Talk:History of the Soviet Union (1953–64)

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Work in progress[edit]

I do acknowledge that this article has its gaps, as it is a work in progress. The gaps (especially domestic mobilization for the Cold War, and major events in the Cold War) will be filled shortly. 172

Article section: "Perestroika, Glasnost, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union"[edit]

The piece below (the whole section) is cut out from the body, since it almost letter-to-letter duplicates Collapse of the Soviet Union. Mikkalai 19:50, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Gorbachev has accused Boris Yeltsin, his old rival and Russia's first post-Soviet president, of tearing the country apart out of a desire to advance his own personal interests.

Gorbachev instituted a number of political reforms under the name of Glasnost, these included relaxing censorship and political repression, reducing the powers of the KGB and democratisation. The reforms were intended to break down resistance against Gorbachev's economic reforms, by conservative elements within the Communist Party. Under these reforms, much to the alarm of party conservatives. Competitive elections were introduced for the posts of officials (by people within the communist party).

Gorbachev's relaxation of censorship and attempts create more political openness. However had the unintended effect of re-awakening long suppressed nationalist and anti-Russian feelings in the Soviet Union's constituent republics. During the 1980s calls for greater independence from Moscow's rule grew louder, this was especially marked in the Baltic Republics of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, which had been annexed into the Soviet Union by Stalin in 1940. Nationalist feeling also took hold in other Soviet republics such as the Ukraine and Azerbaijan. These nationalist movements were strengthened greatly by the declining Soviet economy, whereby Moscow's rule became a convenient scapegoat for economic troubles. Gorbachev had accidentally unleashed a force that would ultimately destroy the Soviet Union.

On February 15, 1989, Soviet forces completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Soviet Union continued to support the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan with substantial aid until the end of 1991. In 1989 the communist governments of the Soviet Union's satellite states were overthrown one by one with feeble resistance from Moscow.

By the late 1980s the process of openness and democratisation began to run out of control, and went far beyond what Gorbachev had intended. In elections to the regional assemblies of the Soviet Union's constituent republics, nationalists swept the board. As Gorbachev had weakened the system of internal political repression, the ability of the USSR's central Moscow government to impose its will on the USSR's constituent republics had been largely undermined.

On February 7, 1990 the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party agreed to give up its monopoly of power. The USSR's constituent republics began to assert their national sovereignty over Moscow, and started a "war of laws" with the central Moscow government, in which the governments of the constituent republics repudiated all-union legislation where it conflicted with local laws, asserting control over their local economies and refusing to pay tax revenue to the central Moscow government. This strife caused economic dislocation, as supply lines in the economy were broken, and caused the Soviet economy to decline further.

Gorbachev made desperate and ill-fated attempts to assert control, notably in the Baltic Republics, but the power and authority of the central government had been dramatically and irreversibly undermined. On March 11, 1990, Lithuania declared independence and pulled out of the union. However, a large part of the population of the Lithuanian SSR comprised ethnic Russians, and the Red Army had a strong presence there. The Soviet Union initiated an economic blockade of Lithuania and kept troops there "to secure the rights of ethnic Russians." In January 1991, clashes between Soviet troops and Lithuanian civilians occurred, leaving 20 dead. This further weakened the Soviet Union's legitimacy, internationally and domestically. On March 30, 1990, the Estonian supreme council declared Soviet power in Estonia since 1940 to have been illegal, and started a process to re-establish Estonia as an independent state.

Also amongst Gorbachev's reforms, was the introduction of a directly elected president of the RSFR (Russia). The election for this post was held in June 1991. The populist candidate Boris Yeltsin, who was an outspoken critic of Mikhail Gorbachev won 57% percent of the vote, and humiliated Gorbachev's preferred candidate, Former Prime Minister Ryzhkov, who won just 16% of the vote.

On August 20, 1991, the republics were to sign a new union treaty, making them independent republics in a federation with a common president, foreign policy and military. However, on August 18, a group of Gorbachev's ministers led by Gennadi Yaneyev, backed by the KGB and military, staged a coup d'état. Gorbachev was held prisoner in his summer residence on the Crimean peninsula (Ukraine), and martial law was declared in Russia on August 19. Large groups of soldiers controlled Moscow, but no politicians were arrested. During this time, Estonia declared its independence on August 20.

Boris Yeltsin and the semi-democratically elected Russian parliament opposed the coup, and the coup makers gave up on August 21, the same day that the third Baltic Republic, Latvia, declared its independence. Immediately after the coup had failed, and before Mikhail Gorbachev returned to Moscow, the power vacuum was filled by Boris Yeltsin, Boris Yeltsin immediately signed a decree banning the Communist party throughout Russia, this ban was soon extended throughout the Soviet Union. Thus 70 years of Communist rule effectively came to an end.

On December 21, 11 of the 12 remaining republics (all except Georgia) founded the Commonwealth of Independent States, effectively ending the USSR. On December 25, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president, and on December 26 the Supreme Soviet officially dissolved the USSR.

Article section: "Conclusions: the post-Communist transition"[edit]

IMO this section must go away as well, since the topic is covered in much greater datail in History of post-communist Russia.

One may consider puting brief summaries into the two sections instead of their texts, for cohesiveness. Mikkalai 20:02, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)

The best way to resolve this problem is to get rid of these part 1 and part 2 articles and use dates. How about History of Russia and the Soviet Union (1917-1927) framed by the Great October Socialist Revolution and Stalin's consolidation of power, History of the Soviet Union (1927-1953) on the Stalin years, History of the Soviet Union (1953-1985 ending before Gorbachev, and History of the Soviet Union (1985-1981). We can move the content in Collapse of the Soviet Union to a new article on 1985-1991. We should do this regardless, duplicate material notwithstanding, given that all the other history series (U.S., Germany, Brazil, etc.) are organized chronologically. 172 20:04, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)


Re: "...although the Soviet Union still lagged far behind its western rivals."

I know this is true; anyone living on this planet knows that this is true. But we're going to have to be more specific (i.e. what's lagging?). Growth rates (which wouldn't be the case overall throughout the first couple of decades of planning for the most part)? Levels of development? If so, what indicators of development? Really, one can go on forever listing ways to go about comparing development. That's a whole other field in and of itself. 172 18:39, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Re " general standard of living."

This is getting better, but I'm still trying to figure out a way we can be more specific.

Better yet, it's too complicated to draw this comparision in a single sentence, esp. given that the Soviets were starting off at a much lower level of development. The vastly different economic structures don't make for easy, quick comparisions either.
Instead, it would probably be better for our purposes to note that growth rates began to stagnate next to the West in the '70s. 172 19:49, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Then do so. Stop just reverting other users' contributions; it's obnoxious. -- VV 22:26, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)
So this is coming from someone whose user history looks like a directory of WP revert wars since 8/6/03? I can't find evidence of having written any articles among the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of summaries reading "rv." Oh yeah, it's obnoxious.
Now in all seriousness, I don't think mentioning that comparision toward the end of that very section is really important; there's already an entire section (written by me, incidentally) dealing with the topic. But if you yearn for a unfavorable comparison of the USSR next to the West situated in that particular part of the article and your emotional well-being depends on it, please write it yourself. I cannot do this, given that I'm not privy to your thoughts. I'm not going to stop you if it's accurate and logical. 172 00:54, 22 Apr 2004 (UTC)


Nothing about Afghanistan in the Brezhnev's article.--Nixer 11:37, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Khrushchev & Terror[edit]

Any mention of Khrushchev's end to the arbitrary terror of the Stalinist Era... I'm wary of inserting into an article this long. Either way, it is significant - that a coup was possible against him, and that this coup was bloodless was diametrically opposite to the purge of political rivals under Stalin. Khrushchev himself said, 'The fear's gone. That's my contribution'.

Releases from the Gulag[edit]

In the third paragraph it is said that the number of prisoners in gulag declined from 13 to 5 million people, but when I used this information in a seminar at school I was told to be wrong - the numbers were 2.5 to something half of it. That the numbers here are exaggerated... Although I do study history this is not my major, so someone more versed in this should look it up from a trusty source.

  • Same number as above (2.4 mil) is quoted on the GULAG page. See the part of the article concerning pre-dissolution years. - Peter Vasiljev (talk)

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1956 Hungarian uprising casualties[edit]

The article notes that during the 1956 Hungarian uprising "About 25,000 to 50,000 Hungarian insurgents and 7,000 Soviet troops were killed", therefore contradicting the actual 1956 Hungarian uprising article. Can anyone confirm these figures? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bokskar (talkcontribs) 01:28, 12 August 2008 (UTC)


Why is Kruzchev's name appear as Marwan throughout the article? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:32, 6 March 2009 (UTC)

Khrushchev and Censorship[edit]

I'm just a layman so don't like to edit anything, but in the paragraph talking about Khrushchev's relaxing of censorship in the arts it kind of gives the impression that all repression of artistic expression was voluntary on the part of the artists and authors. I don't mean to suggest that any of the information here is inaccurate: of course people didn't want to get into trouble. It just seems to me that there ought to be another sentence here explaining that censorship was still very active in the USSR during this time, and this is what lead to artists still conforming to the state, eg Pasternak not collecting his Nobel Prize due to threats from the gvmt. I recognise that this is covered more in depth in Khrushchev's article, but surely a little bit of clarification here couldn't hurt, if anyone has the time or patience to add it in. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:14, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

Local revolts in 1954?[edit]

A recently published book about Russian elite forces, which seems serious, mentions that in May 1954 there would have been revolts in a number of Soviet cities that were crushed and information about them silenced. Cities specifically mentioned are Kingirsk and Dzjezkagansk (N.B. there may be other transcribations of these names). Anyone having any additional information about this? (talk) 14:52, 31 October 2016 (UTC)