After continuous economic reforms under the more liberal administration of Kosygin the Eastern Bloc became more open to democratic ideals which were seeded during the revolutions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia two decades earlier and now had grown mature.

In spite of the economic reforms, the Soviet Union was faced with increasing demands of greater political reforms and freedom of expression.

To improve economical performance the government had to decentralize decision power and expand commercial relationships with the rest of the world, the peoples of the USSR and Eastern Europe became more compelled to challenge the government's position whenever the pace of the reforms felt short of their widening expectations.

On the other hand, hardliners were increasingly dissatisfied with the perceived radical policies of Kosygin and the dwindling influence of the CPSU. They wanted to curb the raising levels of dissidence and considered the shift towards private enterprise as a betrayal of socialism.

When Kosygin died in 1980 he was succeeded by hard-line oriented Yuri Andropov whose administration would shift focus from economical reforms and improving East-West relations to military expansion and confrontation with the West.

This would pave way for the Invasion of Afghanistan in 1981 to aid the fledgling Communist government to retain power and recover instability in neighboring Soviet ally.

Such a war would drain down Soviet public opinion and dissatisfaction with would be unfinished economical and political reforms drove the citizens farther away from the government.

As the war dragged on and economical problems led to political instability in the Eastern Bloc, elements of the Soviet military began to consider the CPSU as hampering the progress of the country's development.

Yuri Andropov passed away on 9 February 1984 after nearly a year hospitalized because total renal failure, he was succeeded by Mikhail Gorbachev who reinstated the USSR in the path of economical and political reforms.

Gorbachev's attempts at reforms tried to rekindle and expand those initiated under Kosygin through Perestroika and Glasnost, however, his disengagement from military intervention in Warsaw Pact countries coupled with shifting distribution of wealth resulted in further weakening of the CPSU's hold on power while driving hardliners and the military leadership farther into paranoia that their country was breaking apart.

It all culminated in the Revolutions of 1989 as uprisings swept through Warsaw Pact countries relinquishing single party Communist governments. As the Baltic republics expressed their desire to break away from the Soviet Union this served to confirm the fears from hardliners who decided the time had came to put forward a counter revolution.

From since the beginning of economical and social unrest after the invasion of Afghanistan, military personnel dissatisfied with the rule of the CPSU began to organize a future coup to remove the party from power and state a military junta compromised with the stability and prosperity of the USSR.

As the Soviet Army lost influence under Gorbachev, more and more high ranking officers, rather than supporting civilian democracy, began to rally behind Soviet commander in Afghanistan Colonel General Sergei Vasiliev in the view that the losing tide of the war and the deteriorating conditions of the USSR came from the inept Communist party that unleashed reforms it couldn't implement much less control.

January Revolution


Soviet 40th army defects to the Red Officers Movement

On 21 January 1991 the Soviet 40th Army in Afghanistan declared itself rogue from Moscow's authority followed by division in Moscow, Central Asia, the Far East and former occupation forces in Eastern Europe.

Occupied with the popular unrest and misinformed of the movements true extension and its leadership by the KGB; which had been switching sides since Polish government failure to follow with their recommendations to prevent the rise of Solidarity, the government of the USSR and the people were caught by surprise as the ROM mobilized more than 300,000 personnel against the government and dissident forces across the country.

Gorbachev was ousted and martial law was declared. Large scale confrontations erupted between pro government protesters and ROM forces in a series violent clashes that left several thousand dead.

Consolidation of power

Russian Protests

Civilian protests against the coup continuously turned violent.

By February 4th, after two weeks of bloody battles between protesters and ROM forces the country faced an imminent threat of civil war. With many separatist movements launching armed uprisings against both the Soviet government and other break away republics the rest of the Soviet military USSR inclined towards the ROM view that democratization and independence would only serve to further destabilization and increased conflict.

Disillusioned with the sectarian chaos brought by the failed political opening and unwilling to fight a civil war that would destroy the country, eventually most Soviet commanders joined ROM against the civilian opposition.


Military and secret police worked closely to suppress the protests.

With 97% of the Soviet military under his command, Sergei Vasiliev was promoted to Supreme Commander of the reformed Red Army and became President of the Supreme Military Council of the United Sovereign Soviet Republics (SMCUSSR).

Beginning of the Purge

After consolidating power among the military, including control over the Soviet nuclear arsenal, the SMCUSSR promulgated a new constitution defining the USSR as an indivisible entity and launched a brutal nationwide crackdown against dissent.

Declaring all independence movements as enemies of the state, the new government launched a massive military offensive against break away regions and forced the deportation of dissident groups to Siberian prisons.

By October 3rd, after seven months of bloody crackdown, all opposition to the new government was completely crushed and dissidents were forced into the shadows.

The Russian phase of the purge was complete but the states of Eastern Europe which had just attained their freedom were considered illegal by the new USSR government. Anxiety had been mounting up on the hearts of Polish, Czech, Slovaks, Hungarians, Romanian and German citizens as the disastrous events in the USSR unfolded; their worst fears had been confirmed, all they fought to attain would be faced with the cruel might of the new Red Army.

See Also

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.