Friday, June 25, 2010

Formation of the CIS and Official end of the USSR

Formation of the CIS and Official end of the USSR

The final round of the Soviet Union collapse took place following the Ukrainian popular referendum on December 1, 1991 wherein 90% of voters opted for independence. The leaders of Slavic republics agreed to meet for a discussion of possible forms of relationship, alternative to Gorbachev’s struggle for a union. On December 8, 1991 the leaders of the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian republics met in Belavezhskaya Pushcha and signed the Belavezha Accords declaring the Soviet Union dissolved and replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Gorbachev described this as an unconstitutional coup, but it soon became clear that the development could not be halted. On December 12, 1991, the legislature of the Russian Soviet Republic formally accepted the secession of Russia from the Soviet Union, by ratifying the Belavezha Accords and denouncing the 1922 Treaty on the creation of the Soviet Union. On December 17, 1991, twelve of the fifteen soviet republics signed the European Energy Charter in the Hague as if they were sovereign states, along with 28 other European countries, the European Community and four non-European countries.

Doubts remained over the authority of the Belavezha Accords to effect the dissolution of the Soviet Union, since they were signed by only five of the Soviet Republics. However, on December 21, 1991, the representatives of all Soviet Republics, except Georgia, signed the Alma Ata Protocol, confirming the dissolution of the Union and also making several provisions consequential to the extinction of the USSR. Also on that same date, all former Soviet republics, except the three Baltic States, agreed to join the CIS. The documents signed at Alma Ata on December 21 also authorized Russia to succeed the UN membership of the USSR, which meant that Russia would take the USSR seat in the Security Council. On December 24, 1991, the Soviet Ambassador to the UN delivered to the Secretary General a letter by Russia’s president, Boris Yeltsin, informing him that, in virtue of that agreement, Russia, was the successor State to the USSR for the purposes of UN membership. This document was circulated among the other member states of the UN, and, there being no objection, it was declared accepted on December 31. On December 25, 1991, Gorbachev, yielding to the inevitable, resigned as president of the USSR, declaring the office extinct and ceding all the powers still vested in it to the president of Russia: Yeltsin. On the night of that same day, the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time over the Kremlin. Finally, a day later on December 26, 1991, the Supreme Soviet recognized the extinction of the Union and dissolved itself. By December 31, 1991 all official Soviet institutions had ceased operations as individual republics assumed the central government’s role. The dissolution of the Soviet Union also ended the long time Cold War.

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