the ruling government favor NATO membership, is in the Intensified Dialogue program with NATO. In Ukraine after the 2010 electoral victory of Viktor Yanukovych, the government officially declared neutrality and no longer seeks NATO membership, as it did after the Orange revolution and the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko.
Main article: GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development
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
Main article: Union of Russia and Belarus
The Union of Russia and Belarus was originally formed on April 2, 1996 under the name Commonwealth of Russia and Belarus, before being tightened further on December 8, 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
Main article: 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 of Democratic Choice
Main article: 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.
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
Main article: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
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.
For economic cooperation
For political integration and security alliances
In other domains
It has been remarked that several post-Soviet states have not changed leadership since their independence, such as Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan and Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan. 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 Emomalii 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. 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.
See also: Post-Soviet 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. Such territories and resulting military conflicts have so far been:
See also: Post-Soviet conflicts
Civil wars unrelated to separatist movements have occurred twice in the region:
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
Main articles: Russians in Ukraine, Russians in Kazakhstan, Russians in Latvia, Russians in Estonia, Russians in Lithuania and Russians in Georgia
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. 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 independence from the CIS in 2009, has begun operating its government almost exclusively in the Georgian language.
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."
The Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), plus Azerbaijan, 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 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.
See also: Ostalgie
Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union a certain number of people have expressed a longing for the Soviet regime and its values. The level of post-Soviet nostalgia varies across the former republics. Russia and the Caspian Sea countries are inclined to be pro-Soviet, whereas the Baltic States have traditionally been the least nostalgic towards the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, there are certain groups of people even in the Baltic States who continue to blend the Soviet and post-Soviet experience in their daily lives.[clarification needed].