20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union (44 photos)

Translation from the foreign media: 20 years ago, December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as Soviet president, announcing its decay. The era of the communist empire, which lasted from 1922. The USSR was able to long economic stagnation, when Gorbachev came to power in 1985. To change everything, he spent several reforms, including perestroika and glasnost. Publicity given rise protests and many of the republic began to move towards independence, threatening the existence of the USSR. In August 1991, a group of leading representatives of the Communist Party, angry separatist movement, tried to hold a mutiny failed because of the civil conflict, but it is even more shattered the already unstable government. By December 1991, 16 Soviet republics declared their independence, and Gorbachev handed over power to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. So was the end of the Soviet Union. Collected here are photos of those troubled months 20 years ago.

1. A woman digging in a bag on a fallen hammer and sickle on the street in Moscow in 1991. December 25 will be 20 years since the Soviet collapse. (Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Getty Images)






2. Lithuanians with flags in the center of Vilnius, January 10, 1990 during a demonstration for independence. In early 1990, the candidates of "Sąjūdis" won the elections to the Supreme Soviet of Lithuania. March 11, 1990, the Supreme Council declared the restoration of Lithuanian independence. The Baltic republics were in the first row in the struggle for independence, and Lithuania became the first who declared independence. (Vitaly Armand / AFP / Getty Images)




3. Mikhail Gorbachev in a lively conversation with the residents of Vilnius, January 11, 1990. Gorbachev arrived in the Lithuanian capital, to encourage the local Communist Party to change the decision to secede from Moscow. (AP Photo / Victor Yurchenko)




4. The crowd blocks moving Soviet tanks on the road near Ganja in Soviet Azerbaijan January 22, 1990. The troops sent to quell the violence here, stumbled upon the armed resistance. (AP Photo)




5. People buy a cup in the center of Vilnius April 27, 1990. Despite the economic blockade of Lithuania by the Soviet Union in Vilnius stores were full of food and other goods. (AP Photo / Dusan Vranic)




6. Residents oppose Soviet troops cordon front of the headquarters of the local Communist Party in the Tajik capital Dushanbe on 15 February 1990. After the uprising, the Soviet authorities declared a state of emergency. (AP Photo / RIA Novosti)



7. Two Soviet paratrooper inspect weapons seized from local military organization in Kaunas, Lithuania, March 26, 1990. Gorbachev ordered all Lithuanians to surrender their weapons. (AP Photo / Vadimir Vyatkin / Novisti)



8. Police hinders mothers who have lost their loved ones in the war, on the Red Square in Moscow on December 24, 1990. A group of 200 Soviet parents who have lost sons in ethnic violence and accidents in the army, held a protest at the Kremlin. In 1990, died 6000 Soviet troops. (AP Photo / Martin Cleaver)



9. Around 100,000 protesters are at the Kremlin in Moscow, January 20, 1991. Many called for the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev, protesting against the raids of the Soviet Army in the nationalist government of Lithuania. (Vitaly Armand / AFP / Getty Images)



10. Soldiers patrolled the empty Red Square March 27, 1991 after the overlap area on the eve of the demonstration for Yeltsin. (Alain-Pierre Hovasse)



11. Anti-Soviet political drawings and graffiti on a wall in Vilnius, January 17, 1991. Around the Lithuanian Parliament built a wall out of fear of possible raids by Soviet troops. Many Soviet Army deserters pinned their agenda on the poster Mikhail Gorbachev. (AP Photo / Liu Heung Shing)



12. Lithuanian demonstrator runs to the Soviet tank during the attack on the radio and television station in Vilnius, January 13, 1991. Soviet troops opened fire on unarmed citizens in Vilnius, killing 13 people, and another 100 were injured. (Stringer / AFP / Getty Images)



13. Armed Lithuanian volunteer awake while his friend is sleeping in Vilnius, January 23, 1991. Hundreds of armed men led the guard in the fortified Lithuanian parliament until Mikhail Gorbachev tried to prevent further violence in other republics. (AP Photo / Liu Heung Shing)



14. The funeral of 10 people killed 13 in Vilnius, January 16, 1991. These people were killed when Soviet troops stormed the television center of Lithuania. They came to say goodbye hundreds of thousands of people. (AP Photo)



15. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators on Manezh Square in Moscow March 10, 1991 require the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev and his cabinet. It was the largest anti-government demonstration in 73 years since the Communists came to power. (AP Photo / Dominique Mollard)



16. A few weeks before the coup, Mikhail Gorbachev is surrounded by his so-called friends, who will soon hold the August putsch against him. Vice President Gennady Yanayev (second from right) was the most prominent leader of the coup. In this photo, they lit a fire in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall in May 1991. (Alain-Pierre Hovasse)



17. Soviet tanks at the Spassky Gate, the entrance to the Kremlin after the putsch August 19, 1991. Tanks drove through Moscow to the White House, where Boris Yeltsin gathered supporters to end the coup. (Dima Tanin / AFP / Getty Images)



18. The leaders of the August coup: (left) miistr Interior Boris Pugo, Vice President Gennady Yanayev and First Vice President of the Defense Council Oleg Baklanov. These people were members of the so-called "emergency committee", which topped the coup against Mikhail Gorbachev. In this photo, they are at a press conference August 19, 1991 in Moscow. (Vitaly Armand / AFP / Getty Images)



19. The crowd gathered around the armored car, trying to block his move to Red Square August 19, 1991. Military vehicles appeared on the streets of the capital after the announcement that Gorbachev was replaced by Gennady Yanayev. (AP Photo / Boris Yurchenko)



20. Supporters of Yeltsin rolling barrels to barricade near the federal building in Moscow on August 19, 1991. (Anatoly Sapronyenkov / AFP / Getty Images)



21. President Boris Yeltsin (left), an armored personnel carrier during an attempted coup. Yeltsin urged the crowd for a general strike. (Diane-Lu Hovasse / AFP / Getty Images)



22. Video Mikhail Gorbachev, in which he says that the coup was unconstitutional and that it's all good. (NBC TV / AFP / Getty Images)



23. A demonstrator is fighting with the soldier on the tank 19 August 1991. On the same day, thousands of people in Moscow, Leningrad and other cities have responded to the call of Boris Yeltsin to erect barricades against the troops. (Dima Tanin / AFP / Getty Images)



24. Boris Yeltsin raises his fist to his supporters in Moscow on 19 August 1991, urging them to strike. (Dima Tanin / AFP / Getty Images)



25. More than 50 000 people have ignored the state of emergency, and gathered outside the parliament building in support of Yeltsin's August 20, 1991. (Vitaly Armand / AFP / Getty Images)



26. A protester argues with a soldier in Moscow. (Andre Durand / AFP / Getty Images)



27. Residents PEF play the guitar and talking to the soldiers of the White House, August 20, 1991. (Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Getty Images)



28. People on the barricade in front of the White House on August 21 1991. (Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Getty Images)



29. A soldier waving a Russian flag on the tank, leaving Moscow, after a failed coup against Gorbachev August 21, 1991. Coup leaders fled the capital, and there were rumors that Gorbachev will be back soon. (Willy Slingerland / AFP / Getty Images)



30. Part of the crowd outside the parliament building in Moscow enjoys the failed putsch August 22, 1991. (AP Photo)



31. Feast after the failed coup. (Alain-Pierre Hovasse)



32. A crowd watches as a statue of the founder of the KGB knocked Dzerzhinsky in Moscow August 22, 1991. (Anatoly Sapronenkov / AFP / Getty Images)



33. Gorbachev released from house arrest in August 1991. (Alain-Pierre Hovasse)



34. People at the funeral of the victims of the coup in front of the White House August 24, 1991. (Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Getty Images)



35. The group of supporters of Yeltsin examines one of the barricades in Moscow August 25, 1991. (Alain-Pierre Hovasse / AFP / Getty Images)



36. A resident of Baku rips ax image of Lenin September 21, 1991. Azerbaijan was declared the Soviet Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic in 1920. The country voted for independence in 1991. (Anatoly Sapronenkov / AFP / Getty Images)



37. A member of the KGB sends weapons Lithuanians in Vilnius. August 31, 1991. (Stephan Bentura / AFP / Getty Images)

38. Rock fans at a concert in Moscow on September 28, 1991. Half a million people came to the airport to the concert, where he appeared «AC / DC», «Pantera» and «Metallica». It was a kind gift of the Russian youth in gratitude for the opposition in the putsch. (AP Photo / Massimo Alabresi)



39. Lithuanian girl sitting on the overturned statue of Vladimir Lenin in Vilnius after the monument was removed from the center of the September 1, 1991. (Gerard Fouet / AFP / Getty Images)



40. Chechen separatists at a rally in Grozny 14 November 1991 enjoyed the Soviet withdrawal. (AP Photo)



41. Residents of Ukraine voted in a referendum for independence from the Soviet Union in the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow December 1, 1991. (AP Photo / Boris Yurchenko)



42. Family Musichik looks like Mikhail Gorbachev announces his resignation in Moscow December 25, 1991. Gorbachev, whose reforms gave Soviet citizens freedom, but eventually led to the destruction of the nation, has resigned as president of the communist empire that no longer exists. (AP Photo / Sergei Kharpukhin)



43. Immediately after the resignation of Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, was instructed by the Russian military nuclear experts to work with the diplomat with access to the nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union. (Alain-Pierre Hovasse)



44. Last time the Soviet flag rises over the Kremlin in Moscow on December 21, 1991. New Year's flag was replaced with the Russian. (AP Photo / Gene Berman)



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