Friday, June 9, 2017

Mikhail Gorbachev & New Countries on the Map

New Countries on the Map
The late 1980s and early 1990s saw changes that no one could have guessed just a few years earlier. Some European countries ceased to exist, and others that had been taken over were restored to their former state. Among these restored countries is the Federal Republic of Germany.

A major event in Europe was the collapse of communism after more than 70 years.

The Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Fifteen independent European nations now exist where the former Soviet Union was.

Mikhail Gorbachev
One of the most important figures in this historical drama was Mikhail Gorbachev (mee»kah»EEL gawr»buh*CHAWF).

Gorbachev served as the president of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991. During these years he brought many changes to Soviet society Gorbachev put into action a new economic plan that he called perestroika (pair*uh*STROY*kuh), or "rebuilding." Perestroika took some of the economic decision-making power away from the central government and gave it to local manufacturers and consumers.

Gorbachev also began a new political plan called glasnost (GLAHS»nohst), which means "openness." Glasnost gave Soviet citizens the freedom to speak out without fear of being punished. It also gave a certain amount of religious freedom to Soviet citizens. The news media gained the freedom to report information that had been hidden. As part of glasnost, Gorbachev freed political dissidents  people who had spoken out against the government.

People in the Soviet Union and around the world watched the changes in amazement. "Our jaws cannot drop any lower," wrote one journalist.

Boris Yeltsin was the president of Russia, which at that time was still a part of the Soviet Union. In December 1991, he and the presidents of other Soviet republics made a startling announcement. They declared that the Soviet Union no longer existed. In its place they set up a loose association, or group, called the Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS.

From its beginning, the CIS set out to build a market economy for its member countries. By 1995,12 of the 15 former Soviet republics had joined the CIS as independent countries. These countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan (a»zer»by»JAHN), Belarus (byehvluhvROOS), Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova (mahl*DOH*vah), Russia, Tajikistan (tah»jih*kih*STAN), Turkmenistan, Ukraine (yoo»KRAYN), and Uzbekistan.

What loose association of independent states replaced the Soviet Union?

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