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Soviet Union

The Soviet Union ―officially called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ( USSR )― was a Marxist-Leninist federal state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991. [1]

The USSR was born as a union of four Soviet Socialist Republics, formed after the October Revolution of 1917 , and grew to 15 by 1956 .

The geographic boundaries of the Soviet Union varied over time, but after World War II , from 1945 until dissolution, the boundaries roughly corresponded to those of the defunct Imperial Russia, with the notable exclusions of Poland , most of Finland , and Alaska .

It was often improperly referred to as Russia , as its largest and most dominant constituent state. From 1945 to 1991, in the period known as the Cold War , the Soviet Union and the United States were the two world superpowers that dominated the global agenda of economic policy, foreign affairs, military operations, cultural exchange, scientific progress including the initiation of space exploration, and sports (including the Olympic Games ).

Beyond the errors that led to its disappearance, this country played an essential role in the defeat of fascism and in the advancement of humanity towards new, more just and supportive forms of social organization.


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  • 1 History
    • 1 The Revolution and the founding of the Soviet state
    • 2 Unification of the Soviet republics
    • 3 Stalin’s rule
    • 4 The USSR and World War II
    • 5 Post-Stalin governments
    • 6 Gorbachev’s reforms and the dissolution of the USSR
  • 2 Geography
  • 3 Economy
  • 4 Demographics
  • 5Cultura
  • 6 Fountains


The Soviet Union was established in December 1922 as the Union of Soviet Republics of Russia (known as Bolshevik Russia), Ukraine , Byelorussia , and Transcaucasia governed, the first three, by Bolshevik parties and the last by the Menshevik .

The Revolution and the founding of the Soviet state

First flag of the Soviet Union , it was created in 1923 and was in use until 1953

The Great October Revolution was one of the most important and transcendental events of the 20th century , it was a true revolution that shook the world, where the great leading role of Lenin and his Marxist conception that gave rise to the Bolshevik Party stood out .

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin

The popular uprising in Petrograd culminated in the overthrow of the imperial government in March 1917.

To ensure the rights of the working class, workers’ assemblies, known as Soviets , are born throughout the country. The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, lobbied for a socialist revolution both in these assemblies and in the streets, overthrowing the Provisional Government on November 7 , October 25 according to the Julian Calendar , 1917 and handing over power to the soviets of workers, soldiers and peasants.

Only after the long and bloody Russian Civil War of 1918-1921 , during which the first Soviet Constitution of 1918 was approved, did the new Soviet power take hold.

Unification of the Soviet republics

On December 29, 1922, a conference of plenipotentiary delegations from Russia, Transcaucasia, Ukraine and Byelorussia approved the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR and the Declaration on the Creation of the USSR, forming the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

These two documents were confirmed by the first Soviet Congress of the USSR and signed by the heads of the delegations Mikhail Kalinin , Mikha Tskhakaya , Mikhail Frunze and Grigory Petrovsky , and Aleksandr Chervyakov respectively on December 30, 1922. On February 1 , 1924 the USSR was recognized by the first world power of the time, the British Empire.

Stalin’s government

Iósif Stalin

Lenin’s untimely death in January 1924 triggered a bitter struggle for power. The main antagonists were Trotsky and Joseph Stalin ., then general secretary of the party, who proclaimed themselves legitimate heirs of Lenin. Thanks to the control over the party apparatus, Stalin managed to obtain the support of the majority of its members and thus consolidate his power. In November 1927, after an internal referendum, the party completely repudiated the political ideas of Trotsky, who was expelled from it and had to go into exile in Alma Atá (present-day Almaty, in Kazakhstan). Two years later, Trotsky was exiled from the USSR. There were rumors of a secret alliance between Trotsky and the German and Japanese governments offering them some Soviet territories to help him seize power in the rest of Russia. It is possible that it was the fascists who spread these rumors. [2] In 1940 he was assassinated in Mexico at the hands of a Soviet agent.

In 1929, Stalin was recognized as the top leader of the party and the state. From that moment on he began the series of purges that would characterize his years in office, and that first affected his former allies during the struggle with Trotsky. Those leaders, especially Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin and Alexei Ivanovich Rikov, were expelled from the highest party bodies.

In foreign policy, the Molotov-Ribentrop pact: On August 23, 1939 , the Soviet Union and Germany signed a non-aggression pact in Moscow , in which, in addition, in a secret additional protocol: that it be territorial and political reorganization of the areas belonging to the Polish state, the Soviet and German spheres of influence are limited approximately to the line of the Narev, Vistula and San rivers. [3] The NSDAPit was prepared to negotiate on western Ukraine with the Polish government but not with the Soviets. Western Ukraine lies entirely within the Soviet sphere of influence as defined by protocol. General Franz Halder wrote in his entries that the fascists discussed the formation of an independent state in western Ukraine. The Soviets would anticipate a negotiated settlement that would leave a remnant Polish state between Germany and the Soviet border. Most of western Poland would have continued as part of reduced Poland. [4]

“I think that the imperialist plans to launch Hitler against the USSR would never have justified Hitler’s pact with Stalin, it was very hard. The communist parties, which were characterized by discipline, were all forced to defend the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and bleed out politically”.

Fidel Castro

The USSR and World War II

Once the Second World War began , however, and considering Hitler that the fall of England was imminent, he ordered an attack on the Soviet Union, making the pact a dead letter. On December 18, 1940 , the German command decided that the invasion of the USSR ( Operation Barbarossa ) would take place in April 1941 , but it could only be completed on June 22.of that year, when the attack on Soviet territory began with more than 3,000,000 German soldiers. The invasion took Stalin completely by surprise despite the fact that he had sufficient information through various sources of his own intelligence (such as Soviet agent Richard Sorge) that it was imminent. From the beginning of the invasion, the war was known by the Soviet people as the Great Patriotic War or the Great Patriotic War .

Initially the German forces advanced rapidly across the western plains of the USSR, inflicting immense casualties in manpower and material on the Red Army . However, the Soviet resistance made the attempts to take Leningrad and Moscow fail, the latter in November-December 1941. The non-occupied part of the country was transformed into a zone of continuous production to ensure resistance and victory, while in the areas occupied by the Nazis burned the guerrilla resistance.

The Red Army halted the Nazi offensive at the Battle of Stalingrad , from late 1942 to early

Red Army parade after the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany .

of 1943 , to later permanently damage him in the Battle of Kursk , being the major decisive point, and advanced through Eastern and Central Europe to Berlin until the capture of Berlin and the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945. [5]

Subsequently, the USSR was instrumental in the defeat of militaristic Japan and the liberation of North China and the Korean peninsula. Although torn apart by the war, the USSR emerged from the conflict as a recognized superpower and enormous prestige, having been the country that endured the attack of 80% of the German forces and their allies, suffering more than 27 million casualties, among civilians and military.

During the immediate postwar period, the Soviet Union first rebuilt and then expanded its economy. The Soviet Union helped rebuild post-war Eastern European countries , founded the Warsaw Pact in 1955 , later the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, helped nascent People’s China economically and saw its influence grow elsewhere of the world. Meanwhile, Cold War imperialist politics turned the Soviet Union’s wartime allies, the United Kingdom and the United States, into enemies.

Post-Stalin governments

Nikita Jruschov

Joseph Stalin died on March 5 , 1953 . After his death, his successor, Nikita Khrushchev , presented to the plenary session of the XX Communist Party congress in 1956 , a report with the political errors and crimes committed by Stalin, lamenting his cult of personality and initiating a de-Stalinization campaign.

The Soviet Union unleashed enormous scientific and technological potential, launching the first artificial satellite Sputnik 1 , the first living being to travel in space is Laika, and later, the first human being in Earth orbit, Yuri Gagarin .

Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly into space aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963 , and Alexei Leonov became the first person to walk in space on March 18 , 1965 . Khrushchev retired in 1964 . The enormous effort made to achieve nuclear parity with the United States contributed to bleeding the Soviet economy and, together with other mistakes, caused industry and agriculture to stagnate.

After Khrushchev, another period of rule by the Committee or collective leadership followed which lasted until Leonid Brezhnev established himself in the early 1970s as the pre-eminent figure in Soviet political life.

In the field of sports it became the first world power, the Soviet Union organized the 1980 Olympic Games , based in Moscow . There was a boycott of the event by the United States : within the framework of the Cold War and in protest against the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan , the Americans decided not to attend the Olympic Games, while trying to persuade their allies to they didn’t attend either. In total, 65 countries abstained from participating, mainly due to US pressure.

Gorbachev’s reforms and the dissolution of the USSR

Gorbachev together with Reagan signing the INF Treaty, in Washington DC , in 1987 .

After the death of Leonid Brezhnev and after the quick succession of Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko , Mikhail Gorbachev was appointed leader of the USSR. Gorbachev began to apply significant changes in the economy, Perestroika and Glasnost politics, unleashing opportunistic forces that with the encouragement of the West worked to disintegrate the USSR and the return of its members -especially Russia- to capitalism. The distance of the Communist Party and its leadership from the workers favored this process.

The movement that definitively brought down the USSR came from Russia, the nation that had built the tsarist empire, ancestor of the Soviet state. In May 1990 Boris Yeltsin , who had been expelled from the CPSU in 1987 , was elected Speaker of the Russian Parliament. From that position of power, Yeltsin promoted measures that precipitated the end of the Soviet Union.

Powerless and abandoned by almost everyone, Gorbachev resigned as President of the USSR on December 25 , 1991 . The Soviet red flag was lowered in the Moscow Kremlin , the Russian flag replaced it.

Russia took over from the USSR on the international scene: the embassies, the permanent seat on the Security Council, and control of Soviet nuclear weapons. The end of the Cold War was announced, but the United States took the opportunity to impose its hegemony in a unipolar world.


The Soviet Union occupied the eastern portion of the European continent and the northern portion of the Asian continent. Most of the country was north of 50° north latitude and covered a total area of ​​approximately 22,402,200 square kilometres. Due to the large size of the state, the climate varied greatly, from subtropical and continental to subarctic and polar. 11% of the land was arable, 16% was grassland and pasture, 41% forest, and 32% was declared “other” (including tundra).

The Soviet Union measured some 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) from Kaliningrad , in the west, to Ratmanova Island (Diomede Islands ), in the Bering Strait , roughly the equivalent of the distance from Edinburgh , Scotland , east of Nome , Alaska. From the tip of the Taimir Peninsula in the Arctic Ocean to the Central Asian town of Kushka near the Afghan border is nearly 5,000 kilometers of terrain, much of it rugged and inhospitable. The full width of the continental United States would lie between the extreme northern and southern borders of the Soviet Union.


Before its dissolution, the Soviet Union was the second most powerful economy in the world, after the United States. [6] The government established its economic priorities by the command economy, a system under which administrative decisions, rather than the market, determine resource allocation and prices.

After the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, the country grew from a largely underdeveloped peasant society with minimal industry to become the second largest industrial power in the world. According to Soviet statistics, the country’s industrial production in the world grew from 5.5% to 20% between 1913 and 1980 .

The Bolsheviks initiated a collectivization program for Soviet agriculture to increase food production. Agronomist Pavel Pantelimonovich Luk’ianenko bred a crop called Bezostaia-1 , a product resistant to many seasonal and diseased conditions. It was planted in large areas: at least 13 million hectares by the 1960s and 18 million by 1972. [7] By 1976 the average caloric intake of the population was 3,330 . [8] The AIC claimed in 1983 that the Soviets consumed an amount of food identical to that of the Americans, although the Soviet diet was perhaps more nutritious. He put the caloric intake at 3,280 daily. [9]


The Soviet Union was one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, with more than 150 distinct ethnicities within its borders. The total population was estimated at 293 million in 1991, having been the third most populous country in the world after China and India for decades.

In the last years of the Soviet Union, the ethnic groups of the country were: Russians (50.78%), followed by Ukrainians (15.48%), Uzbeks (5.84%). Other ethnic groups include Armenians, Belarusians, Georgians, Germans, Ossetians, Romanians, Moldovans, Tajiks, Greeks, Hungarians, Poles, Gypsies, Lithuanians, Bulgarians, Latvians, Turks, Tatars, Bashkirs, Chinese, Chuvashians, Jews, Kazakhs, Azerbaijanis, Caucasian peoples, Uralic peoples, Mongols, Tuvans, Semitic peoples, Yakuts, Ketos, Koreans, Cubans, only 1.6% of the population does not come from Russia. Mainly because of differences in birth rates among the Soviet nationalities, the proportion of the Russian population was steadily declining in the postwar period. [10]


Soviet culture went through several stages during the 70 years of its existence. During the first eleven years of the Revolution ( 1918-1929 ) , there was wide latitude and artists experimented with several different styles in an effort to find a distinctive Soviet art style. Lenin wanted art to be accessible to the Russian people.

The government encouraged a variety of trends. In art and literature, numerous schools, some traditional and others radically experimental, proliferated. The writers Maximo Gorky and Vladimir Mayakovsky were active during this period. The cinema received the support of the State; much of cinematographer Sergei Eisenstein ‘s best work dates from this period.

Later, during the Joseph Stalin era, Soviet culture was characterized by government support for socialist realism, with all other trends seriously repressed, with rare exceptions (for example the works of Mikhail Bulgakov ).

In the 1950s and 1960s further experimentation in art forms became permitted again. Many protagonists of the novels by the author Yuri Trifonov referred to problems of everyday life. The architecture focused above all on a functional design in contrast to the highly ornate style of the Stalin era.

The mayoral forums for public dispute, criticism and the formation of public opinion were the media, specialized newspapers and conferences. The media was the major forum for opposing views with Pravada and Izvestia ranging more freely as social critics than the weekly newspapers. The Soviet press abounded with public disputes on many subjects. Only the Communist Party as an institution, the existence of the militia, socialism as a system and communism, the idea of ​​unity between the Party and the people and the highest political directors as persons were prohibited subjects in the press. [eleven]


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