Factors in the collapse of the USSR.

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Collapse of USSR

In the late 80's the appointment of Mikhail Gorbachev presented a new and perhaps brighter future for what was currently a poor and bitter USSR. Finally in 1991 after almost 50 years of of the cold war, the USSR was dissolved.

Unable to compete with American arms productions.

Low living standards within USSR while images of better western life are easily seen.

Massive heavy industry output but poor production in essentials like food crops.

Using dated and decaying technology and unable to afford the same as the richer Western world.

1985: Mikhail Gorbachev ascends to power in Soviet Union

1986: Oil prices fall to almost half of their 1985 average, and stay low for the rest of

 the decade. Soviet oil production falls steeply from 1987 onward.

1986: Gorbachev ends economic aid to Soviet satellites

After Gorbachev became the leader of the USSR he presented 2 new  schemes to help with this crumbling economy and the bitter people of the USSR. These schemes were called Perestroika and Glasnost. Perestroika was the idea to bring about economic reforms which was enacted by Gorbachev in 1987, in an attempt to counter act the Soviet Union's disappearing economy. Some free market elements were added in a hope to help but not enough elements were instilled to bring about reform. The free-market policies were enough to result in failed businesses, but shortages became common as price controls were kept in place. With price ceilings limiting profits, the incentive to produce sufficient quantities was removed. Glasnost on the other hand was used to deal with the Soviet public who were becoming more disenchanted with their secretive government, Gorbachev attempted to compensate by committing to openness and transparency with the media. However, this backfired as the public learned of long-standing political cover ups revealing past and recent atrocities, for example the Chernobyl incident which caused many to lose lives and hundreds of people to have mutations and disfigurements from the radiation. They also learnt of missteps by their leaders, past and present, and of social and health failures of the USSR and the true extent of national economic problems. This further eroded support for the regime.

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However because of the introduction of these policies, more and more reformers were encouraged to push for further liberalisation. Soon popular opinion in the soviet union had shifted towards a more Western approach with more political and economic ideas adopted from the West.

Some people saw this as a chance to reject the whole ideals of communism and called for such things.

Gorbachev's policies allowed reformers in the communist parties of Eastern Europe to push for measures.

1989: Solidarity movement in Poland wins congressional elections; next year, its

 leader, Lech Walesa, won the Presidency.

1990 In March, the ...

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